Recent arguments about non-Anglo migration have focused on ‘unsuitability’ rather than ‘inferiority’ of  the racialized "other."  Discuss this apparent change including reference to the...

Recent arguments about non-Anglo migration have focused on ‘unsuitability’ rather than ‘inferiority’ of  the racialized "other."  Discuss this apparent change including reference to the concept of ‘new’ racism and racialization in Australian society.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the form of "new racism" in Australia is more subtle and nuanced than its more overt predecessor. The reality is that it is as destructive and much more sinister.  It is a way for racism and discrimination to reveal itself in an almost "acceptable" manner.  As a result, practices and policies are influenced in a way that conveys racism without the direct overtones so commonly associated with it.

Part of the idea of "unsuitability" as a part of the new racism in Australia is motivated by its direct targets.  The newer vision of prejudicial attitudes converge on both the emergence of indigenous people and immigrants into the Australian national consciousness.  Being able to assert that indigenous people are "unsuitable" for integration into modern Australian society serves to justify their past treatment and relegation.  It is framed in an almost merciful manner, a way to suggest that the silencing of voice was done to prevent the perceived obvious fact that they are incapable of adjusting to the modern conditions in Australian society. The ability to suggest that indigenous individuals cannot function in Australian society helps to conceal how discriminatory practices on all levels perpetuates such challenges.  This was suggested in a United Nations report in 2005 in its suggestion that, amongst other realities, there were "very poor conditions of employment, housing, health, education and income for indigenous Australians, compared with non-indigenous persons."   

At the same time, being able to suggest that immigrants to Australia are "incapable" or "unsuitable" to meet the so- called demands of modern society helps to justify limiting their entrance into the nation.  If one is able to frame their opposition to "the other" under the guise of unsuitability, it becomes   almost compassionate.  It is offered in the vein of trying to limit frustration and pain that would be experienced, no doubt, as a result of racist and discriminatory attitudes.  For example, verbal and physical attacks on Indian students are framed by some to suggest that Australian life is too challenging for integration.  In being able to argue that "the other" is unsuitable to fit into Australian life, a standard is affirmed.  This condition argues that the negative experiences of "the other" in Australian society is somehow their fault, and reflective of an inability to successfully navigate the "rigor" of Australian life.

It is in this light where the "new racism" of Australia presents itself.  Ever as deadly as its predecessor, it makes racist attitudes and discriminatory practices easier to appropriate.  It comes out in different forms, even in the means through which individuals communicate with one another:  

Suggestions of racism may also be dismissed as an overreaction, where people think that telling a racist joke, for example, should be taken as just a bit of fun. Too often, stories start with “I’m not racist, but...”

This form of "denialism" outwardly affirms that racism is a problem.  However, it seeks to disavow connection to this supposedly repugnant reality because it stresses that individuals need to be "tougher."  Those who are not are "unsuitable" for mobility in Australian society.  This new form of racism seeks to outwardly distance itself from discrimination by being able to assign blame to the victims of its practice.  For example, if individuals are offended by a racist statement or joke, they are branded as "too sensitive" or "overreacting."  This is where the new racism in the racialization of Australia is taking hold.  It is a direct response the multicultural reality that has become a result of a globalized world, suggesting that Australia, like so many nations, must assert a firm hold on the conditions of racism that are present in its social setting.

melsboys | Student

Hi Ashley,

Is this a shared answer that can be accessed by the public?

melsboys | Student


melsboys | Student


melsboys | Student

linksto academic papers

melsboys | Student


Through a social constructivist approach explanations of a shift in ideological thinking from old racism to new racism are explored through different forms of racist beliefs, both sociobiological understandings of race and cultural differentation that underpin attitudes of inferiority and unsuitability of non-Anglo migrants.