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The Civil Rights Movement and African American Discriminations

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Racism has a major impact on the Aborigines, and this is why they have a lower socioeconomic status and severely lower health to the rest of Australians. Therefore, something needs to be done now to remove racism from society. The United States Civil Rights movement strongly influenced activism in Australia in the 1960s and made Australians acknowledge the racism and discrimination that was happening within their own country. This has resulted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gaining land rights and the right to vote as well as being counted as part of the population. These changes have been great and changed the Indigenous peoples lives significantly but there is still an undeniable problem in our society with racism towards the Aborigines. I strongly believe that further changes need to happen to fix the inequalities in our nation and most importantly people’s attitudes need to change towards the Aborigines.

The Civil Rights Movement was a battle for African American equality in America during the mid-20th century. African Americans had to face discriminations every day e.g. they had to go to black only bathrooms, they weren’t allowed to get a education and if a white person wanted to sit down on the bus a black person had to stand up and give them their seat. By the 1950s the African Americans had had enough of violence and prejudice against so them along with many whites started protesting for black rights and equalities for African Americans. This lasted between 1954 to 1968. The Civil Rights Movement influenced Australia activism because the Civil Rights Movement was such a major event that Australians were seeing this on television and were supportive towards African Americans looking for equality. The discrimination of the Aborigines in Australia was so like the discrimination of the African Americans in America, so it didn’t take long for some Australians to put two and two together and realise that treatment of the Aborigines wasn’t fair. Charles Perkins was one of the first Australians to realise the racism towards the Aborigines and he was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr to make a difference.

In a search for African American equality on the 4th of May 1961 a group of white and black American Civil Rights activists took part in bus trips through the southern states of America to protest segregated bus terminals. There goal was to gain equality for African Americans. They were known as the American freedom Riders and over the next couple of months hundreds more Freedom Riders took part in the same acts. The Freedom Riders actions eventuated in the Interstate Commerce Commission removing segregation at bus and train stations in September the same year. Charles Perkins was inspired by the American Freedom Rides and in February 1965 Charles Perkins lead a group of 30 students from Sydney University in a bus through townships in rural New South Wales. Perkins objective was to expose the racism towards the Aborigines and their poor living conditions. Perkins gained attention from all around the world, spreading awareness of the racism towards the Aborigines. Perkins actions were so significant that he helped force a Referendum 2 years later that would remove individual, state control over the way the Aboriginal people were governed and would count the Aborigines as part of the population. The vote wasn’t even close 90% to 10% in favour of this change and this led to a significant improvement to the Aborigines living conditions and how they were treated. The Referendum allowed the Australian Government to change the Constitution so that the Government could be involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. This was a breakthrough because the Australian Government could make laws that were specific to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that could address the inequalities and racism towards them. One of the first things the Government did was to make a Council of Aboriginal Affairs. The council discussed the inequalities regarding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with the ministers from each of the states and territories. With all of these changes this did not end racism towards the Aborigines.

Aboriginals have gained equal rights to the rest of Australians, however there is still a massive issue with racism towards the Aborigines. The Aborigines have a shorter life expectancy, poorer health and lower levels of education and employment. These are the results of racism towards the Aborigines and this why we need to act now. Racism has such a devastating impact on the Aborigines that they are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than a non-indigenous Australian and 95% of Aborigines are affected by a suicide. The biggest issue of the racism towards the Aborigines is people failing to realise that it still exists. To cut out racism towards the Aborigines everyone needs to realise the impact it has on their lives and make a change to remove racism from society. To change the suicide statistic, we need to make the Aborigines aware of the mental health facilities available to them. Even in the professional of AFL there is racism, in 2015 Adam Goodes an indigenous AFL footballer was booed into retirement calling out a derogatory comment made by a young spectator, he was forced to walk away from the game because of this. Racism is often associated with racial slurs about appearance and fake prejudices, however casual racism is harder to notice. Casual racism is an issue because most of the time its unintended to be racist and is a negative comment concerning race. Casual racism can demoralise, humiliate and marginalise the individual who is receiving it. The hard thing is casual racism is hard to identify so it is hard to change.

In Conclusion, The Civil Rights Movement has influenced activism in Australia which has resulted in the Aboriginals gaining the right to vote and more equality, however racism is as big of an issue and is impacting people’s health and lives because of this. It can’t just be one or two people it must be everyone to make a change and treat the Aborigines the same as everyone else.

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