Last year I told a family member off for sending myself and my children Anti-Islamic memes and One Nation misinformation on Facebook. I explained it was racist, ignorant and offensive. He argued he had a right to state his opinion, I told him he didn’t have a right to tell us, because we didn’t fucking ask his opinion.
I then expressed my concerns that it was offensive to my friends and my children’s friends who are Muslim. He said he has friends who are Muslim. I said you can’t be a friend to them if you spread this hate and bigoted, racists, Anti-Islam crap. I then de-friended him. He’s not my family. I think my husband and kids thought I was overreacting, but then Christchurch happened, and then i saw this Facebook post that was written by someone and shared widely and it hurt to read.
Why didn’t people stand up to him? Why was I the only one?
Then again last year, it seems 2018 was the Year of Excusing the Racist, I got into an online brawl again over the racist cartoon of Serena Williams. A few black friends reached out privately to say thank you for the stand I took, and said they were afraid of saying anything because they thought the people on my page, who refused to see sense would turn on them with racist comments. One of those was a young black girl from Melbourne, who said she had the cartoon cut out and stuck to her locker, so you tell me if it was racist or not.
Far out, it’s tiring trying to learn for other people, isn’t it? But I think it’s more tiring for those in the spotlight. I know my white privilege gives me a place to speak out freely and denounce and de-friend and get on with my life, but for those who have to face that shit on a daily basis, fuck me, you are braver than me, and stronger and I know why you’re angry. The rage I feel with such ignorance is probably a tiny percentage of what you feel, I don’t know, I can’t speak for anyone else but me, but I can speak out.
Over the past six months I have taken the view that if I won’t speak up, then who the hell will? Who will speak up for the children who are in refugee camps, for those who have a different religion, for those who have different coloured skin, or larger lips, or women who have been killed by partners.
The spreading of hate is not free speech when it hurts other people. We are not snowflakes when we ask people to not be ignorant and to be more responsible for what they say. We are not lefties when we ask Facebook to take down anti-Islam pages, and we are not being nasty women when we call out men who abuse females. We are simply asking for people to step the fuck up and do better.
I feel like everyone thought that ignoring the festering wound of racism is enough. Don’t pay it any attention, they said, but that wound is now so infected from so many ignoring it, that it’s become a pus filled limb, and short of amputation, I don’t know if there is a cure.
I asked my husband to think about WW2. Would you have done something? Would you? I asked.
We all like to think we would have but I don’t see many who I think would have stepped up and hidden jewish people, or gay, or black people, or tried to find ways to get them out of the country into a safe place. It is bizarre to me that we see so many of those, Wonderful Saviours in History memes on Facebook and Instagram, about people who smuggled children and adults out via secret compartments in bags or furniture, and don’t see that these are the heroes the world currently needs.
Every religion and every ideology has extremism. Stopping a woman from having a blood transfusion during childbirth is medical terrorism. Raping small children for years and not standing up to the Priest, is sexual terrorism. Not allowing families to see each other after leaving the church is familial terrorism. Some people do it with guns and bombs, some people do it with rules and rhetoric. It’s all the same outcome.
The question is, are you prepared to stand up for other people? Are you prepared to tell a family member they are racist even when they refuse to be educated? Are you prepared to stand up for a woman who is being harassed in a public space? Are you prepared to stand up to the man who is speaking about a woman in a demeaning and disgusting manner? Are you prepared to tell someone off when they make a racists and bigoted remark about anyone? Are you prepared to tell someone not to send racists content via social media? Are you prepared to report them online? In person to the police or Cybercrime network? Are you prepared to look into the Priest or the teacher who the children tell rumours about?
Are you prepared to stand in front of them, protect these vulnerable minorities? If you are, then you are who I want to know. You are the one who makes a difference. I don’t care if you are family or not. The DNA we share doesn’t include our values and morals and kindness. No racism, no bigotry, and no bullshit is allowed on my watch.