News & Current Affairs

By Erin Taylor

26.06.20

Dear Keyboard Warriors, please actually read this blog before you comment

It is the culture of privilege, the unconscious bias and culture of acceptance that has been at the core of the Black Lives matter protests and the public rhetoric. I have been horrified reading many of the comments on our last two blog posts (which can be found here and here). The ignorance, intolerance and frankly abhorrent attitudes have left me feeling ashamed to be a white person in this modern society. I cannot sit by as a partner in this firm and allow those sorts of comments to remain on our blog posts unchallenged.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not opposed to people having the right to voice their opinions. I understand that there is a left and a right and that on many issues we will disagree. Where I take issue is comments with no logical basis, comments that are clearly ignorant of the true issues and comments that incite hatred and intolerance.

So, this is for all you keyboard warriors:

I am not threatened by the “Black Lives Matter” protests. I do not think our indigenous citizens (or any of our black citizens) in protesting as they have, are blaming me for the horrors of the past or present. I am not threatened by our black citizens standing up and saying “hey, I don’t want to be treated this way anymore, enough is enough”. I understand that all our black citizens are saying to me is “I want you to recognise how we have been and continue to be treated and help be part of the solution to stop that”.

Our legal system and our society are premised on the rule of law. The rule of law is the idea that every person is subject to the laws of the land regardless of their status. It is also the idea that you cannot be punished or have your rights affected other than in accordance with a law, and only after a breach of the law has been established in a court of law.

The Black Lives Matter campaign and particularly the protests against black deaths in custody or at the hands of police is not about saying black people should not be subject to the law. It is not black people saying if they have committed a crime it should be ignored. It is about them saying “I deserve the right to have my day in court, not for the police to be the judge, jury and executioner, my life matters, regardless of what I have or haven’t done in my life”.

Over the years, we have made it illegal to discriminate against people based on their race, sex, age, sexual preference etc. We have increased penalties for domestic violence and tried to cast a light on issues like gender and racial biases. But none of those measures will work while this culture of privilege continues.

A middle to upper-class white male is the most privileged creature in our society. When I say this, it is not a threat to you men folk. I am not saying all white men are evil and you all walk around with a privilege chip on your shoulder. I am not saying you haven’t worked hard in your life and you don’t deserve whatever you have achieved in life. Nor am I saying that because one man has done something awful that all of you should be guilty of it or be blamed for it. It is simply to say, as a white man you are far more likely to get a job over an equally qualified indigenous candidate or a female candidate and that’s all by virtue of your race and your manhood. You are far less likely to be put in jail or shot running away from police. And please, before you get up in arms about that last sentence, when I say you are less likely to be put in jail, I do not mean police ignore white people’s crimes or necessarily target black people. I mean, there are so many socio economic and societal factors that drive crime rates in less privileged sectors of our society. You are far less likely to be sexually assaulted or harassed or the victim of domestic violence.

As a middle-class white woman, I am aware I am also privileged in the same way (except when it comes to a choice of me vs a similarly qualified man).

When a black person says that I am privileged, for all the reasons I have mentioned above (and many more like my life expectancy as compared to my indigenous counterparts, my education, my earning capacity, the fact that I can walk down the street without being racially abused etc) they are right, I am. No black person is saying to me I don’t deserve the privileges I have earned, that is, my university degrees or my business or my material possessions. They are simply saying, as a white person, you enjoy the privilege of not being discriminated against because of your skin colour.

As humans, we have a duty to hold each other to higher standards. And I am asking you to raise the standard. Do some reading about the issues that cause you disquiet. Ask yourself why you feel so passionately about these issues. Are you threatened? Are you scared? Are you prepared to open your minds and put yourselves in someone else’s shoes before you get on your keyboards?

If the answer is no, then keep your posts to yourself and keep them off our page. Our blogs are designed to be informative, to be thought provoking and incite lively, intelligent debate about issues arising from the law and happening in society. We have no time or tolerance for your hatred or ignorant vitriol.