MADELINE WARD thinks we should acknowledge our settler privilege
People of Colour (PoC) that live in Australia have settler privilege. There are hierarchies that exist within the solidarity term “PoC” that go deeper than this, but for the purposes of the point I would like to make in this article, my initial statement rings true: if you are not an Indigenous Australian person you are likely to have immense cultural, social and economic privileges. This is also true for those of us that experience other axis of oppression; neither your queer identity nor your womanhood negates your settler privilege. Thus, I take issue with the idea that your identity can save you from political criticism. You can’t escape being called out on conservatism because you’re ethnic. Similarly, you can’t use your identity to try and avoid being excluded from activist collectives because of your conservatism.
This hasn’t stopped right-wing PoC from arguing that they should be included in identity-based collectives like ACAR and QuAC; that these spaces should accept them despite their politics because the active word in identity politics is “identity.”
Because they focus -on the advancement of rights for oppressed minorities, leftism and activism in Australia should centre and listen to the needs, demands and voices of Indigenous Australians. SRC Identity Collectives that are created in this vein, and commit themselves to prioritising Indigenous people, are thus not obligated to admit those that hold views or support political parties with contrary objectives. Were they to accept the views of such people they would be pretty shit leftists. It makes no sense to admit someone into a collective on the basis of their PoC identity if their views actively contribute to the oppression of Indigenous people and less privileged PoC.
I’m not going to lie here, the queer collective isn’t all roses. It’s an overwhelmingly white space. A lot the white people that occupy it say some problematic shit. The concerns of PoC that relate to the legitimately racist things that occur within it are valid. What isn’t valid? Being upset at the exclusion of queers and queer people of colour on account of their conservative ideologies. Especially if your concerns as a QPoC do not involve or centre those of Indigenous People.
Of course, being a leftist isn’t a mandatory requirement of being queer or a person of colour. It should, however, be a requirement for participating in leftist activist spaces, and I would argue that if you hold or support views that contribute to societal oppression you should forfeit any right to a ‘safe space’ on account of sheer hypocrisy. As non Indigenous PoC we are living on stolen land. If we fail to acknowledge this in our work against white supremacy we will end up contributing to it.