Australians Say #NotMyAustralia to Racist 'African Gang' Story
Australians unite against fearmongering with an amazing hashtag.
The Australian community has rallied together to voice its disapproval over a story published by Seven Network’s Sunday Night program, which insisted “African gangs were running riot, terrorizing, and wreaking havoc.”
TOMORROW 8.20 @sundaynighton7 | Barely a week goes by when they’re not in the news. African gangs running riot, terrorising, wreaking havoc. Police are hesitant to admit there’s even a problem. The latest attack was just days ago, so what can be done? #SN7pic.twitter.com/hYzxka9MEV— Channel 7 (@Channel7) July 7, 2018
The story focused on an interview with Elaine French, who claimed her life was devastated after the Melbourne jewellery store where she worked was robbed by "armed African criminals" in both October 2016 and January 2017.
French told reporter Alex Cullen she could no longer go shopping due to the fear of running into “coloured people” and that she hoped the robbers would "be deported to where they came from”.
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The story received instant criticism online, with many calling for a total boycott of Network Seven.
The #NotMyAustralia hashtag was coined by prominent South Sudanese-Australian leader and lawyer Maker Mayek in response to the program.
In 5 minutes EST, @Channel7 will be broadcasting a bogus story about “African gangs”. Africans love this country as much as any other Australian and have no interest to harm others.Please tell a friend to tell a friend or a relative to boycott this story tonight #NotMyAustralia— Maker Mayek (@MakMayek) July 8, 2018
The #NotMyAustralia motion took off on Twitter, with thousands of Australians reposting the movement. Four days after the show aired, the hashtag had reached 306,913 Twitter accounts.
As an African Australian that represented this country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, I have nothing but love for this Country. It is reckless to make broad generalisations about any group of people. This is our Australia @MakMayek#NotMyAustraliapic.twitter.com/tndwpyamQU— Joseph Deng (@j0sephdeng) July 9, 2018
Time to light up Twitter people!— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) July 8, 2018
Twitter under #NotmyAustralia and let people know:
No to racism @Channel7
No to vilifying young men of colour
No to fearmongering and hate speech
One love & people ❤️💪🏼
The promotion of this smacks of fear-mongering and racial hysteria. Disappointing to see this kind of approach — it’s a recipe for division and racial profiling https://t.co/01qrs6p4RU— Tim Soutphommasane (@timsout) July 7, 2018
As a Sudanese-Born, Proud Australian Olympian, my belief are simple. I think generalisations are false and dangerous and it’s sad to see this is the issue of focus. This is our Australia. Let's educate. Let's work together. @MakMayek#NotMyAustraliapic.twitter.com/V4Xp8mmsrV— Peter Bol (@pbol800) July 9, 2018
Channel 7 have chosen to once more parrot the narrative of an African Gang Crime crises in Victoria. This is based on little to no evidence and Victoria Police have actively refuted the seriousness of the narrative. This is plainly racism and this is absolutely #NotMyAustralia— Kevin Turner (@KilkennyGames) July 8, 2018
This online conversation follows in the footsteps of various other cases of Australian digital activism.
As a result of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating Victoria was dealing with widespread gang violence, many members of the African-Australian community posted images of themselves doing good deeds within the community with the sarcastic hashtag #AfricanGangs.
My squad we support each and help each other achieve our dreams and aspirations.. We stay true to our culture and heritage, we Graduate, help the economy strive, help the community grow and produce queens and kings to continue the legacy #AfricanGangspic.twitter.com/Ih9B8AnVSz— Agum (@AgumAguilAchol) January 8, 2018
Similarly, following Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's comments that claimed Victorians were afraid to go out at night, members of the community took to social media with images of themselves at restaurants with the hashtag #MelbourneBitesBack.
According to psychologist Azadeh Aalai, while these hashtags attempt to force change by placing direct pressure on leaders, they primarily work to shift societal views by giving individuals the opportunity to collaborate without the involvement of governments or non government organisations.
“The hashtag movement is an important demonstration of the power digital activism can have in raising visibility and awareness around issues that may be neglected by traditional or elite media,” she stated. “This will become a first step in introducing potential activists to like-minded peers, connect and organize events, learn more about issues, and begin the often long and arduous process of social activism."
Will #NotMyAustralia prompt real change? It’s hard to tell. But for now, people have found an outlet and a movement that allows them to show solidarity whilst directly calling out racialised media coverage.
The average Australian is calling for sympathy, compassion, and togetherness — and that's certainly a very good place to start.
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