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the deputy prime minister is a racist pig

the deputy prime minister is a racist pig
oh / i know her media people will be
all over this / talkin about defamation
& maybe even sedition / if they
cn make it stick / will call in some
corporate communications team
it might just have been a small thing
julia said / simply a matter of calling
in votes / & hell it wz probably
exactly what she wz advised to do
& by far the easiest outcome

bt the deputy prime minister is a racist pig
& believe me i have thought a lot
about this particular thing / this woman
watched while somebody sold us
down the river then came out & said
the water looked so inviting
& anyway nobody even got wet
the deputy prime minister
saw burning crosses
in our front yards / & said
appreciate the lights

her people are wearing white
hoods / & the deputy prime minister
is saying it is almost halloween
what the fuck is wrong with
you hysterical people

the deputy prime minister is a racist pig
next time she meets obama believe me
that man will be thinking get the fuck
away from me
oh rest assured he’ll smile
for the cameras & everything / bt
when he goes back home / michelle
will make him scrub before he
thinks about hugging their children

it might just have been a small thing
julia said / simply a matter of calling
in votes / & hell it wz probably
exactly what she wz advised to do
& by far the easiest thing
bt somebody spat on our history
& the deputy told us
to drink it

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

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Comments

  1. Umm… have I missed something of late, what exactly is she guilty off? I’m not aware. Now had this been written about the previous Govt. I’d understand. So what has she done?

  2. Umm… the previous ending was stronger. Still unsure what this is referring to, may have to do a little research.

  3. Maxine, I expressed my thoughts about Ms Gillard’s stance on the other thread – http://web.overland.org.au/?p=1801 . I don’t care if her advisers advised her to say what she said (and I strongly doubt they did): the responsibility for the words that came out of her mouth is her’s alone. And I don’t care that much about how it might make Obama feel either, to be honest. I care a lot more about what she is saying to people in this country. Perhaps we should at least give credit for her sense of tradition, playing a tiny role in reviving the (seemingly lapsed) ethos of a political party with a long history of racialism.

  4. Wow. Your poem is a seriously hysterical response to that skit. The skit itself was unfunny and tacky but not racist. I’d be interested to know if you’ve ever seen or laughed at Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’ characterisation which is effectively a ‘black face’ equivalent in regard to Kazakhstani people…or is that taking it all a little too far?…

  5. You and Gillard are the problem ‘Err.’ There have always been plenty of your kind to provide either silent assent or this blase ‘oh, get over it’ attitude. Without you, blatant racism and ingrained bigotry would not be the cause of the endless social turmoil that they are. Are we beyond questions of race in this country? Every year sees challenges we struggle with, and often fail. Just recently there were protests in the city regarding police bigotry. All those ‘hysterical’ people should just calm down I suppose. Gillard says, ‘we repudiate racism wherever we see it.’ Your example simply highlights that we don’t, especially if it’s a Muslim stereotype. Let me put this very simply for you: It is not for whites to judge how offensive white jokes are to those that are the target for them. Do you get that? If you’re not offended by that puerile excuse for comedy, revolted by that pathetic display of racist nostalgia, you should look at yourself and ask why you just don’t come out an declare yourself a racist apologist. Wait, I suppose you just did.

  6. Michael – You’re right. I raise Obama only to demonstrate that this his global implications on the way people view our leadership and our country. Would Julia Gillard feel okay looking him in the eye and saying ‘Hey, I’m okay with someone blacking up and mimicking you, Obama. You cool with that? Okay, now let’s talk foreign relations’

    Err…clearly you are not comfortable enough with your own racism to put a name to it. If you’re so okay with calling me hysterical, who not identify yourself. Or is there a part of you somewhere so deeply ashamed you have to hide under that hood? How do you spell Coward? Alec is exactly right. I am Australian. I have African ancestry. I am a performer as is my mother, as is my brother, as are many of my black friends. Not only I am deeply offended, but this directly impacts on us and our livelihood. End of. Whether or not the skit was offensive to white Australians (IE: you) is irrelevant.

    As for Borat, ask someone from Kazakhstan. Or do you claim to speak for everyone?

  7. Whoa. You guys are out of control. So now I AM a racist! I’m sure your piece was intended to be provocative, hyper drivel and you succeeded.
    Neither of you have addressed my question regarding Borat?

