One of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences I’ve had in my life came watching an episode of John Safran vs God where the comedian organised for a group of Aborigines to knock on the door of a house, the front of which displayed a plaque reading, ‘We are proud to acknowledge the Wurundjeri People as the traditional owners of this land’.
Two young Whitefella women opened their front door to be met with a group of Blackfellas asking politely if they could move in. When one of the astonished women asked what made them think they could demand that, the Blackfellas pointed to the sign.
It was a brilliant skewering of the Left, a devastating reveal of the limitations of symbol. Watching the sketch was mortifying because I recognised myself in the young women’s embarrassed and confused reactions. I, too, have been in houses displaying such upfront identification with Aboriginal solidarity and land rights.
This is an absolutely brilliant article about the limitations of western liberal notions of equality and social justice, and it is a must read for all would-be-allies and leftist activists. Just how far do your ideals run? For most people, the answer is, “only the point where I become somewhat uncomfortable and no further”.
This is also an important article for marginalised peoples, because as Andrea Smith points out so poignantly, we all have to face the way in which White supremacy pits us against one another through what she calls the three logics of that White supremacy: (1) slaveability/anti-black racism, which anchors capitalism; (2) genocide, which anchors colonialism; and (3) orientalism, which anchors war. So when we envision a truly post-colonial existence, where do we see ourselves in relation to other marginalised groups? What discomfort must we face to overcome these logics of White supremacy?