Racist Moral Panic

I’ve seen a few “progressive” White people sharing a newstory about the newly established African-Australian community taskforce, without recognising that this is giving in to scaremongering. Yet White people feel comforted by the idea that “African community leaders” are doing “the right thing” to keep people safe (read: White people). The nation must critically examine how Whiteness drives these responses. There’s increased policing of South Sudanese-Australian groups not because there’s a specific problem – data show that the majority of youth crime is committed by White youth. The motivation to criminalise African-Australians coincides with the election year. 

Migrants are forced to publicly comply with racist agendas because of the increased stigma to their communities. There are many videos, accounts and police reports of people from various African backgrounds being attacked by White people for simply being Black, emboldened by politicians and the moral panic of “good” White people. So where’s the White crime taskforce? 

Would White people would feel so comforted clapping for hyper policing if White people had to routinely give press conferences every other day standing beside uniforms? Or if White people had to prove their humanity over and over, and to perform for their place here?

Black people are always held to a higher standard; they are hyper scrutinised; and publicly pushed cooperate with the racist state as a way to quell increased racist attacks against their communities.

We need to stop accepting that racism is normal. It is the foundation of this country, but it does not need to be the present and future.

Interesting that White people aren’t very bothered by what White supremacist groups are currently up to, or the fact that two White supremacists were arrested in the past 18 months in Sydney and and the Central Coast with stockpiled weapons

It’s curious that the rise in support for refugee issues on Manus Island have quelled. Two points to ponder:

  1. Many South Sudanese Australians are refugees, but because they’re positioned as a “threat,” their achievements, knowledge and hard work is subsumed by political rhetoric and media hyperbole. They are put into the position of joining taskforces to receive recognition for the work they’re already doing within their communities.
  2. Up to 600 refugees remain on Manus Island. But we’ve mostly stopped talking about them because the nation is caught up in the frenzy over Black-Australian refugees in Australia.

By the way, in the past month, several “out of control” parties where police were called have been reported on by the media without racialising White people. These articles never once use the word “gang violence,” despite the fact that there was violence by large groups of young White people in Western Australia; in Melbourne; and Sydney.

Racist moral panics are cyclical and accepted as a logical early phase for all new non-English-speaking groups. This logic naturalises racism in a detrimental pattern.

Next time you read a newstory and don’t see any mention of race, culture or religion, that’s White supremacy at work. We need to reject this pattern of racist dog whistling.

Image: Victorian Chief Police Commissioner Graham Ashton gives a press conference surrounded by African-Australian community leaders.

5 thoughts on “Racist Moral Panic

  1. As a white American with some ‘progressive’ inclinations, let me say that the same thing is found in the good ol’ US of A. I’m sure you’re already familiar with American racism.

    What you’re describing reminds me of the Democrats during Bill Clinton’s administraton in the 1990s. In campaigning for the presidency, he gave a speech about being tough-on-crime while standing in front of chained black prisoners and in the background was the mountain that is infamous for being the site of the most important Klan memorial. A clear message was being sent.

    Black leaders supported Bill Clinton’s tough-on-crime policies, as white progressives cheered it on. It led to further racialized policing and incarceration, along with a worsening of the school-to-prison pipeline. Yet, then as now, most crime is caused by whites and to an even greater extent for mass killings.

    Research has proven that crime and specifically violent crime is correlated to two main factors that have nothing directly to do with race: poverty and lead toxicity. We’ve decreased though not eliminated the latter and the former is still a major problem. Of course, both disproportionately harm minorities because of a history of economic biases in housing and employment along with environmental racism.

    No doubt it is the same basic pattern in both Australia and the United States. It’s the entrenched legacy of colonial imperialism that continues to shape the minds and behaviors, practices and policies of each new generation.


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