Day 155: An open letter to Australia’s next Race Discrimination Commissioner

Day 155: An open letter to Australia’s next Race Discrimination Commissioner

Monday, June 4, 2018

In a few short months, Australia will have a new Race Discrimination Commissioner, a role that many have and will vocally argue serves no meaningful function. Such people believe the role is redundant because we live in a post-racial society, and further that such a role only serves to promote division.

I imagine these are people who make a conscious effort to be inclusive while out in public, or otherwise suppress the racist elements of their upbringing. I imagine these same people aren’t comfortable when people like the Race Discrimination Commissioner confronts them with the possibility that racism happens anyway; and I can understand they feel as though they are all being judged for the actions of a guilty few.

As far as I can tell, we don’t need a Race Discrimination Commissioner who is going to beat such people over head with chapter and verse of what is acceptable and what is not. All that would accomplish is entrench their sense of denial even further. Yes, they are in denial – it’s pretty obvious considering they get triggered by the merest suggestion that someone comes from a different culture.

What we need is a Race Discrimination Commissioner who will give these people the tools and the language to take appropriate ownership of of their past misdeeds, or at least separate themselves from the misdeeds of others without denying their very existence.

Why ‘language’? Because these people, who by all accounts are trying to do the right thing, only seem to know one response that follows this theme: “I’m not racist, therefore there is no racism here.”

It would be nice if we could all take ownership of our past misdeeds, and say words to the effect of “Yeah, I used to crack offensive jokes when I was younger, but I was dumb and I know better now, but there are people out there who still haven’t figured it out yet”. Maybe then, we’ll be more accepting of possibilities that extend beyond our own personal experiences. Maybe then, we’ll make some progress.


About today’s photo: I used to be able to show up to a shoot with just a camera. Then it became two cameras. And multiple lenses. In bag. Now I’m trollying a mountain of stuff around with an assistant and following a filming schedule managed by several EAs. I guess the point is that a single person is only capable of so much. When problems get big enough, everyone needs to be allowed to pitch in, or else nothing gets done at all. 

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