    There’s no clarity in either of your explanation regarding that question.
    So how come you weren’t protesting cinema’s against the film ‘Borat’ or is that just someone’s else argument. Racism should always be condemned and highlighted but I completely disagree that this it.

  8. Btw, Maxine by your way of thinking:

    Maxine says ‘As for Borat, ask someone from Kazakhstan. Or do you claim to speak for everyone?’

    So basically you’re saying, ‘Not my problem, don’t really care’. Does this mean you will only ever defend the rights of your own people? Hmm how ironic that this comment closely follows a similar thought process towards the vile human trait you so quick to apoint to others.

    I’m sure you write some good stuff but this poem was not thought through, it’s just hysterical rant, therefore a weak piece of writing with no substance.

  9. Alec Patric: ‘It is not for whites to judge how offensive white jokes are to those that are the target for them.’

    Ok, so why are you making ‘Your’ judgement then Alec?

  10. Just a thought: has anyone seen Tropic Thunder? Is Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of a black man racist in that film, considering he has his skin painted black? Are white people ever allowed to portray black people, and vice versa?

  11. Errr. I’ve deicded not to engage with anyone who won’t lift your hood. Once you’re happy put a name to your particular diseased brand of racist ranting, I will respond in full.

  12. Thoughts – I wanted to respond to you in a seperate comment, because you raise a very real question, and you do so rationally and without vemon. I hope you feel you can identify yourself in this forum in future. Whoopi Goldberg (was it The Associate?) and a few other black actors have portayed white characters. The situation is different. Parts for black actors are so minute that it just doesn’t make sense to give them to white actors. In addition, the historical origins and facets of blackface make the act so abhorrent to most people of African descent that there seems to me to be almost no justification. It is not simply the idea of pretending to be black, it is the historical context which led to ‘blackface’ which makes it so horrible. There may arise a situation I haven’t thought of which could sway me, but to me at present it’s like asking: is it ever okay to wear a swastika as a fashion item? By the time Olivier wore blackface three decades ago in Othello, the practice was widely seen to be offensive. Why did Angelina Jolie have to black up in A Mighty Heart (and perm her hair) to play a mixed race woman? Heaven knows Thandie Newton or any other black actress would have welcomed a decent leading lady part. This, from a ‘humanitarian’ with an adopted African child. The problem is so immense it’s frightening.

  13. Aha – at last someone from New Ltd cuts to the core of the issue: it turns out that the real fault with the blackface skit was African-Americans who, apallingly, choose to marry within their race rather than outside it: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/a-few-stones-from-us-sinners/story-e6frfhqf-1225785518962
    Additionally, Maxine, it seems you are hijacking this debate just because you’re black (heck, what would you know about racism?) – whereas close reading of the op-eds (and ‘Err’) makes clear that the real issue is whether or not we should apologise to Harry Connick Junior.

  14. Maxine that is a response from someone with no argument.

    Cheaps shots like labelling me a hooded ‘racist’ simply because I take you to task on the content and inspiration for your poem is never going to help
    eliminate racism – because you’re picking the wrong targets.

    They were men dressed up to represent the ‘Jackson 5′, it was tacky but they were not out demean the entire african race. That much is clear.

    Meanwhile…the world laughs along with Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’, the BNP is the UK continues to strengthen as does racist redneck hatred in US. Where’s the perspective?

  15. Well I certainly don’t intend to now that you’ve (once again misguidedly) decided that I must be racist.

    You’re the one doing the name calling here Maxine.

    I have nothing at all to be ashamed of. I simply raised a couple of valid questions which, if you’re prepared to stand by your word, you should be prepared to answer whether I remain anonymous or not.

    Anyway, I wish you well with your poetry.

  16. I’d have to say I am a bit divided in the discussion as it has played out so far, I would have to agree with Maxine’s outrage but I disagree with your response to ‘Err’. From what I could see there was no real answer to any of his questions nor was there a decent rebutal.

    Anyways, here is my own two bobs worth for your analysis. I see racism as a very real, very ugly and very frustrating issue. I am as white as they come but each and every day I am reminded that “everybody in the world hates the French”. My response is more often than not somewhat sarcastic and bitter, as I grew up being told to “go back to where I came from” when the fact of the matter is I was born and bred in Australia. In response to this the other party will often say something like “settle down mate it’s just a joke” which just makes things worst.

