Racism so deep, that it’s structural, institutional. In 1983, I wrote that despite an increasing number of overseas born culturally diverse Australians, that they and their Australian born children did not reflect in the demography of the nation’s parliaments and boardrooms.
I have been writing about this for three and a half decades. More than one quarter of Australians are overseas born with the majority from culturally diverse backgrounds, whose first language is not English.
However the boardrooms of this nation’s major institutions and corporations do not reflect a multicultural Australia. The latest report reaffirms the Australian modernist narrative of White privilege, of an ongoing oppressor/oppressed dichotomy.
Australia’s schools and universities describe a conflictual narrative. Australians of non-European heritage are graduating in both greater numbers than ever before, and at higher rates compared to Australians with predominately European heritage. However despite the parity of outcomes with educational institutions, the advancement of Australians of non-European heritage among the nation’s CEOs and on their boards remains negligible.
The latest report, this one by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), confirms that Australia’s leadership and executive culture is a sea of White privilege. For Australians of non-European heritage they barely get a look-in.
Anglo-Celtic Australians overwhelmingly dominate the boardrooms and also political leadership. The AHRC report confirms 4.7 per cent of senior executives described non-European heritage while only 0.4 per cent identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders.
This is in line with what I have been describing during the last decade, that to reflect the nation’s demography in the boardrooms that there needs to be an increase by 10 times of non-European Australians as CEOs of major entities, and in their executives and boardrooms. There needs to be an increase by 7 times of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders.
The ARHC report examined the cultural backgrounds of 200 ASX company CEOs, federal ministers, heads of federal and state and territory government departments, and university vice-chancellors.
The study confirmed 75.9% of the 2490 people occupying the most senior posts in Australia are from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds. It confirmed 19% have a European background. Only 4.7% were confirmed with a non-European background while 0.4% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders.
The study also confirmed what we have also long known with senior leadership in Australia’s universities that the Australians with Anglo-Celtic heritage dominate.
Racism is a beast that threatens those whom it stares down and it regularly mauls its prey. This beast remains at all times as a firmament in the institutions of this Australian nation. Racism copiously pollutes. The racists of my generation are the senior leadership, including parliamentarians, of today. This is testimony to how young and raw the Australian nation borne of White privilege, oppression and exploitation.
Criticising the status quo unleashes a barrage of hostile denials much the same as did the unpacking of patriarchy. White privilege all of a sudden argues victimhood, the oppressor screams.
There are no crash-through visionaries in our parliaments or among the nation’s most senior leadership who will take on the beast of racism in the way it should be challenged or who will defend the soul of the nation’s demography. There is no power-sharing, only the grip of rule, there is no harmony, only silence and censorship by omission.
Australia’s White privilege holds tight on an agenda of assimilation. White privilege has got away with too much for too long that it should have been unimaginable but this damnation of the rest of should not be allowed. The nation’s identity cannot be defined till as such time as its humanity is complete.
Institutional racism is about privilege and power, about preserving the biased interests of the oppressor. Any authentic discourse about racism is a threat to the oppressor. The oppressor concedes only a level of perceived equality that will not threaten their hold on power.
The oppressor is the problem, not the oppressed. The oppressed have never been the problem, are not the problem, never will be the problem. There should be more significant focus on examining the oppressor and less examination on the oppressed.