Discrimination Opinion

Harmony Day airbrushes Australia's racist ideologies

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The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is 21 March (Screenshot via YouTube)

Harmony Day continues to be a day of harm and tokenism, as Australia has successfully whitewashed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, writes Priyanka Bromhead.

*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses anti-Black police brutality and Black deaths in custody

AUSTRALIA HAS successfully whitewashed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

This "Whitewashing" has resulted in little reflection on the history of the day and how it was formed to remember how police in 1960-apartheid-era South Africa openly fired on and murdered peaceful demonstrators, lobbying against dehumanising “pass laws”.

Today, school assembly conversations are limited to harmony, orange ribbons and potluck staff lunches. Workplace events highlight the token nature of peoples’ shared understanding of ethnicity, race, culture and identity as human resource departments continue to perpetuate racist behaviours and ideologies.

The Department of Home Affairs’ Harmony Week website paints a picture of belonging and inclusion, which is ironic considering the harsh laws fixed on people seeking asylum – especially those who are melanated – and the massive gaps and disparities between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples as well as the ongoing attacks on critical race theory.

To demand unity, imply belonging and use Black and Brown bodies to cover up a history of aggression against First Nations people and migrants is a violent attempt to sweep “Australia’s” own apartheid era under the rug.

We must not forget that South Africa’s laws were inspired by the White Australia policy and, like Israel, South Africa and Eelam, Australia is complicit in both genocide and apartheid.

A brave Australia would talk about our own pass laws, restricting the movement of First Nations people. A brave Australia would own our history of stolen and enslaved peoples.

A brave Australia would own the murdering of Black folk by police.

A brave Australia would do justice and mercy by implementing policies that put into practice reparations, restitution and restoration of what rightfully belongs to Traditional Custodians.

Until then, Harmony Day continues to be a day of harm and tokenism.

If you are distressed by anything in this article, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Priyanka Bromhead is the founder of we are the mainstream, an organisation celebrating and advocating for First Nations, women and gender diverse people of colour. You can follow Priyanka on Twitter @WATheMainstream.

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Harmony Day airbrushes Australia's racist ideologies

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