    My point is this; even if it is just meant to be funny, it does not take the sting out of it. I was not brought into this world to be the butt of your jokes simply because my parentage is different from yours.

  17. I agree Marc. I also think ‘Err’ is a splendid blog name, and though it may have been a bit of an afterthought in this case, it expresses my thoughts perfectly on a great many Important Geopolitical matters!

  18. It is simple, if your children (and let’s for argument’s sake, say you are white) grow up watching blackface on heyhey, cuddling golliwogs, and watching the censored 11 cartoons – and you see no problem with it – see it just as a harmless joke, then you really have no place whinging about them joining the National Front, because you made your children that way.n You allowed it to happen. Racists are not born, they are raised. And not only from overtly racist indoctrination, but through the gradual erosion of cultural respect and the constant defence of this erosion by people like Err. Why lament the terminal cancer, when you had the opportunity to operate on the tumour, and chose to ignore it?

  19. My take on this ugly little topic: it has revealed just where the line is drawn in Australia at the moment. I thought that it was understood that blackface minstrelsy was intrinsically revolting and so as a community we had decided it was one of the few no-go areas – along with such things as holocaust jokes. It turns out that not only do TV producers think it is fine to put something so patently offensive onto the screens, but a great many Australians (as represented by those who participated in online messageboards and super-scientific News Ltd polls) think it is no big deal. The line is so far back from where I thought (hope) it was, I find it utterly depressing.
    The disingenuous ‘they were dressing up as the Jacksons who are black’ line is too stupid for words; if they were dressing up as a Klezmer band should they wear hook noses and act like Shylocks? If they were dressing up as the Wiggles should the Jeff character run around pulling his eyes into a slanty squint? Even these examples, of course, overlook the specific, well-documented, carefully explained history of blackface in the US and elsewhere.
    The only thing I have heard that is more risible than this arguemtn is the Red Symonds (and others) the-blackface-buffoons-were-intelligent-and-educted-people-therefore-they-can’t-be-at-fault line. John Howard is well educated. Jim Saleam has a PhD. And Julia Gillard, bless her, is both intelligent and well-educated but unfortunately has shown zero moral leadership.
    Marc – I am sorry for the slurs that come your way, but I am guessing they are not directed towards you as you walk down the street or queue at the supermarket but only when you reveal your name. Far from ideal, certainly, but some people would think that you don’t have it too bad in terms of copping the pointy end of dumb prejudice.
    TimT – glad you like Err as a name. Personally I fall into the camp that believes you should put your name to something if you expect a serious answer.

  20. I’ll have to agree with you there Maxine even if by doing so I implicate myself as guilty. I must confess to turning a blind eye too many times and exacerbating my own situation through apathy.

  21. Yes, what you’re say is right Michael, I do have it easy. I was just using experience as an example for why race should not be turned into jest.
    It may not be the best example, but to be honest with you it is really all I know.

  22. TimT – glad you like Err as a name. Personally I fall into the camp that believes you should put your name to something if you expect a serious answer.

    I’ve chosen personally to identify myself as myself. It’s much easier and more honest. But I can understand why some – many – bloggers choose to adopt a consistent online pseudonym, and I have no problem with it.

  23. Timt – the problem is the context. There is a long history of (and yes, I made the analogy of the KKK) cloaked race agitators: people who like nothing better than to stir the pot, or and deny any problem exists even while they are exacerbating it, yet will not be held accountable. You will notice Err refused to acknowledge him/herself way before I pointed any kind of a finger.

  24. um, i tried to moderate some comments on this thread via my phone and accidentally sent them into the spam bin from which, it seems, they can’t be retrieved. So if you posted something and it hasn’t appeared, well, that’s the reason.

  25. How convenient Jeff. Quite a little click you have going on here.

    Maxine, for your information, I often chose not to use my real name when just passing through a forum, and I came across your hysterical poem via twitter.

    And if you read back through the posts (provided Jeff doesn’t delete mine?!), you decided I was a ‘hooded racist’ simply because I chose to remain anonymous and questioned the reasoning of your poem.

  26. So…are you Hanson, Howard or Gillard? Or more to the point are you the person who teaches my child, my mother’s colleague, my brother’s girlfriend, my sister’s boss? Cz that would make this whole thing REALLY freaky.

