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Runoko Rashidi recently contacted Mobilization 2/21 and we are pleased to feature some of his articles. He is a historian, research specialist, lecturer and traveler. He is currently coordinating an educational tour to India entitled "Looking at India through African Eyes" scheduled for March 1999. For information on the tour, lecture dates, audio and videotapes, contact Rashidi at or call (210) 648-5178.




On 19 November 1998 I boarded a Qantas airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. It was to be my first trip to Australia and the flight lasted fourteen hours. Thirty minutes after going through customs in Sydney I boarded a connecting flight to Darwin, Northern Territories in Australia' `top end.'

My interest in the Black people of Australia (known generally as "Aborigines") begin as a young college student in the early 1970s when I chanced to read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the brutal treatment meted out to Australia's aboriginal people by the English convicts, administrators, soldiers and missionaries who landed in Sydney's Botany Bay beginning in January 1788. The article told of scores of Black people tossed to their deaths from high cliffs, and rewards being offered for the scalps of Black men, women and children. All of this and more I was later to confirm for myself:

During the nineteenth century, for example, it was not uncommon for Whites to shoot Black people for use as dog food. Indeed, during certain periods of marshal law it was not a crime to murder a Black man. Sometimes an entire family of Black people would be rounded up by Whites. In front of his family the Black man would be handcuffed and then castrated. His head would then be cut off and strung around the widow's neck who would then be brutally gang-raped. Following this the children would be buried in the earth up to their heads. White men would then, with the mother of the children forced to watch, kick and club their heads off. Black people were given blankets infected with small pox virus. Their waterholes were poisoned. They were infected, women and children, with venereal diseases.

It was only in 1967 that Aboriginal people in Australia were considered human. Today, the Black people of Australia constitute 1.6% of the total population but Black men make up 70% of the prison population. Black women make up 50% of the total prison population. The life expectancy for a Black man in Australia is forty-five years. The infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world. TO BE CONTINUED

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