Over on Larvatus Prodeo, various nay-sayers are arguing that the upswing in attacks on Indian students can’t have anything to do with structural racism in Australia, because none of the student visa laws that push overseas students into exploitative employment situations and allow deceptive “colleges” to fleece them while isolating them from Australian-born student bodies were intended to have a racialised separatist effect.
(Also, “racism” is a big important word that should be reserved for Nazi death camps, genocides and slavery, not for “just” a few bashings here and there or for the systemic economic exploitation of ethnic minorities.)
Racism is not just active behaviours that discriminate directly against people from a different ancestry than one’s own, it is also indifference to injustice against them by others – racism by neglect.
When middle-class European-descended parents decide to move away from a suburb newly experiencing an influx of non-European-descended immigrants, or to send their kids to private schools that those immigrant kids don’t go to, that “white flight” is one form of racism.
White flight also has further racialised consequences beyond merely bringing up yet another generation of European-descended Aussies who are not exposed to Australia’s modern racial diversity and who therefore inherit their parents’ anxieties around people who are Not Our Kind Of People, Dear. It also removes socio-economically advantaged kids from the local public schools, so that the immigrant kids don’t get to mix with them socially AND also don’t get the advantage of working with them and competing against them in the same classrooms, making it less likely that they will grow up to “fit in” with suburban Aussies and thus they will lose out on opportunities disproportionately offered to “typical” suburban Aussies. The European-descended parents probably have no intention of directly disadvantaging immigrant kids by removing their kids to a different school, but it happens no matter whether they intended it to or not. They just don’t care that it will happen.
Indifference to these consequences for the current generation of immigrant kids is just another form of racism by neglect, because it perpetuates and widens existing disparities but We’re All Right Jack.
Likewise, the indifference of your “typical” suburban Aussie to the exploitation of Indian students by dodgy educational institutes is what leads to those Indian students being essentially ghettoised, not mixing with Aussie students of their own age, therefore remaining obviously “different” and easily marked as Not One Of Us by the subset of aggressive bovverboots types out there looking for someone to give a kicking to. Maybe they don’t especially care that the people who look “different” are Indian rather than Chilean or Cambodian when they decide that they deserve a kicking (although it’s interesting that they are apparently not attacking immigrant Africans whose phenotype tends to be tall and muscular in the same suburbs at a comparable per capita rate – could our swaggering Aussie bigots be snivelling cowards?). What these thugs care about is whether these people are isolated and vulnerable, and Indian students are especially isolated and vulnerable in Australian cities because our government is happy to take the revenue from overseas students without ensuring that the educational facilities are up to the same standard as our Australian-born students receive.
Certainly the colleges that market themselves overseas have to have certificated teachers with appropriate qualifications. But is there any on-campus accommodation offered at all, to act as a social hub and source of continuity, solidarity and cultural mentoring for the students? Any institutional support for extracurricular groups? Hardly at all, leaving the students to shift for themselves. Lacking a substantial local expatriate community to tap into for assistance/fellowship (not that this should be the responsibility of such immigrant citizens anyway) Indian students find themselves especially isolated outside class hours compared to many overseas students from other Asian nations. Thus they become easy targets.
Systems that lead to one group of people becoming easier targets for exploitation and thuggery than others are systems of structural inequality, and when the group being marginalised by the system is racially distinct from the “typical” citizen, then that is a system that is structurally racist. QED.