Racial profiling; is it a mainstream cup of coffee?
Racism is a complex historical phenomenon that has characterizedsettler communities’ interaction with the indigenous communities. It is popular in all the regions where immigration contributed or contributes to a significant population growth (Johnson 2002, p. 164) including Canada, Australia, Israel, and the US.In Australia, racism is a social phenomenon that is perpetuated by the immigrant communities against the indigenous aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The phenomenon is experienced in a number of social systems and services among them health care. Based on the perception and influence of racism in almost every social aspect in the Australian community, one would not be wrong to think of racism as a way of life in immigrants and indigenous association for mainstream services. This essay will seek to elaborate how racism is manifested in the Australian social life and if racism is part of life that should be accepted.To achieve this; the essay will use various social concepts among them, language, culture, religion, social organization and roles, and social stratification.
Paradies& Cunningham define racism as a global phenomenon that is exhibited in a multiplicity of forms (2009, pp. 548). The essence of racism is viewing a certain race, in most cases own, as inherently superior to the others andbelieving that a group or groups of people are not fit for a certain way of life that is held as the “right”. In Australia, as stated by Dunn et al (2004, p. 409), racism holds that the immigrant community is superior to the indigenous communities and they are the standard for the “right” way of Australian lifestyle. As a result, the indigenous communities are deemed alien. Their way of life is regarded as retrogressive and “uncivilized”.As a result of this divergent perspective towards the indigenous way of life, they are regarded inferior and always an effort is dome to alienate them from their backward ways to the mainstream, assumedly right and civilized Australian way.
As stated by Paradies and Cunningham, the first European immigrants to Australia was in the 17th century (2009, p. 549). At this time, the British Crown Colony of New SouthWales was introduced. Arguably, racism could be traced back to the same time as it was begun by the first European immigrants under their quest to alienate the colony as per British culture. Broudy et al argues that racism is closely related to civilization and globalization (2007, p. 30).During the European invasion and colonization, civilization was the phenomena that soon followed after conquering of the colonies. The essence of colonization back then was “abandon your inferior ways and adopt my superior and better ways,” which is basically the same argument that racisms finds it foundation. Moreover, racism is not an aberration or the work of individual pathology, but a set of practices and discourses which are sourced and carried through history, culture, traditions, and modernity therefore; even though certain racial and ethnic aspects remain static, news categories have risen to challenge the traditional white/colored schema of racism (Tuffin, K. 2008, p. 7).
The Australian indigenous population constitutes 2.4% of the total Australian population (ABS & AIHW 2005).These people suffer from high rates of social challenges including unemployment, low income, incarceration, sub-standard housing, and ill-health. Based on these challenges, the life expectancy of the average indigenous person is less by seventeen years from the immigrant Australians (Ahmed et al. 2007, p. 320). These challenges are in way or another related to racism and colonization.Nevertheless, there are been increased effort since 1960s to address these challenges as to bring equality and bring the mainstream services to the indigenous person. These efforts have seen the establishment of indigenous oriented health and legal bodies with the mandate of reorienting the mainstream system for indigenous suitability (Tuffin 2008, p. 5).These efforts have attracted increased research in matters indigenous.For example, in their work, Can human rights discourse improve the health of Indigenous Australians? Gray &Bailie (2006, p. 448-452), research on how human rights can be used to ensure the right health services to the indigenous communities. Their methodology relied on Cross-sectional survey of randomly selected residents of a rural Australian town with a sample size of 639. Their conclusion was that racism is still a major impediment towards successful healthcare delivery to indigenous groups.
Racism is healthcare delivery is more or less a two way highway; the mainstream health care systems considers other cultural healthcare measures primitive and inferior while these traditional healthcare supporters view the mainstream healthcare services as “not fit for our ways” (Larson et al 2007, p. 325).Based on these factors, the efforts to deliver the mainstream healthcare services to the indigenous rural communities have been with minimal results. According to Davis et al (2006, p. 1921), one of the problems why mainstream healthcare adoption by the indigenous communities has remained dismal is because the majority of healthcare attendants are not indigenous persons. This is a clear indication of the inner, normally unspoken perception by the traditional communities that, “this person is not one of ours” therefore making it hard to trust in the medication andhealthcareservices available.
Language is a major racially oriented issue in healthcare delivery. According to Burgess et al (2007, p. 884), one of the strategies to reduce biasness among healthcare providers is to teach them indigenous languages. Language in this case is an element used by the indigenous communities to profile the healthcare providers deployed in rural health centers as well as the occurring rural healthcare networks.For a white to be able to work in the rural health center effectively or at least with some level of success, they have to understand or better still speak thenative’s language.On the other hand, a native patient will remain quiet and not answer questionsposed by non-native healthcare attendants or simply abscond without any notice (Burgess et al. 2007, p 885).
Culture is another source element for racismagainst the indigenous by the immigrant communities (Ahmed et al. 2007, p. 320).The indigenous culture is characterized by divineelements in almost every aspect of it. For example, in health, the indigenous culture attributes diseases to device effects which include a punishment or as a result of one indulging excessively in evil. To the western oriented immigrants where healthcare issues are science oriented, indigenous culture is an element used to demonize the indigenous people and create biasness through race and ethnicity.The believe that indigenous culture is wrong is elaborated through the effort to alienate indigenous children resulting to the “stolen years” generation of the indigenous people (Dunn et al 2004, p. 410).
