TIME Australia

This Is Why Australia Has ‘National Sorry Day’

Sorry Day In Australia
Newspix—Newspix via Getty Images Rhonda Randall and Sharon Mumbler stand proud with their "Sorry" scarf as Kevin Rudd's Broadcast apology to Aboriginal Peoples of Australia at Penrith Council on February 13, 2008 in Penrith, Australia.

Generations of Aboriginal children were wronged by misguided social engineering policies

In 1998, a coalition of Australian community groups declared May 26 “National Sorry Day”: an annual day of atonement for the social-engineering policy that ripped an estimated 50,000 children from their Aboriginal families between 1910 and the 1970s. But it took Australia’s government another decade to utter an official apology.

By some accounts, the policy of removing mostly mixed-race children from their Aboriginal tribes was well-intentioned. Officials and missionaries, arguing that the children would have more advantages in mainstream Australian society, took them to be raised in orphanages, boarding schools or white homes, according to a 2008 TIME story about the eventual apology. Other justifications smacked of eugenics, as with the argument by A. O. Neville, Australia’s Commissioner for Native Affairs in the 1930s, that people of Aboriginal descent could only be assimilated by “breeding out the color.”

The policy created six decades’ worth of what Australians call the “stolen generations,” children who lost their cultural and familial identities, and many of whom never saw their relatives again.

But Australian politicians were slow to embrace “National Sorry Day,” which has since been renamed “National Day of Healing.” In 1999, conservative Prime Minster John Howard expressed “deep and sincere regret that indigenous Australians suffered injustices under the practices of past generations,” but stopped short of apologizing. His administration argued, as TIME reported, that “it was not responsible for the actions of past governments and that admissions of wrongdoing could open the door to compensation suits.”

It took a new party and a new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to say sorry. Rudd made the apology his government’s first parliamentary act, just after his 2008 swearing-in. He vowed “to remove a great stain from the nation’s soul, and in a true spirit of reconciliation to open a new chapter in the history of this great land, Australia.”

Although Rudd ruled out the possibility of compensating those affected by the policy, he committed $4.5 billion to a project meant to break down barriers to healthcare, education and employment among indigenous people, the New York Times said.

That doesn’t mean that this complicated area of Australia’s history is necessarily a thing of the past. In recent years, protesters have argued that Aboriginal children are still being routinely removed from their families, only now under the auspices of child welfare, according to The Guardian.

Aboriginal grandmothers who survived the first wave of stolen generations told The Guardian, “We live in a state of fear again.”

Read more about Australia’s apology, here in the TIME archives: Resurrection Day

TIME Race

Topless Women Stage #SayHerName Rally Against Perceived Police Brutality

Campaigners want to raise awareness of the deaths of black women and girls at the hands of police

A group of black women staged a topless protest Thursday, blocking traffic in downtown San Francisco to draw attention to the killing of black women and children by police.

The demonstration was part of a nationwide day of action to protest the deaths of Aiyana Jones, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd and other women and girls killed by law-enforcement officers, reports USA Today.

The rally followed the release of a report Wednesday by the African American Policy Forum named Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, which highlights the stories of black women who have suffered from alleged police brutality.

Protesters held signs with the hashtag #SayHerName and posters with the names and pictures of black women who have died.

“We also understand that we live in a country that commodifies black women and black bodies but ignores the death of black women and black girls,” said Chinyere Tutashinda, founding member of the BlackOut Collective and a member of the Bay Area chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Campaigners said rallies raising awareness of police brutality in the wake of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others had focused on black men who had died, and overlooked the many black women who have suffered the same fate.

Protests and vigils took place in cities across the country including New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, two months after an officer was acquitted for the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Boyd.

[USA Today]

TIME Race

The Problem With White-on-White Crime

When we look at things in black and white, we are forced to see reality

As I was walking through the airport preparing to board a flight home, I was drawn to a big-screen television, around which a sizable crowd had assembled. With the NBA playoffs in full affect, I assumed it had to be one of the games so I stopped to check the score. What I saw instead was live coverage of a breaking news story out of Waco, Texas, about a bikers’ shootout that had left nine people dead.

