December 12, 2006

Skin Deep

Today I learned a lesson in why racism is such an issue in Australia. If you're white then you have no place judging people by their colour. If you're a recent migrant however, the rules are a little different.

I was appauled to see two dark African men get involved in an incident in Footscray today. A white pedestrian was hit by a parking car, but the outrage of the victim was greeted with violence from the dark skinned by-standers who had nothing better to do.

Had the pedestrian been a fellow immigrant then the attitude of the idle onlookers may have been different. The key to the racial nature of the African men was their repeated use of race in their abusive language.

When the victim started taking photos of the scene, in case required for a legal defense, the forementioned by-standers got violent. When police finally arrived they didnt act to determine the culpability of the attackers, they instead interogated the pedestrian for inciting trouble.

White police officers have been well trained to avoid stereo-typing the public, so they intentionally ignored the full scope of facts. Despite pleas to verify the events with a credible witness, the account of the dark skinned attackers was the only corroboration headed by police.

The police had to overlook a fair weight of obvious fact to come to the wrong conclusion, and between them they seemed more concerned to avoid filling out paperwork than arresting two thugs who beat a defenceless man. Dishonesty and violence is part of every community, but we expect better from our police.

I had seen this pattern once before, while eating a kebab in Carlton. I witnessed a car run a red-light and nearly kill two of the occupants in another vehicle in the impact. The owner of the kebab shop came out after he heard the noise. He hadnt seen the incident but quickly took sides for the fellow middle-eastern man, and even tried to influence my opinion on what happened.

So it seems that racial factors can be subtle in general, but profound in application. Why would a kebab man defend a drunken-driver? Had a police-man asked me that question I would not have an answer, I just know that he did. And so it was today that the police wanted to know *why* two dark skinned by-standers would attack a white-man for "no reason". Once again, I just know they did.

Alas that was not good enough for the police today, they got the wrong end of the stick and failed to protect a man who had been beaten and attacked.

Ignorance takes many forms, and so does racism. Neither are the privilege of the white.

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