Monday, May 9, 2016

Andrew Judd and Racism in New Zealand

This fascinating and terribly titled video exposes what most Maori and many migrants have long known: White New Zealand is endemically racist. Now before you turn away in disgust at my unfair judgement, let me explain. White New Zealand is not racist because the people are mean and nasty. When we hear the word racist we think of horrible angry people blaming others for their misfortune and frothing a bit at the mouth. New Zealanders of all colours are the most generous and kind people you could hope to meet, of course there are always exceptions, but as a whole they are really not bad people, so to be told they are racist it is hurtful. If they saw someone in need, no matter the race they would help. If a neighbour moved in, no matter the race they would welcome them. If two people fall in love, no matter the race, they can be together. If someone does a good job (especially in sport), no matter the race, they deserve to be celebrated. I truly believe it and have seen it. So how can we possibly be racist?

We are not racist because we are horrible people, we are racist out of ignorance. And this is why when someone like Andrew Judd gets a bit more knowledge, the scales fall from his eyes and he zealously seeks a better world!

We are racist because we are ignorant of our own history.
It is no accident that Judd's conversion came after reading a history book. If people really understood what Maori have been through they wouldn't complain about having Maori issues "shoved down my throat". Try having your own language banned for 100 years by a government you didn't get to vote for. Hows that for having something shoved down your throat? Being forced to learn about Maori issues (as if anyone is) is not force feeding, it is education about your own history. Yes it will make you uncomfortable but nothing worth comparing to how uncomfortable the Maori's have been made in their own country.

We are racist because we are ignorant of democracy.
Much of the dissension in the story revolves around Maori seats on councils. White folk get upset because (in their minds) it is special treatment for a person who otherwise wouldn't be elected. But the purpose of modern democracy is not mob rule, but representative rule, The reality is councils with all white boards are not representing the Tangata Whenua in their regions. A seat or two for Maori representation would not have given any real power (more's the pity) but it would at least have given a voice to a minority who deserve to be represented just as much as "Grey Power". (oh the irony of that title) [A side issue is all the councilors getting paid not to turn up to meetings, the citizenry should have been up in arms about that, but instead, as usual the powerful scapegoat the minorities]

We are racist because we are ignorant of social legacies.
The whole "why don't they just sort themselves out" reveals the suspicion lurking in so many people minds that Maori have higher rates of poverty, crime, addiction and abuse than the rest of the population because they are too stupid or immoral to pick themselves up. They are blind to the reality that most of us have not dragged ourselves from the gutter to our current lifestyles and neither can we claim everything we have is a result of our own hard work. The families we were born into have a huge amount to do with it. Why did I stay at school and go on to university? Was it because I am smarter and more moral than a brown person? Or is it because my parents went to university, supported me to go and set me an example I could follow? In the same way when a group of people have been systematically oppressed for over a century simply ceasing oppression is not sufficient. The damage has been done the legacy has been created. While individuals may well break the mold, as a group the social legacy needs redressing to rebalance the scales. Maori can't "just get over" history because it is still affecting them now.

We are racist because we are ignorant of theology.
Perhaps the most galling for me was the the "Christian" involvement in this. Now there are always going to be idiots carrying Bibles that don't know how to read them. But how is it that with all the churches in New Plymouth no pastor sought Andrew out to encourage him and give him a different view of what Christians might think? Yes we are all called to be one in Christ (Gal 3:38). But one what? Not one monocultural society where everyone is as white as the next guy. What makes us Christians one people is not conformity to each other (and definitely not to white NZ culture) but conformity to Christ. The Bible celebrates the unity of all tribes and tongues (Yes, Te Reo!) in worship of God (Rev 7:9) and any Christian worth their salt should be doing the same.

We are racist because we tolerate Paul Henry and Mike Hoskings.
The two high priests of Middle New Zealand Racism are terrible broadcasters, joyful wallowers in the most bestial ignorance, and by reputation (it's a small town) utterly unpleasant people. Why do we continue to adore them and applaud their hateful rhetoric? Because they reflect us so well and say things we like to hear. Because we are a racist country.

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