Almost immediately, I had a hard time matching the pictures I was seeing with the chyron I was reading across the bottom of the screen.

9 DEAD. 18 INJURED. CHAINS. KNIVES, CLUBS, FIREARMS. read the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

Yet while I saw yellow police tape, I didn’t see scores of motorcyclists in handcuffs. In fact, I saw them standing around, sitting on the grass, drinking from water bottles, talking to each other, conversing with cops.

In the hours to come, I noted that newscasters and pundits were referring to these cyclists as “motorcycle club members” not “thugs.” They had in no way been brutalized by the cops. The National Guard had not been called in — no tear gas, no pepper spray. None of that, even though the crawl was now telling me that this was the worst violence in Texas since the Branch Davidian siege back in 1993.

When it’s white-on-white crime, white people tend to get the benefit of the doubt. When white cops police black people, there’s precious little benefit but plenty doubt.

I got home late Sunday night, woke up Monday morning, and the news was still referring to the melee as some variation on Motorcycle Clubs Clash in Texas City.

Really?

It took 2 days since my pause in front of that airport television to see the G-word anywhere: gangs.

170 gang members have now been arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime linked to capital murder, with perhaps more to come. But why the law enforcement, mainstream media and societal deference in the first place?

I know why, and you know why, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it.

RACE.

Yes, here we go again. Sadly, we keep missing these moments, overlooking these opportunities to get our house in order.

I can hear the deafening sound of readers asking, “Why do we have to make everything about race? Must we see everything in black and white?”

No, we do not. But with our unconscious biases, we tend to.

Do we really think if this were a fatal clash involving black “club members,” say Bloods and Crips, where nine people were killed and eighteen were injured in a shootout with cops, that this story would be covered in the same way? In two words: Puh. Leeze.

That said, I actually think there is significant value in viewing the American experience in black and white. When we dare to witness the world in black and white, we can see it in a more honest and straightforward way — think of a photograph. We can see the grittiness, the dark side of life in America that too many fellow citizens endure daily. We can see the subtle differences and variances that make life less fair for certain communities. We can simplify the struggle and focus on what’s important in the lives of everyday people. We can see the shapes and the lines, the boxes in which we put too many American citizens.

When we look at our country in black and white, we are forced to pause, to look closely at our reality. We strip America down to its bare essentials and we see who we really are, how well our image holds up to the ideals we profess.

So, must we see everything in black and white? Why shouldn’t we?

Smiley is host and managing editor of Tavis Smiley on PBS and author of My Journey With Maya

TIME Research

Suicide Rate Is Up Among Young Black Children

New study reveals racial disparities in suicide rates among young children

While the suicide rate among young children has remained relatively stable, a new study shows that the number of black kids between the ages of 5 and 11 who commit suicide has almost doubled since 1993.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, shows that from 1993 to 2012, there were a total of 657 kids in the age group who killed themselves in the U.S.; 84% were boys and 16% were girls. Overall, the suicide rate was stable over the nearly 20-year period, yet the rate among black children significantly rose while the rate among white children dropped. Why black children were more likely to die by their own hand could not be determined in this study. The researchers say that the apparent racial disparity needs further investigation.

Study author Jeffrey Bridge, an epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told the New York Times that he was “shocked” by the results.

The findings are troubling, and the authors note in the study that historically, the rates of suicide among black children has been lower than the rate among white children. Suicide previously ranked as the 14th cause of death among black children ages 5 to 11 from 1993 to 1997, but it went up to the ninth cause of death in 2008 to 2012. For comparison, among white children, suicide was ranked as the 12th cause of death for the age group from 1993 to 1997 but it dropped to the 11th cause of death from 2008 to 2012.

“Although rates of suicide in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years are roughly 50 times higher than suicide rates in children aged 5 to 11 years, investment in upstream suicide prevention approaches that occur prior to the onset of suicidal behavior may have strong potential to reduce youth suicide rates,” the study authors write.

