The artist for the above image is @Kayas_Kosmos.
Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one: people [men] learn as they teach.Seneca
White Supremacy Brainwashing in New Zealand
I will never stop writing on this issue, or working to understand it how it seems to shapeshift and change to uphold itself. Every day I benefit from it, even though that is not what I want. I want equity, but I still am not immune from the culture I grew up in, and I will always be tainted by my upbringing and education – although my life was hard, it was never made hard by my ethnic heritage. I am about as white as you can get.
I will talk about this from a pākehā (non-Māori) perspective. I have done a lot of reading. I am bound to get things wrong, or to miss something – that’s ok also – no white person can ever truly understand or empathise because we simply have no frame of reference. I will always spend my time so that I can know more.
White Supremacy (Colonialism) is a Form of Brainwashing
When we learn about Māoritanga (Māori culture), we begin to understand how much we tried to deny and brainwash Māori people and ourselves as pākehā out of understanding and encouraging knowledge of this amazing culture. One that feels more coherent to me personally than the culture I was raised in – one where every person is worthwhile.
I want to talk about how brainwashing works, and how you can see it everyday in the way we continue to stop equity measures, and how we need to accept that we’ve been brainwashed in order to begin actually deprogramming ourselves out of being a member of the cult of colonialism.
A definition of brainwashing
The techniques of brainwashing
I’ll expand on this further but I’ll just dive into how brainwashing is achieved:
The application of brainwashing in New Zealand
As soon as European settlers arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand). We have slowly but surely moved to brainwash everyone who lives here, Māori and pākehā alike. White people wrote the textbooks we teach – white people still overwhelmingly listen to white views on Māori issues – or favour those Māori who seem to align to our views – the “good” Māori – the ones who coddle us to make us feel secure rather than facing the true nature of our violence.
We’ve actively deceived Māori people every step of the way. We’ve denied Māori speaking te reo Māori. We have stolen land. We still truly deny to honor our commitments to Ti Tiriti o Waitangi – the agreement the Crown made with Māori people to allow them to retain sovereignty. Using our laws to dictate their own, even when we’ve tried to correct this – we’ve used pākehā interpretations and spoken over Māori people constantly.
Māori are expected to speak English – there are schools that teach using te reo, but they are considered fringe schools. There is no expectation of pākehā to return this favour – although steps are being suggested to correct this. Yet we are supposed to be equal partners according to Ti Tiriti o Waitangi.
I am not going to deny I’ve been explicitly racist in the past about Māori people. I grew up immersed in a culture that thought it was acceptable to denigrate Māori people and other ethnicities – adults in my life were some of my worst role models. I went to schools where I had racism explicitly explained to me by teachers.
It was 26 years before I got to hear the other side of colonisation – I am lucky in that I can challenge bias more readily as an Autistic person. When I learned about te ao Māori from a Māori person for the first time ever in my education – which is a common occurrence – I felt anger, sadness, and shame for how I had been made to perceive Māori. There are plans now to address this in the education system, which are already being met with resistance.
I looked back at my life and realised that I’ve seen racism in hospitals, at the WINZ office, in casual conversation – and I still see it today. I haven’t always called it out either because I am reliant on the support systems where it’s occurring – but I should because Māori people don’t have a choice. We live in a racist culture – and there is research to prove this. Every day we are actively racist to Māori people (and anyone who is not white). It’s not a secret either.
I know white people discuss it privately – I’ve been privy to these conversations my whole life. I don’t stand for it anymore, and I have less “friends” for it, but I don’t need friends who don’t accept reality or even try to perceive it – I can only hope to educate those who wish to truly learn, I won’t stop trying for the others, but maybe consensus of opinion will change their minds.
If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in their [his] self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.Marcus Aurelius
I got stuck feeling shame for a long time – that doesn’t actually help. White guilt is almost worse as it centres us as victims and is just white fragility over even acknowledging the problem. We need to do more – we need to actively fight and educate other people to realise how badly we’ve ALL been deceived and how through this denial we’ve come to accept an unearned benefit of false superiority – even if we never wanted that.
