Last Updated 23 Mar 2020

Racisim in assimilation policies from the beginning of 20th century

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Racism is a practice of human discrimination that has been practiced in many parts of the world for a long time. Research concludes that even in the modern world, racism is practiced in different facets in our society from settlement patterns in multi-ethnic cities to employment, social interaction, and in many other areas.

In the history of the world, there have been many incidences which have brought out the thorny issue of racism, some in a more direct way while others hidden in our institutions. In Australia, the practice of racism took a great height with the coming of British colonialist. Aborigines were discriminated from the rest of the society in different ways.

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Racism according to Pettman

According to Pettman and Australia National University (1986) it is difficult to define the word racism since it is more an emotive word and its meaning keep on changing with the application. Racism can therefore be defined in relation to any practice which discriminate others based on a certain stereotype.

For example in Australia social myths and stereotypes have always shown that Aborigines were not like others. In turn Australians have grown up understanding that Aborigines have one primitive culture, religion and language.

Pettman concludes that there are four dimensions of racism including;

(i)  Prejudice racism which is racism based on negative attitudes

(ii)  Discrimination racism which is racism based negative behavior

(iii)  Ideology racism is based on social myths

(iv) Institutional racism which can be evidences by institutions which foster a certain pattern of racism

Racism in Assimilation policies

BottomLey and Lepervanche (1984, p. 53) argue that assimilation policy has been widely practiced in Australia in the 20th century. The policy of removal of children from their indigenous families changed from being a state ad hoc policy to a well systematized strategy which was agreed on by governments both state and federal.

Under the practice of assimilation, there was widespread “absorption” of native children and their assimilation with the colonial culture and practices.

(i) Prejudice racism

In prejudice racism, individual are identified as relating to a particular group owing to their physical appearance, their culture or ethnic background whether it is real or supposed. Consequently they are judged according to the characteristics linked to that particular group. This it is labeling individuals on the bases of stereotyping.

Young (1998, p. 6) asserts that along the path of assimilation in Australia, there were many Aboriginal women who were raped by white men. Consequently, this gave rise to another group of “mixed race” who had no foot in ethnicity background and were referred to with a lot of embarrassment and shame.

However the society still regarded them as aboriginal despite European ancestry. Consequently they were removed from their group not because of their white blood but because if they were left to stay with the group they would end up acquiring their habits, culture and tradition. This was one of the highest levels of prejudice racism since they were treated as unequal to Europeans despite being fathered by European men owing to their relationship with Aboriginal mothers.

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