Volume 10, Issue 10
This article is a response to comments underneath last week's De Minimis article, MLS’ “Diversity Problem: It’s Just Not Going Away.
I have canvassed response, after response, draft after draft, hoping to find some way to satisfy the ‘critics’. I thought that I needed to display my intellectual prowess, to wave the logicians wand, and dispel blow, by blow, the line of ‘reasoning,’ offered by the nameless and faceless challengers.
But so evident in the ‘reasoning’ of the ‘critics’ was an unwillingness to treat the subject of the article, in the same manner, and with the same standards and generosity, as has been given to other articles in De Minimis, that something else is going on. When I looked further into it I found an article recounting an incident of sexual assault at an MLS event printed last year. Tellingly, I did not see the perils of subjectivity, or the poverty of anecdote reprimanded there. I have concluded therefore, you do not warrant a response of the kind that you demand.
And so, after searching for tools to make sense of this experience, I found that this extract sums up our interactions well:
“When you removed the gag that was keeping these black mouths shut, what were you hoping for? That they would sing your praises? Did you think that when they raised themselves up again, you would read adoration in the eyes of these heads that our fathers had forced to bend down to the very ground? Here are black men standing, looking at us, and I hope that you-like me- will feel the shock of being seen. For three thousand years, the white man has enjoyed the privilege of seeing without being seen…The white man - white because he was man, white like daylight, white like truth, white like virtue- lighted up the creation like a torch and unveiled the secret white essence of beings. Today these black men are looking at us, and our gaze comes back to our own eyes; in their turn, black torches light up the world and our white heads are no more than Chinese lanterns swinging in the wind.” – Black Orpheus, Jean- Paul Sartre
And so, with your responses, you have demonstrated not only that the issues of racism persist in the fine corridors of Melbourne Law School, but have also provided a glimpse into the attitudes that Aboriginal people and certain ethnic communities confront within the legal system; perched as it is, on-top of the deep racist foundations of denial and dispossession.
I am reminded of this every semester, when I show up to the exam hall in the Royal Exhibition Building, the place where the beginnings of the White Australia Policy was first legislated. I am reminded of it when I see Pauline Hanson, relaxed, smiling in Parliament, and when the Minister for Women wraps her in a warm, gentle embrace; happy, together, in Australia.
See you in class.
Jasmine Ali is a second-year JD student
The rest of this week's issue: