Racism has no place in Canberra | Canberra Times

commentary, editorial, racism, racism in canberra, canberra times editorial

No one with any intelligence or moral fiber is in favor of racism – and yet there is clearly a lot about it. Most people will be shaken by it, but the catalog of complaints from leaders of Canberra’s ethnic minority groups indicates that racial abuse is occurring. Some, even though they are very far from most, resort to a racial slander or worse. Racial insults are often fleeting, usually only heard by the target. But the impact on the victim can be devastating. It changes the way they think about the world around them. They remember. Where they thought they were welcome, they now feel unwelcome. Leaders spanning communities with backgrounds in China and East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa say the pandemic has increased the number of cases of abuse that people face. Police say they are pursuing complaints with energy. The difficulty is often that evidence that is substantial enough to convince a jury can be difficult to obtain. It’s easy to deny a racial quarrel at a bus stop later. The ACT’s Human Rights Commission also says it takes complaints very seriously and does its utmost to reach out to communities and act on their behalf. But communities do not feel that enough is being done. They feel that they are forgotten and that a problem they are facing is not being weighed enough. But the task is not just one for organizations like the police or the commission. It’s one for all of us. Racism only thrives when it is acceptable, so it is up to all of us to state that racism does not belong in Canberra. Or other places. Canberra likes to think of itself as a tolerant society without deep divisions – and it is. But small incidents do a lot of damage. When a person of Chinese or Indian or Somali heritage is yelled at, the damage to the victim continues long after the perpetrator has walked down the street. We do not want parts of our society to feel that they are second-class citizens. According to the 2016 census, 32 percent of the population of Canberra were born abroad, many of them in countries other than those in Europe. These are the people who are vulnerable to racism. It would be a tragedy if these groups came to feel that they were not wanted because others did not say so, for example when incidents occur. This is not a time for silence. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the local community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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