Sunday, August 9, 2015

If black lives really matter in Australia, it's time we owned up to our history

Jeff Sparrow The Guardian August 7, 2015
Australia’s frontier had cruelty to rival the US south.
‘White Australians might think nothing of being called an ‘ape’. But Goodes’ response to the taunt arises from a history that shares far more with the US south than we’d like to think.’
In the US, the Black Lives Matter campaign is forcing a long-overdue reckoning with that country’s history, with (in the wake of the Charleston massacre, in particular), activists launching a new conversation about the Civil War iconography that litters much of the South……….
…….in his new book Australian Confederates, journalist Terry Smyth draws out some fascinating connections between Australia and the American South.
Smyth focuses, in particular, on the 42 Australians who, in 1865, secretly enlisted to fight for the slave-owning states when the Confederate ship Shenandoah docked in Port Phillip Bay. In passing, however, he acknowledges the broader significance of the Civil War, which opened sudden opportunities for another nations to export agricultural crops.
As historian Kay Saunders has said, the Northern blockade of Confederate cotton and sugar meant that ‘Queensland was regarded potentially as a second Louisiana’.
Aspiring local planters tried to seize the moment, inducing British mill workers to immigrate and establish a local cotton industry. But they quickly discovered that men from England’s industrial towns would not accept the conditions prevailing on plantations in the Australian rural north………
But a grassroots campaign to identify and commemorate particular histories would take on a different dynamic. It would necessitate an engagement with the community, for a start: a serious public debate about historical injustice. It would also link the past with the present, inevitably posing questions that go beyond the treatment of Adam Goodes into the shocking statistics about, for instance, indigenous unemployment and incarceration.
Australian history and American history are not the same. But it’s very hard to read, say, Amy McQuire’s account of the death last year of Julieka Dhu in police custody without asking the questions currently being posed in the US: do black lives matter or not?
Read more
In case you missed this very good article: I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it by Stan Grant

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