21 March 2019

Osmond Chiu calls for Harmony Day to be dropped — it was introduced by the Howard Government to replace Australia’s observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: “Undoubtedly people feel an attachment to Harmony Day as a celebration of cultural diversity that schools, workplaces and community groups can participate in. It is a day that people have a positive association and feel very comfortable with. But it does us no favours by avoiding any hard conversations about racism. As educator Robin DiAngelo has pointed out, niceness is not anti-racism. A parallel would be celebrating International Women’s Day without mentioning ongoing under-representation, sexism or the gender pay gap.” Compare the themes for 2019: Harmony Day’s is the insipid “everyone belongs”, while IDERD’s is “mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies”. We need to rise to that challenge.