The researchers call for more studies to understand the trend, and to hopefully determine what interventions might be necessary.

TIME Race

Duke Professor on Leave After Posting Racially-Charged Comments

A general view of the Duke University Chapel on campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Lance King—Getty Images A general view of the Duke University Chapel on campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

He posted a long comment on a New York Times editorial about the riots in Baltimore

A Duke University professor is on leave after posting comments online that many readers found to be racist.

Jerry Hough posted a long comment on a New York Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore,” saying that “the Asians” were discriminated against just as much as “the blacks,” but that Asians “worked doubly hard” while African Americans just “feel sorry for themselves.”

He continues, “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”

“The comments were noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse,” Duke University said in a statement reported by ABC.Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case.”

Hough has since been placed on leave, according to multiple reports.

Hough told the News & Observer that his comments were misunderstood.

“Anyone who says anything is as racist and ignorant as I was called by a colleague,” he said. “The question is whether you want to get involved in the harassment and few do. I am 80 and figure I can speak the truth as I see it. Ignorant I am not.”

TIME Race

The Forgotten Girls Who Left the South and Changed History

African American Migrants
Chicago History Museum / Getty Images African American men, women, and children who participated in the Great Migration to the north, in Chicago, 1918.

The girls of the Great Migration shaped regions, cities and even the White House

A “Northern Invasion” was coming, the Chicago Defender declared in early 1917: that spring, specifically May 15, would begin the Great Northern Drive. Southern blacks would abandon Jim Crow’s regime and seek their economic and social freedoms in the North. And Chicago was waiting for them. The Defender, which was founded 110 years ago this month, was the most influential African American newspaper of the 20th century, not least because its entrepreneurial founder and editor, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, used it as a catalyst for the Great Migration, a movement that would change the color and composition of American cities.

Some of the littlest members of this invasion were girls and teenage women, whose stories have yet to be fully told. Reaching across a century, their tale draws a direct line from the desperate denizens of the Jim Crow South to the striving residents of Northern cities—and all the way to the White House.

Luckily, their stories have been preserved, and in their own words. In response to Abbott’s call, thousands of letters poured into the Defender’s South Side Chicago office. Would-be migrants sought employment connections, train tickets, and any form of confirmation that ‘up North’ would be everything Abbott promised and more. Among these dream-seekers who put pen to paper to plan their great escapes were scores of girls and teenage women. These letters, printed in the pages of the Defender, and other reflections from African American girls who settled on Chicago’s South Side, fueled my scholarly search to understand how girls experienced, shaped and understood the mass exodus that roughly spanned 1917 to 1970, during which an estimated 7 million blacks settled in urban corridors.

Girls’ letters to Abbott spoke volumes of the struggles of everyday life. Girls revealed the poignancy of being a child while confronting the very adult economic pressures families endured. Girls labored as sharecroppers, domestics and low-wage workers in the post-Reconstruction South, and they hoped Chicago could provide better paying jobs. Older teenage girls shouldered the responsibility of supporting families at the expense of their education. Girls also hoped that they could use the beauty products or attend the dance venues that the Defender advertised. They wanted to remake themselves into city girls—modern, stylish and in control of their futures.

Ten days before Abbot’s Northern Migration Day, a girl from Port Arthur, Tex., asked him for money for transportation and ultimately a pathway to transform her life.

“Dear Sir: I am a reader of the Chicago Defender I think it is one of the Most Wonderful Papers of our race printed. Sirs I am writeing to see if You all will please get me a job. And Sir I can wash dishes, wash iron nursing work in groceries and dry good stores. Just any of these I can do. Sir, who so ever you get the job from please tell them to send me a ticket and I will pay them. When I get their as I have not got enough money to pay my way. I am a girl of 17 years old and in the 8 grade at Knox Academy School. But on account of not having money enough I had to stop school. Sir I will thank you all with all my heart. May God Bless you all.”

That same summer, in August, a 15-year old girl from New Orleans pleaded with Abbott:

“Dear sir: i am wrighting you for help I haird of you by telling my troble I was to to right you. I wont to come ther and work I have ben looking for work here for three month…i am 15teen…if you will sin me a pass you will not be sorry I am not no lazy girl i am smart I have got very much learning but I can do any work that come to my hand.”

