The Trouble With Alice

The Trouble With Alice

{Editors note: Please see below excerpts from an excellent article by Jennifer Mills 8 June 2010 in The New Matilda. To read the entire article go to}

Residents of Alice Springs reject the notion that their town is rife with racism and violence. But unless they admit there is a problem, nothing will change, writes Jennifer Mills…

Recently, a by-law has been enforced by Alice Springs Town Council which bans Aboriginal people from selling their art in the mall.

…And tomorrow, the resale royalty scheme for the sale of Indigenous art comes into effect. Is the timing ironic?

… a law which applies to everyone might not be discriminatory, but if it is designed to target Aboriginal people, it is still racist.

…Recently I had visitors, a couple of Aboriginal poets on their way to the NT Writers’ Festival in Darwin. They went to the shop to get some
food. One waited outside so he could smoke and was rudely moved along by a security guard. He wondered if this would have happened to him if he hadn’t been wearing the Aboriginal flag on his shirt.

…Less than a year ago, 33-year-old Kwementyaye Ryder was beaten to death by five white men. Four of these men were recently sentenced to
between four and six years in jail. Afterward, Damien Ryan, the Mayor of Alice Springs, famously declared that this is not a racist town.

…At the NT Writers’ Festival a couple of weeks ago, Germaine Greer talked during her panel on “Australian myths” about witnessing an
incident at Darwin’s art gallery the previous day. She had seen a policeman push an Aboriginal man with his boot.

…”You’ve become inured to it,” she (Greer) said. “This would never happen in Europe.” … I am not sure that Territorians have become inured to racist violence. Institutional racism, yes.

…This kind of everyday racism, the kind that outraged Greer, is so common that maybe it is true we have become inured to it. …
What struck me most about Greer’s treatment of the incident she witnessed was that it did nothing for the audience’s paralysis — save
raising the issue. What are the alternatives — apart from running a line that Alice is the new Johannesburg?

…Be a hero:
mates don’t let mates drive into riverbeds and shoot people. If just one of those five men had said no (and the driver was sober) last year, Kwementyaye Ryder would still be alive.

…In the absence of political leadership it is up to everyone in Alice Springs to take responsibility for building a decent society. We need
to tackle racism at work, in the shop, in the street, write letters to the Ombudsman when we witness police violence, talk about racism with
our kids. It is hard work but the consequences of not doing it are worse. We need to fight racism on every level. If we continue to be
paralysed by the complexity of the issue we will end up with a town plagued by escalating violence — and ruled by bullies.

Please comment down below