Multimedia megaphone

November 22, 2012 11:47 am

Social media shames Aussie racists – and gives others a chance to speak out against discrimination

Over the past 24 hours, the world’s media has been ablaze with the story of an act of racism on a public bus that has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth – and done immense harm to Australia’s international reputation. The shocking tirade of a man, a woman who appeared to be his partner and other passengers on the bus abusing a French woman – whose only crime had been to sing in her native tongue – was caught on camera by several passengers, most notably Melbourne comedian Mike Nayna.

Nayna proceeded to cut together a narrated video of the outburst to be shared on YouTube. Naturally, it has gone viral, with over a million views at time of writing:

The most shocking element of the video isn’t the language, or the unprovoked nature of the attack, or even the fact that the two charming ringleaders had children with them – it’s the realisation that this kind of racially fuelled violent rage lies under the surface in our so-called civilised society.

Nayna’s video references the fact that as a ‘brown’ man he has suffered racism in Aussie society. He also mentions that all of his ethnic friends have ‘a story or two to tell’.

The power of this social media video is that it gives voice to those stories, with hard evidence that can’t be refuted by politicians’ Kumbaya rhetoric.

The fact is that it is all too easy for white Australians to buy into the idea that Australia operates on an ‘everyone gets a fair go’ mentality. Public attacks such as this are far less common than the insidious, regular racism and discrimination that many ethnic groups suffer. A quick survey of the Tick Yes office revealed that every one of the ethnic staff members had suffered racism and discrimination in this country. Regularly.

The element of social shaming in this video, while satisfying, is not the most important part of it. Like Nayna says: ‘Racism is a thing in this country. Let’s not pretend it’s not.’ Social media has an important role to play in raising awareness of that by giving people a chance to speak out to a mass audience – and, hopefully, helping end discrimination.

 

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