  27. Err, it is inherently racist to call a black woman ‘hysterical’ when she calls out racism. Furthermore, defending racism, as yourself and Gillard have done, is itself an act of racism.

  28. Clickety clique. I hadn’t posted on this forum prior to about a week ago, I don’t klnow any of the other posters in this thread, and I think this is the only topic I have commented on apart from a poorly-articulated defence of Raymond Carver.
    Still, Err, I find it’s useful to bear in mind: just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  29. Michael, your defence of Carver was articulate, and appreciated, (though I’m surprised more people didn’t join you in that regard). Your comments on this post have been particularly brilliant.

    You know what I think is hysterical ‘Err?’ 9 comments on a poem you have repeatedly called hysterical. And not an argument to be seen, (comparisons to another racist film or Humphrey the Bear not withstanding). Yet you demand Maxine explain herself. Why is it racist you ask? You don’t really listen to the answers but you keep asking questions. You’ve hit this post 9 times, saying the same thing. Hysterical?

    But beyond all this I think it’s offensive to continue to pursue Maxine for reasons and explanations as to why she feels offended by seeing grown white men go on national T.V. with black-painted faces, dancing around in ridicule. Why would you need to ask anyone to explain to you why that is offensive?

    For the record, the poem itself, which should be the point to all these comments, (since Maxine didn’t write an essay looking at Hey Hey or Gillard), is a worthy piece of work in itself. So let’s talk about that.
    The poem looks at the ways in which snapshot moments of the present are magnified by the past, and how no matter what kind of honour we do men like Obama, we must still swallow these pathetic racial insults. That we’re urged to do so by the leaders of our nation is what swells a small annoyance into outrage.
    So, good poem Maxine. It’s a shame it has been overshadowed by the ‘Borat’ defence.

  30. Maxine, your poem is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. As always.. you are so brave, articulate and AMAZING! U’ve articulated and highlighted issues that needs constant vigilant engaging, talking, critiquing and discussing.

    this fear of Rudd and Gillard to admit to racism in Australia shows they fear losing their power so much that they’d sacrifice their integrity and intellect.

    Waleed Aly in The Monthly (http://www.themonthly.com.au/nation-reviewed-waleed-aly-comment-racism-australian-style-1858) writes:
    “For much of the world media, Australia seems only to warrant attention to the extent that it can be presented through the prism of racism. ”

    His article a comment on racism in Australia, explores the attacks on the Indian community. According to Aly, Rudd had “dismissed the violence as ‘just a regrettable fact of urban life’, his commentary reminiscent of John Howard’s response to the Cronulla riots, in which the former prime minister went to great rhetorical lengths to reassure us there was no underlying racism in Australia.”

    Rudd took MONTHS to condemn the violence experienced by the Indian community.

    In times of upheaval amongst the minorities, how shall the bureaucrats respond? Why, a walk of course. And let’s not forget the “MULTICULTURAL” part. A “Harmony Day” walk organised by the Premier in support of the Indian students and community, did not provide space for representatives from the Federation of Indian students, or any person of the community to speak. Humbug. (http://www.fisa.org.au/content/libs-join-brumby%E2%80%99s-harmony-rally-fisa-feels-gagged)

    i was shocked and appalled when i read about the Hey Hey Its Saturday blackface skit. I was relieved that Harry Connick Jnr had the brains and guts to condemn it live on air, forcing an apology from Somers. Crikey interviewed Kamahl re: the Hey Hey Its Saturday blackface skit. Kamahl was used for a laugh in that skit. For a link to this fantastic interview :

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/10/09/qa-with-kamahl-why-is-hey-hey-so-unkind/

  31. Raina: ‘it is inherently racist to call a black woman ‘hysterical’ when she calls out racism.’

    WTF?! So because of the colour of someone is black they can never be challenged on a racial matter?

    This kind of the thinking is edging toward fanaticism, kind of like pro-lifers who shoot people.

  32. Raina: ‘it is inherently racist to call a black woman ‘hysterical’ when she calls out racism.’

    WTF?! So because someone is black they can never be challenged on a racial matter?

    This kind of the thinking is edging toward fanaticism, kind of like pro-lifers who shoot people.

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