Culture

Brisbane’s African Community Reports Racist Backlash After COVID Border Controversy

"We cannot allow this to create a second wave of Covid-related racial hostility."

COVID-19

After the public identification of young women who allegedly flouted quarantine rules, the African community in Brisbane is facing racist backlash.  

Last week, NewsCorp was accused of hypocrisy for publicly identifying two women who allegedly lied to officials and didn’t isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. The decision to identify and show their photos on the front page of the Courier Mail with the headline ‘Enemies of the State’ was questioned, with many people wondering why they were identified when other similar cases have not been.

The public identification has resulted in abuse targeted at the women on social media, with a lot aimed at their appearance and race. Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll was forced to speak to the issue, saying “We have seen community members making comments about certain cultural groups and ethnicities — this is not productive at all.”

The Queensland Human Rights Commission has released a statement about the situation, and the direct result it is already having on the African community. Commissioner Scott McDougall pointed out that other people breaching restrictions have not been publicly identified, and the women have received racist attacks as a result.

“Already we have seen comments to ‘deport them’, ‘send them back to where they come from’, and worse, alongside appallingly hyperbolic coverage from some media outlets branding them with terms usually reserved for people accused of treason and other high-level crimes.”

He also shared that the commission had already been contacted by concerned members of Brisbane’s African community. “Some members of the community are already reporting abusive text messages and social media harassment, others are worried about their children being harassed or abused on their way to and from school.”

Commissioner McDougall also called out the racist behaviour. “We cannot allow this to create a second wave of Covid-related racial hostility. The [alleged] actions of just two people cannot and should not be used as an excuse to harass or abuse an entire community – the vast majority of which has, like the rest of Queensland, tried to comply with the rules.”