Some girls sought advice about migration without their parents’ consent, believing that they knew what was best for their families. A teenager from Alexandria, La., risked angering her father by seeking advice about Chicago.

“There isnt a thing for me to do, the wages here is from a dollar and a half a week. What could I earn Nothing…I have and a mother and a father my father do all he can for me but it is so hard. A child with any respect about her self or his self wouldn’t like to see there mother and father work so hard and earn nothing I feel it my duty to help…father seem to care and then again don’t seem to but Mother and I am tired tired of all of this. I wrote to you all because I believe you will help.”

Mothers also wrote to Abbott hoping to create better opportunities for their daughters, many of whom began working as domestics in white households before they had their tenth birthdays and rarely attended their one-room schoolhouse during the cotton harvest season.

One mother wrote:

“Gentlemen: I want to get in tuch with you in regard of good location & a job i am for race elevation every way. I want a job in a small town some where in north where I can receive verry good wages and where I can educate my 3 little girls and demand respect of intelegence.”

It’s hard to track what happened to those specific writers, but few, if any, may have imagined that their journey would lead to the monumental demographic shifts that globalized black culture and would yield a black First Lady, the granddaughter of a migrant, who proudly called herself a “South Side Girl” while campaigning for her husband.

Nearly a century after the initial call for blacks to seek their destiny in the industrial centers of the nation, the Great Migration’s complicated legacy continues to shape dialogue about race relations and the broad scope of topics now called ‘urban,’ from housing to employment to education. As producer Shonda Rhimes prepares to bring Isabel Wilkerson’s Great Migration story The Warmth of Other Suns to television audiences and as art lovers flock to New York’s Museum of Modern Art to catch the rare display of all of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series paintings together, we have to remember that we have much more to learn, see and hear from the Great Migration. Girls’ stories, especially their letters, make real the urgency and the hope of the domestic migration that changed the world.

The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

Marcia Chatelain is Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Her first book South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration was released by Duke University Press in 2015.

TIME Behind the Photos

Southern Rites: The Heartbreaking Story of Justin Patterson’s Death

In HBO's Southern Rites, photographer Gillian Laub goes to Mount Vernon, Ga., a racially divided town

When Gillian Laub started photographing the racially divided town of Mount Vernon, Ga. — with its segregated homecomings and proms — she stumbled onto the story of Justin Patterson, a 22-year-old black man who was killed, on Jan. 29, 2011, by Norman Neesmith, a 62-year-old white man.

Patterson’s story, which further divided Mount Vernon, is the subject of Southern Rites, a HBO documentary premiering on May 18.

Dedee Clarke, Justin’s mother, spoke to TIME.

Gillian LaubSha’von, Justin and Santa, 2012

“When I got the call, it was around 3.45 in the morning and my youngest son, Sha’von, said that Justin had been shot and he was dead… For a long time, Sha’von wouldn’t talk about it, he would only tell me things in bits and pieces. It wasn’t until 2013 that he told me the whole story. I think that the thing that bothered him the most was that the gun was actually aimed at him. Justin looked back, saw that and pushed Sha’von out of the way and took the shot himself. It’s something I don’t think he’ll really recover from. He just has to learn to live with it. It’s a day-by-day process, but I don’t think anybody can ever be the same.

The first time I met Gillian was in 2010. My youngest son, Sha’von, was attending the prom that year, and she was photographing it. I thought the work she was doing was great. But I didn’t know that much about her, I just knew that the pictures that she was taking were important. I didn’t get to know her on a deeper level until my son, Justin, died.

[When Gillian shifted her focus to what had happened to Justin], I was, at first, a little reluctant. But I could just see her passion and drive as she talked to me and I knew at that point that she really cared. I was more relaxed around her and I began to open up. But I just remember saying that it wasn’t going to be pretty sight because I was just not in the right state of mind, and she understood that.