The immigrant communities and the indigenous communities have completely divergent religious orientations. The majority of immigrant subscribe to the contemporary religions; Christianity and Islam. On the other hand, the indigenous people of Australia are generally referred to as spiritual (Burgess et al. 2007, p. 887).This difference in religion is a sociological concept contributing to segregation of the minority indigenous people by the mainstream Australian society. First, the beliefs of the indigenous people characterize every aspect of their lives – socioeconomic and political. In health care for example, the entire process of diseases causation to healing or death in extreme cases is regarded with elevated divinity that makes it almost incompatible with themainstream healthcare services. According to Gray & Bailie, some of the mainstream healthcare practices are considered evil in the indigenous belief (2006, p. 450). For example, in case of death even for terminal illnesses, if the death is deemed abnormal, divine punishment for the person deemed liable is banishment from the community. These practices are deemed sideline by the immigrant communities hence an element of racial profiling (Johnson 2002, p. 176).
Australian indigenous communities have organizations which include family and gender. These organizations come into play in communication and especially of sensitive personal information (Johnson 2002, p. 170). In additional the determination of complex issues even when it is at a personal level may require family involvement. This form of organization and communication is in most cases regarded weird by many immigrants. In the healthcare system for example, a simple decision to inject a patient might require the involvement and the consent of the entire family.This makes it cumbersome and frustrating to deliverhealthcare services among thenatives. Additionally, the organizational structure is interwoven with gender (Clark 2004a, p. 510).This is generally summarized to, “there are men affairs and women affairs.” This means a female healthcare attendant cannot attend to male patients or even communicate with them in some sensitive topics which are deemed as “men only”.For a healthcare specialist who does not understand this gender-based role delegation, it is frustrating and difficult. Due to this frustration, the organizational structure and gender based roles for the indigenouspeople is a source of racial profiling (Broudy et al. 2007, p. 39).
According to Johnson (2002, p. 165), social stratification among indigenous people is not as highly defined as it is in the Asian communities. Nevertheless, stratification does occur along the cultural organization lines. Even though kinship is the primary element in determining social structures, there is an underlying stratum among indigenous communities, and it is mainly based on physical well being (Brondolo et al. 2008, p. 55). This stratification results to intraethic segregation but not racism. However, among the entire Australian communities’ social stratification, it is obvious that the indigenous communities are ranked in the lowest classes in the society.A stratum determination is Australian is mainly based on economic power and “civilization as to fit the Australian way of life”. First, the stratification basis is racial in nature as the western based immigrant way of life is used as the standard, courtesy of its perceived supremacy.By the fact thatindigenous communities are placed in the lower strata, they are looked down up racially and segregated (Clark 2004a, p. 513 ).
Racism against the indigenous Australianin the healthcare system is manifested through three main forms; personal, institutional, and systemic (Broudy et al. 2007, p. 40). Personal racism is where healthcare attendant profile and segregate indigenous people, institutional when special hospitals are set up to attend to “special”indigenous people needs, and systemic racism is when the system – the countries operational machinery -considers indigenous people as inferior and as a special needs group, not because they are, but because they are indigenous people.The government has invested enormously in promoting equality, but it is no news that racism remains entrenched within the society. However, there is widespread denial of racism. In the efforts to bring equality, all the strategies employed have always been strength-based, for example, in healthcare patient-centered approaches are used, and in service delivery client-centered approaches are employed. Tuffin (2008, p. 13) argues that the approaches used are racially discriminating in nature because they seem to shift blame from the perpetrator to the target, and the silentquestion therein is very loud, “why don’t you fit it?”
It is worth noting that, everybody clearly understand that racial profiling of an individual is an evil. Based on the known and practical observance of the society, one cannot fail to note that this realization has only serves as a precaution. Racism is in a way or another deeply rooted in the core of the society, especially the so called superior races (Westbrooke et al. 2001, p. 485).The society, especially potential racial perpetrators harbor unwitting racial perception of dominance and regard for the indigenous as minority groups which are evident when racism is out of the picture. However, at the mention of racism makes the same people turn to denial (Ahmed et al. 2007, p. 325).Silence about racism is considered an act of oppression and on the other hand, silence/denial/ignoring are major strategies that endorse racism.
In conclusion, racism in Australian is a social phenomenon that is complex and historically deep-rooted. It is mainly perpetrated by the immigrant communities that regard the indigenouslycommunities as inferior and retarded. In the healthcare system, racism is manifested through a number of ways. first, to some extent, both the immigrant communities and the indigenous communities seems to racially profile each other where the immigrants consider their mainstream healthcare systems superior, so the mainstream attribute, and immigrants consider immigrants as “not our own”. Second, language is used in racial profiling with the immigrant healthcareattendants required to learn indigenous language to work in rural healthcenters. Three, immigrants regard indigenous culture as retrogressive. Fourth, indigenous religion which is divergent from the immigrants believes is viewed as weird. First, social organization among the indigenous are regarded as impossible and frustrating. Sixth, indigenous communities are placed in the lowest strata in the Australian society. Racism is experienced interpersonal, institutionally, and through the system. The strategies used to combat racism are all strength-based which is a poor strategy as it only shifts the blame to the target for not fitting in. even though many people will verbally deny being racial, they unwittingly prove otherwise. Therefore, it is elaborate how racism is manifested in the Australian social life and if racism is part of life that should be accepted, it is concluded to the negative, even though it is true that racism is a silent rampant phenomenon.
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