My Dear South-Sudanese friends
Many of us, especially those who reside in Melbourne, have been upset or angered by the story recently aired by Channel 9 regarding the ‘APEX gang’. However, I am urging the community to calm down and ensure that our emotions do not take the best of us. It is imperative that we reflect on what the story is trying to convey to the wider Australian community about us. Understandably, it is difficulty not to be upset about the way Channel Nine’s A Current Affair (ACA) show reported the story on the so-called ‘Apex’ gang, the lack of ethical journalistic requirements and poor choices they made in putting that story together.
A screenshot of Channel 9’s ACA story recently aired around Australia
The two boys Channel 9 interviewed in the story do not represent not even 1% of South Sudanese Victorians and it is a disgrace considering the state in which these boys were on for Channel to consider their voices credible for that story. A significant number of us have heard and read about the history of Australian media on how many media outlets, especially commercial channels, tend to focus on new arrivals in regard to crime and use anything they get to depict what they view as a lack of integration or some form of threat to the Australian way of life coming from them. This form of racism and discrimination was practiced on some of the earlier migrant communities who came to Australia before us, including Vietnamese, Italians, Greeks, Lebanese and now it seems like it is our turn to be bashed through ugly headlines and sensationalist reporting.
We are all aware that media plays an important role in every society. The media is the most powerful form of communication worldwide, and in some countries not even the government can control them. Therefore, there is nothing we as a community can do to stop the media from reporting mostly negative things about us, painting us in a negative light as they are doing now and have been doing since South Sudanese started arriving en masse in Australia.
I would suggest we respond to such incidents through the right channels of complaint like the Australian Media Communication Authority (ACMA), which has the power to regulates the media industry. I urge all of us to not give in; we must fight, but need to understand that it will take time for this form of discrimination/racism to fade. In the meantime, we may consider airing our grievances towards the media in different ways, including: run demonstrations and also continue to empower ourselves with knowledge and motivation to take bold steps to combat media racism. It is also important that we start listening to each other and support one another in order to combat such negative forces in our community.
Our community leaders need to work hand in hand with the parents of the troubled youth so that we can help them change their way of thinking and their behaviours. Parents need to invest in their children by engaging them in meaningful activities. It is paramount that parents do not put their interests first before the children e.g. men spending much of their time on politics back home and women getting involved in so many parties during the weekend. If we invest more time on the next generation to prevent this form of discrimination from following them, as a community we will witness improvement in the way the Australian mainstream media views us in a short period of time. We must also stop playing the victim card, because obviously it is not working and we must take concrete actions to support and empower our youth in order to survive and thrive in this country.
The two men representing ‘The United Patriots Front’ in the ACA story are ‘Australian’ men who say they are defending Australia from us (migrants). There is no doubt that these guys (who probably have migration in their blood somehow) became tired of the arm-robberies, which are certainly not only committed by our youth, but young people from all races and backgrounds. We must follow the right channels to complain and advocate for our community because it is the few bad apples that have definitely spoiled the whole community.
As we do all of the above, we must also continue to celebrate the thousands ordinary South Sudanese men, women, young and old who are are contributing positively to the wider Australian community in sports, arts, education, health and so many other professions.