A possie in Aussie

March 22, 2010

Are police racist? A Sudanese view

Filed under: race relations,racism — Nayano @ 7:26 am
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Just as we don’t see our own racism, we don’t see our own culture, and so we learn about these things if at all. (See South Australians know ‘they’ are racist: Racism Survey.)

I have been working with Sudanese for four years, and slowly slowly learn more.

In recent conversations with police and Sudanese new settlers in meetings together I have learnt:

In the Southern Sudanese traditional culture from which the people I know come (there is of course more than one cultural group in South Sudan) there are no institutions such as police and courts and prisons, and order depends on interpersonal respect.

Everyone in a group must show respect to the elder, and when given an order, carry it out. This extends down the hierarchy to individual families.  Respect is also vital between peers, and if someone disrespects another, they will be ostracised.

We protect our police and justice system from politics and to a varying extent from the media, and are expected to show respect to the police and judiciary by obeying their directions and symbolically through silence in court, and obeying the protocols. We do this because they are vital for us to be able to live together.

‘Respect’ has the same place in Sudanese society. So much so that one man told me that it is less offensive to physically attack someone than to verbally abuse them.

So, imagine that a car driven by a Sudanese young man is stopped by the police.

The police officer has been trained to be polite, but also to be on guard. Politeness will not be at the top of their agenda, and will disappear under even a small stress.

The cop expects respect because they are the police. The Sudanese man expects respect, because he has learnt from birth onwards that it is of the utmost importance between all people.

The cop may feel uneasy because this guy is an unknown quantity, and may have fallen for the media beatups that (wrongly) portray Sudanese as gang members.

Add to this mix that fact that the Sudanese accent is very difficult for a native-born Australian to understand.

The mix is explosive. The result confirms things the officer has heard about Sudanese youth. The Sudanese man loses respect for the police force.

Is this racism?


December 18, 2009

Sudanese AFL rookie becomes a Kangaroo

Filed under: African,refugee — Nayano @ 9:31 am
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Majak Daw, who came to Australia from a refugee background, is the first player of Sudanese origin to be recruited in the AFL rookie draft.

He was recruited by North Melbourne with its first-round pick (which seems to mean he is very good – I think?).

The North Melbourne Football Club has also recently opened  a Learning and Life Centre on their grounds.

The Centre for Multicultural Youth was involved in planning the centre.

The aims of the Centre are to “provide positive educational, multicultural and healthy living programs involving teachers and NMFC players”. These include curriculum-based school topics for visiting students, after-hours ‘homework classes’ for local youth, community organisations such as Melbourne Aboriginal Youth, Sport and Recreation, Victoria Police and the Heart Foundation to run programs in the Centre, and community groups are able to book parts of the facility for functions. NMFC  Learning and Life Centre

December 14, 2009

Opposition OUTRAGED by heat

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,detention — Nayano @ 7:17 am
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The latest news from Christmas Island:

Christmas Island’s detention facilities reached their capacity of 1,400 regular beds last Thursday, and now about 60 asylum seekers are now being housed in tents..

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison is outraged.

“I think it’s outrageous that we’re in a situation now that we’ve had so many boat arrivals that these people will have to spend these hot summer months under tents” he said. Anger as asylum seekers housed in tents

Firstly, I reckon that someone who has escaped the Taliban, fled using dodgy people smugglers, and sailed to Australia on a ramshackle fishing boat skippered by people who have never sailed that far before is not going to worry too much about being HOT!

Secondly, if Mr Morrison is concerned that the asylum seekers might suffer because they have to sleep in tents, how can he support the return of the Temporary Protection Visa that drove people mad and drove them to suicide with its inhumane conditions? TPV agonyScott Morrison is

December 11, 2009

Lebanese, Vietnamese or Sudanese? We don’t want your business.

Filed under: African,race relations,racism — Nayano @ 7:56 am
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Notes from the pointy end of settlement:

Speaking with an insurance salesman yesterday who is interested in selling to new settlers:

‘We are also obliged to manage our risk. That means evaluating clients as well as property.

For example, head office has told me not to sell to Lebanese, Vietnamese or Sudanese.’

November 17, 2009

Need high tech assistance? Try a refugee camp!

Filed under: African,refugee — Nayano @ 4:56 pm
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Refugees in Dadaab’s camps are crammed in to spaces meant for only one third of the actual population, most don’t have jobs – they can’t get work permits under Kenyan law- and boys are often recruited to become pirates and child soldiers.

And now some of them are earning money with internet-based jobs such as searches, transcription, virtual assistance and app testing, on computers rigged to withstand the heat and dust that permeate the refugee camps. Simple idea – great potential.

Samasource is a non-profit organization that outsources web-based jobs to women, youth, and refugees living in poverty. 520 workers in six third world countries are now working with Samasource.

You can hire a worker or donate to Samasource on their web site, or download the Give Work iPhone app to play a fun solitaire-meets-trivia type of game that helps Samasource-affiliated workers make a few bucks.

