How the racism of low expectations holds back progress while disempowering…

‘Greens should just shut up and listen’ by Jacinta Price via Bill Kerr’s blog.

This article originally appeared in ‘The Australian’. Yeah, I know – the Murdoch press. Well, I don’t care where it was published. It needs to be read. The issue is way too important and way too urgent.


no more


When elders from the communities of Kununurra, Wyndham and Ceduna travelled to Canberra last week with a video revealing the appalling violence on their streets, they delivered a strong message. Those streets are war zones of drug and alcohol-fuelled assaults and child abuse — and they want it to stop.

The video, supported by West Australian mining businessman Andrew Forrest, proves the desperate need for the cashless debit card system that quarantines 80 per cent of welfare recipients’ payments to limit access to alcohol, drugs and gambling.

These elders are crying out for the lives of the children being assaulted and abused. In one of these communities, 187 children are victims of sexual abuse with 36 men facing 300 charges, and a further 124 are suspects.

I know all too well the deep frustrations these Australian citizens feel as they are desperate to save their people from the crisis being played out day after day in their communities. They have long fought for our political leaders to recognise the need to take the tough — sometimes unpopular but necessary — steps to make meaningful change that will save the lives of Aboriginal children, women and men.

So why do large numbers of our media and our political leaders (including some indigenous ones) fail to respond to such clear evidence of assault, child abuse and violence at the hands of our own people but are prepared to call for a royal commission when the perpetrator is a white person in uniform or when institutionalised racism is perceived to be at play?

A television report on the horrendous treatment of juvenile inmates at Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre swiftly sparked a royal commission. Yet footage of an Aboriginal man stomping on an Aboriginal woman and various other vicious acts — which in my view are far more shocking than that of the Don Dale footage — draws criticism by the Greens that the video was simply propaganda for the cashless welfare card. This is not propaganda; it is proof.

We hear regularly that we should be listening to Aboriginal people on the ground to understand the complexities of the problems and to encourage us to find solutions for our horrific circumstances. Well, here is a video created by Aboriginal leaders in conjunction with the wider community, including the police and a mayor, pleading for the implementation of a practical measure to help curb the purchase of alcohol and drugs so the lives of the most marginalised Australians may be improved. No, it is not a magic bullet, but it is a start towards improving the lives of Australian citizens in crisis.

Forrest has been criticised for telling the world that he has been approached by minors willing to sell sex. A 14-year-old I know who roams Alice Springs streets at night regularly witnesses children selling themselves to “old” Aboriginal men for alcohol and cigarettes. We pass such information on to the police, who already know it is happening, yet the authorities responsible for these children tells us they have seen no evidence of it. Just as there was a conspiracy of silence to deny the reality of frontier violence, now there seems to be a conspiracy of silence on the left to deny what is happening openly in our streets.

The evidence of deep crisis has never been so blatant. This trauma is inflicted on our people by substance abuse and violence fuelled by a taxpayer-funded disposable income. However, if a rich white man throws his support behind a group of frustrated and desperate indigenous leaders living with this trauma their plea simply is dismissed as perverse by the politically correct without offering any effective alternative solutions.

The Greens call Forrest paternalistic, yet WA Greens senator Rachel Siewert has the audacity to tell indigenous people how we should think, what our problems are and what we should be doing about it. Siewert and her party chose not to meet the elders who came all the way to Canberra from their remote communities to communicate the real problems.

The Greens reaction is nothing more than the racism of low expectations and egocentric virtue-signalling of those toeing the line of an ideology that is further compounding the crisis. If the video shocked you, good. It should; and what should follow is an appropriate response that recognises the human right of Aboriginal women, children and men to live in safety, free of drug and alcohol-driven violence and sexual abuse. Sacrificing whole generations to violence and abuse does not help the fight against racism. It reinforces it.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is an Alice Springs councillor and a research associate at the Centre for Independent Studies.This article originally appeared in ‘The Australian’.

9 thoughts on “How the racism of low expectations holds back progress while disempowering…

  1. The following letter appeared in The Australian the day after Price’s piece with minor editing – “fey or pseudo” was omitted by the paper’s Letters editor.
    “Jacinta Price named some home truths in yesterday’s Australian (Greens Should Shut up, Listen). As someone who has worked with family violence issues in central Australia and whose son has worked at an indigenous school in the Kimberley, the shocking revelations in the video she refers to do not surprise. Nor, sadly, do the dismissive responses of the Greens whose pretence in referring to themselves as ‘progressive’ needs calling out. The arrogance in their refusal to speak to community leaders and elders who had come to Canberra, contained behind a veil of fey or pseudo leftism, is, on this issue at least, reactionary.”
    Readers may note the equivocation in the letter regarding how reactionary the Greens are. This was a compromise I made for the purposes of maximizing the chances of getting the letter published and focussing squarely on the matter at hand.


