Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keep your poverty out of my face

The Alice Springs council has hit upon a magnificent way to further racism without discomforting any of its white inhabitants (or realistically anyone who has sufficient means to look after themselves).

The ABC have reported that the council has put out a set of by-laws for public comment. They include such things as being able to remove and destroy the blankets of homeless people that are stashed away during the day by their owners. Currently, rangers are allowed to remove them from their hidey holes, but are obliged to return them to an Indigenous organisation. From the above-linked article:

The Mayor of Alice Springs, Damien Ryan, says the new by-laws are what the community wants.

"Begging is an issue that is not very acceptable in the fact that people prey on other people, they prey on the elderly, they prey on visitors, they prey on families," he said.

"I mean begging, or humbugging, is something that is not appreciated in the community.

"We don't have anyway to stamp that out, that's why this has been brought about."

Yes, please keep your filthy poverty out of my face. How dare you show up how much our society has failed you?

The Mayor has denied racism, but realistically, the fact that the retrieved blankets are currently returned to an "Indigenous organisation" belies that. Not to mention that whether it is racist or classist hardly matters, it is stomping on those most disadvantaged instead of facing up to the challenge of addressing that disadvantage.

Don't get me wrong, I have an inkling of the problems faced by a council trying to deal with endemic poverty in an indigenous population. There are no quick fixes, generations of disadvantage can't be wiped away with a grant or a new house. But I think I can fairly confidently say that kicking the poorest of your people in the teeth is unlikely to resolve any long standing social issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment