Karen Wyld: Put away your ball, this is not a game

In BlogX, Race & Racism by IndigenousX

Author: Karen Wyld

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KAREN WYLD IS AN MARTU WANTI WOMAN, AUTHOR AND FREELANCE WRITER LIVING IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. 

In response to the backlash of Fraser Anning’s bigoted first speech in parliament on 14 August 2018, he quickly released a statement accusing Australians of playing the man and not the ball. Put your ball away, because we are not playing. It’s not a game.

I’m not playing with white supremacists, with racists or other bigots. This is not a game.

And because I am not even entertaining the thought of playing either the man or his ball, I am not providing a link to his speech. I’m not even going to quote him.

I will give nothing to racism, but I will stand up against racists.

Around the globe, millions of people are doing the best they can to survive genocide, war, famine, natural disasters, and the growing impact of climate change.

People are on the move. For survival. For a chance of a future for their children. Together, we must come up with solutions to help more people find a safe, welcoming place to call home. Not build walls, turn back boats, incarcerate or torture those that seek help.

Callous settler-colonials, like Anning, dictating who can and cannot live on stolen land should not be followed, let alone listened to.

A closed mind cannot fathom a collective future worth striving for.

First Peoples have been living on this continent now called Australia for well over 64,000 years. Way before the first white person was even born, First Peoples have been thriving in harsh terrains and climates.

And there is a something special that allowed us to survive. Our ancestors shared this secret with the English invaders and settlers, so they too survived.

It’s because the foundation of First Peoples’ societies are the values of humanity:

Willingness to be part of a collective

Benevolence towards others

Sharing skills that sustain life

Generosity and reciprocation

Building on the strength and wisdom of ancestors

Providing for the future by mentoring younger generations

Some people might suggest that we show pity to people such as Anning, who have no sense of humanity. But pity is not the answer. Nor is showing them tolerance. I will not be tolerant towards the intolerant.

Because I’m not going to play with white supremacist, racists and other bigots. This is not a game.

Image by Neal Jennings

In Australia, we have unlimited access to information and tools to not only understand the impact of racism and bigotry, but to learn how to combat these forms of hate. From racist comments to discrimination – all forms of racism are harmful. In this era of information and connectiveness, there is absolutely no excuse for racism.

People who engage in racist behaviour or hate speech make the choice to keep racism alive. Sometimes it is because they focus on the power they might lose, rather than consider what rights others will gain. The tired argument over 18C and ‘freedom of speech’is one example of those with privilege wanting to maintain the status quo, even if it is unjust.

Taika Waititi, Māori director, screenwriter and comedian, suggests in this tongue-in-cheek video that we should Give nothing to racism. He says “…the only thing that keeps racism alive and helps it grow is feeding it. Nurturing it.”

Decades ago, Toni Morrison, acclaimed African American novelist, activist and Nobel Prize recipient, also suggested that we stop giving our time to racism. 

“It’s important, therefore, to know who the real enemy is, and to know the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction.

It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is.

Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up.

None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.

And since not history, not anthropology, not social sciences seem capable in a strong and consistent way to grapple with that problem, it may very well be left to the artists to do it.”
Toni Morrison. Humanist View as part of Black Studies Center public dialogue. Pt. 2 (30 May 1975) Abridged transcript extract.

As an artist (weaver and writer), I am also suggesting we stop giving our precious time to people who choose to engage in racism.

Take away their megaphone. Never give them a platform. Around the family table, tell them their views are not acceptable. And firmly say: ‘no, I will not debate you.’

If they are advocating to deprive others of respect and human rights, then they need to be ostracised until they choose to let go of that hate.

You owe nothing to white supremacist, racists, and other bigots. Hate is not a game.

In the aftermath of Anning’s speech, people are naming & shaming his peers that shook his hand and congratulated him. How many people with similar views to Anning have you shook hands with today? How many have you hugged good-bye…..sat next to on the bus in to work…..put their dinner on the table?

People are also discussing politicians’ speeches condemning Anning’s views. These peers will be working with him to determine our futures. Just as they have determined others’ past and present. Did these politicians also condemn offshore detention for people that sought our help? Did Anning’s peers speak up against the paternalism and racism embedded within NT Intervention/Stronger Futures? Did they condemn Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians, or did they instead approve more trade deals?

Despite their words of objection, distancing themselves from Anning’s speech, they are all complicit.

Racism, bigotry and inhumanity does not exist in a vacuum. After their words are forgotten on the wind, they will still be making decisions and policies that allow race-based injustices to flourish.

Anning might be the latest racist to be given a platform, but we all know there’s another incident on the horizon. Another person itching to unleash their chosen flavour of hate-speech.

Never allow white supremacist, racists and other bigots to play you, because this is not a game.

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