    • The editing out of ‘fey’ and pseudo’ is hardly minor.

      I’ve noticed in the comments sections of mainstream media on this issue that individuals who preface their comment by saying they worked or lived in remote communities take a more consistent line about the urgency and the need for cultural change (along with other things) than those who are urban dwellers or disconnected from the reality in other ways.

      Re-The Greens party. Years ago I had an opinion piece rejected by one of the mainstream newspapers on the grounds that it was too critical of the Greens. The editor was quite open about this. My article was critical of them from a Marxist or left-wing point of view.


  2. Pingback: How the racism of low expectations holds back progress while disempowering… — C21st Left | World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum.

  3. I support providing welfare to people in the form of goods rather than in the form of cash when that person has proved to be a dysfunctional person ie by spending welfare on booze rather than on food especially where children are involved. How a person exhibiting that level of dysfunction can be in charge of children is beyond me. Just 2 days ago I was arguing with people from the Public Trustee who have (against my advice) changed a person over from cheques (to Foodland) and has replaced this with full cash payments.(welfare in the form of food cheques is common in South Australian mental health services but recently Public Trustee has decided to go to cash payments) People who are pretty dysfunctional will get around the system and make the stats look pretty good by moving to another area, changing to meth, selling the food at low prices and as my earlier example said when cash money ran out “well Ill sell my box on Hanson road”. Taking away someones autonomy to spend their money in whatever way they see fit is a pretty serious infringement of their human rights but as I said before is sometimes the best option.
    Embracing the rightwing idea that theres a racism of low expectations is a wrong move. This stuff comes from America and is part of the rights campaign against affirmative action. It would look silly for Communists to oppose affirmative action because Communists invented it. People in Communist countries were promoted in the Red and Expert campaign where poorer academic students were favored because of factors like family background and political views. I cant remember the name of the film but there was a Chinese movie and the scene was where a peasant was applying to university and he was asked for his qualifications and in response he showed them the calluses on his hands and said these are my qualifications.
    I notice in the reports of the welfare card a lower pokies take is cited. Personally while the government receives buckets of money from these blights on poor communities. I cant find the words to express how angry I am about the way pokies are run. The government is a direct beneficiary in a rip off of problem gamblers usually found in poor communities.


  4. Hi Barry,
    I notice that my last contribution didn’t make it past moderation. My last contribution made the following points
    1: I support income management for people people who are dysfunctional
    2: The term racism of low expectations is a concept developed by the right in the USA to oppose affirmative action.
    3: Affirmative action was developed in Communist societies to inject more workers and peasants into professional positions.


    • Steve,

      I don’t really care who first came up with the idea of “racism of low expectations”. I think I first heard it from Noel Pearson, someone I place on the left in terms of valuing empowerment and progress. If there is a fault with the notion, which I think has enormous value in exposing a new type of racism, then you need to do better than claim it was “developed by the right in the USA to oppose affirmative action”.

      I oppose the racism of low expectations and I also support affirmative action. Again, I draw on individuals such as Noel Pearson who speaks of the need to provide a ‘hand up’ rather than just keep giving a hand-out.

      I’ll take your word for the fact that affirmative action was developed in ‘communist societies’ last century. So were five-year plans, and other things adopted by the capitalists in capitalist societies.

      In the USA, affirmative action was strongly pushed by Richard Nixon when he was president. He brought in Executive Order 11478, extending the previous affirmative action policy of the war-monger Kennedy.

      Nothing you’ve said challenges the courageous Jacinta Price’s view that the Greens need to get real and start listening.


  5. Barry the argument goes like this. One side the liberal side has the bigoted idea that minorities arn’t capable of competing in a free market (the racism of low expectations) therefor these liberal types promote ideas which are designed to help the minorities but in reality hamper them. Any “assistance” is seen to be a hand out and strips the recipient of the resilience needed to compete. The student allowed into Uni with lower grades is prone to struggle and fail Praeger Uni has some examples
    We both support Affirmative action but this is clearly the racism of low expectations.
    You have raised the work of Noel Pearson and I have seen him in one breath denounce the racists of low expectations and in the next breath praise G.W Bush for his education reform, No Child left behind (NCLB) and I agree that this bipartisan programme was good but it failed because government in the USA failed to fund it properly. I have no expertise in education let alone education in the US but it still seems obvious to me that the US system of funding schools from land taxes in that schools district is a way to entrench discrimination that no amount of affirmative action can overcome. What is needed is a system where each child is funded by need NCLB or in this country Gonski


  6. Everything depends on concrete analysis.

    “Affirmative action” can be positive in some circumstances and turn into its opposite in others.

    Similar issue to slogans about “multiculturalism” and “assimilation”.

    Forced assimilation actually hinders assimilatio. “Multiculturalism” can actually promote it.


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