Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Australia’s multicultural television network, SBS, is running its tentpole event ‘Face Up to Racism’, or #FU2RACISM in the web parlance, to reveal the “shocking” truths (as I’ve heard them described in some advertising) about racism in Australia.
But to whom will it be shocking?
The armchair social justice warriors who block their ears to any kind of dissent? The people in country towns who just don’t have much exposure to people from other cultures?
Certainly not people of colour. The verbal abuse and victimisation I saw in their advertising campaign was upsetting but, on reflection, pretty normal for a Wednesday afternoon when people get frustrated with the working week.
The thing about #FU2RACISM is that it isn’t aimed at people like me. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. I already live that life, so I don’t need to be told what I already know.
I know that as a media production, #FU2RACISM isn’t as interested in truth nor accuracy as it is in creating a narrative that toys with the audience’s expectations and emotions. That’s why they have Ray Martin fronting the campaign: sure, he’s a journalist with credibility, but he is also a savvy storyteller at heart.
I know that the media is more interested in fuelling a perpetual debate than fostering an environment in which actual progress can be made.
Why else do they keep trotting out Yassmin Abdel-Magied (who famously excoriated Senator Jacqui Lambie for being ignorant about ‘sharia’, but lacked the composure to explain it to her when the opportunity sat ripely in front of her) even though she is considered by many within the Muslim community to be a polarising figure who does not represent their interests?
It’s not like what they have to say is particularly rational either. Yesterday, I was drawn into a discussion about whether people’s romantic preferences are racist – an absurd notion that can only have been borne from seeing everything through the prism of race. As the saying goes: if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
One-upmanship, brinkmanship, score-keeping, needless outrage, shaming people, asking viewers to ostensibly pick sides…
These are not the qualities of what I consider to be an intelligent dialogue.
Truthfully, I’m not sure I’d even want my well-intentioned Caucasian friends to watch it.
It’s all just a bit embarrassing.