November 15, 2009

Australia’s only Sudanese Stand-up Comedian

Filed under: African,humor,humour,refugee — Nayano @ 7:18 am
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This is the second time Sunday Funday has featured Australia’s only Sudanese Stand-up Comedian, Mujahid Ahmed, who lives in my home town and works for the agency I work for (lucky us!).

Enjoy. I particularly liked the very last line!

November 2, 2009

Watch this, and be afraid of where the asylum seeker debate could take us

In the United States the immigration bête noire is illegal immigrants (read ‘Mexicans’), while in Australia ours is boatpeople.

9500 Liberty is a new documentary, based on the groundbreaking YouTube channel, 9500liberty, just released in the US. I hope it will make it to Australia. Here’s the synopsis:

“Prince William County, Virginia became ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopted a law requiring police officers to question anyone they have “probable cause” to suspect is an undocumented immigrant.

9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens.

“Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual townhalls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government.

“The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.

John Grisham says that “9500 Liberty makes it clear that when we, as a nation of immigrants debate the immigration issue, we are defining our very identity as Americans”.

For ‘immigration issue’ read ‘asylum seeker issue’, and for ‘Americans’ read ‘Australians’.


October 30, 2009

Racism is not inevitable: even public opinion on boatpeople is ‘soft’

Joseph Chamie, research director at the Center for Migration Studies and former director of the United Nations Population Division, in an article for Online Opinion, brings attention to broader migration issues than just numbers of asylum seekers.  Mind the gap: public and government views on migration diverge

Chamie argues that governments overlook  public opinion in favour of powerful interest groups, such as business communities, political elites, ethnic associations and labour-exporting nations, in forming immigration policies.

“The consequences of this neglect are likely to become even more serious over time, giving rise, among other things, to increased xenophobia, vigilantism, violence and political extremism as well as the strengthening of radical factions on both the left and right.

“Some of these troubling developments, e.g., rising xenophobia and the success of nationalist parties, have recently become markedly more visible in such countries as Italy, Greece and Switzerland”, Chamie says.

Ian McAllister, in Mary Crock’s book Protection or Punishment: The Detention of Asylum Seekers in Australia claims that Australian politicians have tried to control the ‘dark underbelly’ of Australian opinion by imposing fairly severe immigration provisions. But this ‘strictness’ has been confined to restricting refugees, especially under the Howard government, which substantially increased opportunities for study, work and business visas.

Chamie cites a global study of public attitudes that found that the majority of the people in 44 of the 47 countries surveyed agree with the statement: “We should restrict and control entry of people into our country more than we do now”

It is dangerous to draw conclusions from this, however, because whenever these questions are asked people in all nations indicated that they want less immigration than they presently have, including in nations where integration was proceeding smoothly.

And public opinion surveys are notoriously unreliable predictors of behaviour, especially in relation to migration. Public opinion of rates of migration is, as Goot says, “not only ‘soft’, it is created in the very attempt to measure it.”

Racism is easily aroused, however, but is just as easily ameliorated. People learn racist attitudes from their milieu and once the milieu changes, for example through new laws, people are shocked by behaviours that they themselves once exhibited, and not only repudiate them but also forget that they ever held them.

October 29, 2009

Sudanese stabbed and media skewered

Filed under: African,media,racism,refugee — Nayano @ 7:25 am
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A young Sudanese man was murdered in an Adelaide suburb a couple of days ago.

There’s a PhD waiting for someone in analysing the news reports.

First I heard of it was through ABC radio news:

“A group of Sudanese men were sitting on an oval on Eastern Parade at about 4:30pm when they were attacked by about half a dozen other young men armed with knives and baseball bats.” Fatal brawl treated as murder

I assumed that the ‘other young men’ were Sudanese too. (Me! I thought that I was too sensitive to racial reporting in the media to be sucked in!!)

The next reports were through the Adelaide Advertiser. The first report I read excluded all mention of race – perpetrator, victim or otherwise.

Later that day in the Advertiser the victim became ‘African’ and the attackers ‘white’.

The latest reports have the victims (now 2) as Sudanese, and the perpetrators stripped of any descriptors. Six people to face court over Ottoway killing of Akol Akok

I reckon that this is going to lodge in the public consciousness as ‘another’ Sudanese murder, like the killing of Daniel Awak. Never mind the hundreds of murders that have taken place in the meantime that have not involved Sudanese.

And I dread the slow news summer months, and return of the so-called ‘experts’ who try to make their names through misinformed and misleading comments about Sudanese youth. A stab in the dark

October 17, 2009

Funny racist commerical

Filed under: humor,humour,racism — Nayano @ 2:18 pm
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I really needed a laugh after this week of  hysteria about the ‘Invasion of the Boatpeople”.

This commercial did it for me – I hope it gives you a laugh too, for this Sunday Funday.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Funny racist commerical“, posted with vodpod
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