The New Zealand Herald – one of our leading newspapers – still frequently posts racist views, almost all media does. The NZ Herald is unique in that it was explicitly setup to be a racist organisation and the roots of that organisation have never changed. To deny we are a racist nation is to take part in an act of collective brainwashing about objective reality.
Every time we try and get a slight initiative to correct for equity, it’s either denied, or met with a sea of negative ill-informed (generally old white man) racism – from a person who’s never taken a single second in their life to even try to consider the alternative view – these people are wilfully ignorant – and yet they are still given a platform – because whiteness upholds itself.
I still have racist family members… maybe they will read this. Maybe they will try and see that they’ve been brainwashed too. I’ve spent a lot of time kowtowing to their ignorance. But now I know I am Autistic, I truly don’t care what they think, and I’ve started raising these issues with them – I am learning how to communicate in way that disarms their false sense of rejection sensitivity through just even being called white.
Together we can reject the shame, and take the accountability – fight to give land back, abolish the police, prisons, Oranga Tamariki (which is responsible for a genocide of Māori children), start fighting for equity, to make reparations for intergenerational theft – give our resources to helping Māori people and actually become the pillar of justice that “New Zealand” tries to present itself as from the outside in the international community.
We can actually move toward having the privilege of being called Aotearoa – because we will have made it the place Māori and pākehā alike deserve to have – one that is a true partnership, where we celebrate and encourage our differences. One that allows for true peace because without this justice, there can never be peace.
How do we get started?
Listen to Māori people, let them lead this initiative, and give them the power to do so. Accept that they are not trying to deceive or profit (although profit should be fine – there’s generations of theft to make up for), but to get back what is rightfully theirs, and to acknowledge that we as pākehā are still actively participating in the denial of rights. It doesn’t matter if you’ve settled here recently – you are still benefiting from a system that excludes Māori.
We can deprogram our brainwashing – we can fight back against the cult of white supremacist colonialism we’re currently a part of – it’s easier to do when more people are actively aware.
Here’s a great reading list to start understanding the beauty of te ao Māori, and the ways in which we’ve been deceived into thinking that we are somehow right in the way we are living now:
The other important way for me to truly learn was to read Māori fiction about their experiences of growing up – non-fiction writing about experiencing racism is not effective for me. Fiction can provide a look into a world I am more readily able to accept – because I seem to prime empathy and acceptance far more readily in this format.
Someday this phrase might be used correctly – and not just as tokenism:
He waka eke noaWe are all in this together
Daily blog challenge
I will be writing every day on being Autistic for April using this list of prompts:
Alt-Text Format with links to other blogs – Autistic Acceptance Month – 30 Days of Acceptance and appreciation:
- Day 1 – Introduction
- Day 2 – What I love about being Autistic is…
- Day 3 – My diagnosis/discovery story
- Day 4 – Reactions to “coming out
- Day 5 – Special Interests
- Day 6 – Supports and Appreciation
- Day 7 – The Autistic Community
- Day 8 – Favorite Autistic Blog
- Day 9 – Favourite Autistic-owned Business
- Day 10 – Sensory Life
- Day 11 – Stims
- Day 12 – Favorite Autism-charity
- Day 13 – Family
- Day 14 – Routine
- Day 15 – Everyone should know…
- Day 16 – Work/School
- Day 17 – Accommodations
- Day 18 – Someday…
- Day 19 – I hate it when…
- Day 20 – Communication
- Day 21 – One thing other people don’t understand
- Day 22 – Dispel a myth
- Day 23 – Can’t live without…
- Day 24 – Political Issue
- Day 25 – Symbols!
- Day 26 – Favorite Autism book
- Day 27 – Identity Language
- Day 28 – Dealing with meltdowns
- Day 29 – Famous Autistics
- Day 30 – Acceptance means…