You have to feel some kind of compassion when you do this. And Gillian had that; she felt it. And because she felt it, I believed that shows in her work.

Of course, it was very difficult to see Norman Neesmith in Gillian’s film. I had always made it a point not to really look directly at him. And to see him up close and personal in the film, it was very hard. It was hard to watch some of the things that he said. It’s just hard to hear that he never really acknowledged that his daughter invited them into his home. I felt that he thought he was a victim. I don’t think he understands that Justin had a life. He had a daughter. And she will never have her father.

Gillian’s work makes me feel that my son’s death was not in vain. That’s the one thing that I can hope for. I’m hoping that it will help someone. It’s too late for my son, but maybe it can help somebody else.

I’m hoping it will help other mothers to see that you can still survive that kind of pain and. I’m a survivor because God says I am. Everything that I believe in is because of God. He’s the reason that I’m here because there’s no way I could have done any of this by myself. I felt like nobody really cared because the story wasn’t out. It was a while before it was even in a paper. To see it now and to know that people really care, it does make me feel supported. It definitely does. I’m thinking that everyone will have an idea of what happened. This is real life. These people are real people; they feel that pain continuously every day.

My goal here is for people to know and understand that there’s still, very much so, a lot of injustice in this world and something has to be done about it.”

Southern Rites by Gillian Laub premieres on HBO on May 18. A book, published by Damiani, will be released in June.

TIME Innovation

How the Navy is Taking the Lead on Maternity Leave

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Here’s how the U.S. Navy is leading the way on maternity leave.

By Alexander LaCasse in the Christian Science Monitor

2. What if growing up “color-blind” means white millennials don’t see racial injustice either?

By Mychal Denzel Smith in the PBS Newshour

3. Jailhouse informants are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. It’s time for them to go.

By Jordan Smith in the Intercept

4. Spend two minutes per hour walking — just walking — to cut your risk of dying by one third.

By Christopher Wanjek and LiveScience at Scientific American

5. Fruit and vegetables worth billions are left to rot because they’re ugly. Now we can eat them at a discount.

By Lorena Galliot in Grist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Georgia Principal Fired for Racial Outburst

"Look who’s leaving — all the black people"

The Georgia principal who made a racially insensitive comment during a graduation speech has been fired.

Nancy Guordeuk, founder and director of TNT Academy, has been dismissed, NBC affiliate WXIA reports. Gourdeuk sparked outrage when footage of her racially charged outburst during the academy’s May 8 graduation ceremony went viral.

“You people are being so rude to not listen to this speech… Look who’s leaving — all the black people,” she said at the ceremony.

Dr. Heidi Anderson, chair of the board of directors at TNT Academy, wrote in a letter sent to the Gwinnett County NAACP that the board voted to dismiss school director Nancy Gordeuk. WXIA quoted the text of a letter sent by the chair of the TNT school board:

“In light of recent events, the board of directors of TNT Academy has moved to dismiss Nancy Gordeuk as principal. During the coming transition, we will continue to prioritize support for our most recent graduates,” the letter said.

Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson confirmed to the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Guordeuk has been “released.”

TIME Race

The Baltimore Riots Cost an Estimated $9 Million in Damages

Fire fighter attempts to put out a building that was set on fire during riots in Baltimore, USA on April 27, 2015.
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Fire fighter attempts to put out a building that was set on fire during riots in Baltimore, USA on April 27, 2015.

Over 30 businesses and at least one home suffered major damage from April 25 to May 3, survey says

A federal survey estimates that at least $9 million in damages resulted from the Baltimore riots sparked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

The Small Business Administration’s survey calculated damages of $8,927,000 to over 30 businesses and damage of at least $60,000 to one home during the violence from April 25 to May 3, Reuters reports.

Smaller damages were reported by 254 businesses and another home, leaving Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski to push for disaster centers to be set up to assist business owners.

The Baltimore mayor’s office added that 144 vehicles and 15 buildings were incinerated during the violence, with the Baltimore Fire Department noting 61 structural fires from incidents like arson and looting on April 27 and 28.

[Reuters]

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