Racism Is Still A Thing
Welcome to my Ted Talk.
It’s about racists.
Now, being white, male, heterosexual, not poor and privileged in general.
Racism isn’t something I’ve had to personally suffer.
Which, I think is rather entertaining, given that I believe racism is heinous. However, that doesn’t seem to stop people — mostly white deeply-religious people — from claiming that racism isn’t a relevant issue in todays society.
So, before I make a whole bunch of statements about colonialism being disastrous and how the only way to progress in society is to eat the rich. I’m going to go back in time. It’ll be a magical time.
The time of the Roman Empire, let’s pick, oh, 63A.D.
Now, this was before they enacted a whole bunch of laws that gave out citizenship for all. Just want you to keep that in mind.
For a little backstory, the Roman Empire dominated central Europe — minus Germany and Scandinavia. At their peak they stretched across the Mediterranean and into Persia.
If you were a Roman Citizen, you could walk the roads of the Known World; assured that you were safe. Not because bad people didn’t exist, not because you couldn’t be murdered or assaulted or robbed.
But because it was a known-fact that if you attacked a Roman Citizen, the Roman Empire would answer with Legions. And your village would be burned, or enslaved. Or both.
Now, being a Roman Citizen was important.
But do you know what wasn’t important?
The colour of your goddamn skin.
We in the West like to think of ourselves as civilised. But, it amuses me to no end that we are plagued by issues that we consider ourselves above. Racism? a problem for those too ignorant and incompetent to be us.
Except it is us. Racism is still an issue in our societies today. And whilst it is most prevalent in the United States of America, it can be seen even here in New Zealand.
My idyllic home-country, plagued by racists.
The Treaty of Waitangi is still in dispute. We still argue over what land should be protected, what land can be used for industry or housing or any number of a-thousand-different things. We still have people that claim Maori don’t deserve the rights they have — because they consider it *special treatment*.
People like that piss me the fuck off.
Yes, because they’re racist. But also, because they are ignorant. They do not seem to be able to connect the dots. The colonisers came to New Zealand. Shot a lot of people. Enforced their own laws, religious beliefs and culture on the indigenous Maori peoples. We, and yes it is we because I am a descendant of those very colonisers, we took their land and their culture. We stripped them of their rights.
In 1962 the Maori Welfare Act was put into law. It’s a bullshit name all things considered, it had nothing to do with welfare and everything to do with giving some semblance of equal rights and standing within government to Iwi.
You know, that thing that the Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to do?
Today it’s prevalent because the loud and obnoxious conservatives of New Zealand believe that the Maori of today receive special treatment. There are scholarships for Maori and…
And that’s about it. The Right like to screech about special treatment and inequality that doesn’t exist. That positive-discrimination is still discrimination. And bad.
I’m going to say this once, plainly for all to understand.
We robbed a people of their culture, their traditions, their laws, their beliefs, and enforced our own. We stripped them of their rights and tricked, bribed and threatened our way into a position of authority and superiority.
And then, then, we looked down on them. We were happy to draft Maori men during World War I and World War II. And yet the Maori Council was not set up until 1962, seventeen years after World War II was ended. In 1960 we still decided to exclude Maori players from the All Blacks rugby tour of South Africa.
This is a people we kicked and beat, where people that looked like me actively worked to suppress Maori advancement and education.
So, if you think that scholarships for Maori is too much. Then I want you pick up a damn history book and learn. Because it isn’t nearly enough to fix the shit we broke in the first place. And it isn’t enough to repair the damage that we caused.
We need to take responsibility.
And we need to be better.