When Antoinette Latuf’s father suggested she do hairdressing instead of journalism, he warned that such women might not be liked by people. “Especially not one who has so many opinions,” he said.
In her debut literature, an Australian journalist responds with favor in hindsight: “Damn it, Dad. Maybe you were right. “
How to lose friends and influence white people has changed times. Black Lives Matter movement landed on the coast of Australia in 2020 and Latuf, co-founder Media Diversity Australia and a former Network 10 reporter, felt a shift in public awareness and a drive for change.
“People are watching and listening to who has previously ignored the problem,” she says. And her book, which plays Dale Carnegie’s 1936 work, How to Make Friends and Influence People, is based on that.
“Times have changed,” says Latuf. “Any right must be fought for and negotiated.”
Her guide talks to both white Australians and people of color, teaches readers to be better advocates and to move away from institutionalized racism.
Latuf cites data from his own experience of a Lebanese refugee daughter. She draws on the experiences of other thinkers and supporters of various media, such as Benjamin Law and Celeste Liddle. And a clever list of what to do and what not to do summarizes each chapter. (For example, on how to be a white ally, “… make sure your alliance is not just superficial” and “No … don’t say ‘I don’t see color’ – unless, of course, you’re not clinically colorblind.”)
It is a burning, witty, carefully crafted handbook on racism, feminism, propaganda, power, relationships, and individual responsibility. But the writing process did not go without pain. Personal stories hurt, the data was sober, and the return of memories of her own journey caused trauma, Latuf says.
“There were times when I sat and cried, cried ugly,” she says.
For example, in the eighth chapter – Release Friends, Family and Unexpected Enemies – Latuf talks about the opposition to her work of people she considered teachers, allies and friends.
In 2020, Media Diversity Australia published its report Who can tell Australian stories? It was the first comprehensive set of data to reveal the deplorable lack of representation in television news, and Latuf expected a backlash from commentators or networks analyzed in the report. What she did not expect was public criticism from people who she thought were on the sidelines.
She says it’s easy to block nameless, faceless people online. “But the people you care about are hard to let down.”
In the book, she cites data that revealed that indigenous women 32 times more likely to be hospitalized because of domestic violence and that person three times more likely to get a call back for a job application named Adam than with the name Mohammed. She points to problems with diverse representation in the media, the legislature and the government. “Australian institutions are” inadequate when you look and see that all our pillars of power are white, “she said.
“The most harmful racism is structural racism, which prevents non-white people in Australia from fully participating and having security, access to power and a voice in our democracy.”
Latuf presents a number of case studies from Adam Goodes to Yumi Steinsto show what happens when non-white people speak out about racism, religion and equality.
Sydney Swans have been targeted by what Latuf calls the character’s murder in the media, after he called a racist remark from the crowd at a 2013 Indigenous Round of AFL games. This led to an instant drop in the player’s popularity and ended with Goods moving away from a career in two years. An Post to Facebook Anzac Day in 2017 eventually led to Sudanese Australian writer Yasmine Abdel-Magyed losing her job in the media and leaving the country after fighting abuse. Most recently, ABC journalist Fauzia Ibrahim’s anti-labor Twitter was discovered “Shit lists” saw her disappear from the TV screens.
Latuf says that when a white media commentator makes a conflicting comment – for example, Prue McSweene says on 2GB that “I would like to run away [Abdel-Magied] finished ”, or many of Alan Jones’ “offensive moments” – they are devoid of front-page criticism, offensive cartoons and exile.
But for colored people, the bandwidth that fails is much lower … life and career can be ruined, ”she says.
Latuf says the precedent is “definitely muffled”, which makes people ask, “Why would I want to try to stick my neck out?”
“Speaking is scary … On an individual level, like a mother and a woman of color.”
She reflects on the aftermath of Abdel-Magieda’s Facebook post. “I’m so sick that I never stood up for her,” she said. “I was afraid that what had happened to her would happen to me, and I didn’t have the strength to change anything.”
One of Latuf’s survival mechanisms was “uniting” with other colored people in the media and activism, including Mariam Weizade and Steins.
Thanks to the practical advice she received from them, Latuf avoids revealing her location on social media, protects her children’s identity from the public and makes mental health a priority. (Remember that the effects of racism can have long-term effects on mental health. Don’t worry about people who are strongly opposed, because they will only exhaust you. “)
“I guess for me I should have really practiced what I preached,” Latuf says. It also meant illuminating a “fairly attentive light” on communities that on the surface appear to be allies or themselves subject to racism.
In her own Arab-speaking community – which “felt the taste of such unfair treatment” – Latuf notices a side invisibility. She calls it “non-white.”
“There is racism … for people like me who are neither black nor white.
“These communities of migrants and refugees think that if they try to be white, they will get a free pass,” she said. “It’s a false sense of security.” (On how not to be white: “… use your closeness to white to support, not condemn, other people of color. Don’t forget that you can be a victim of racism and be a racist to others.”)
She looks closely at white-led feminism, which tramples on the voices of indigenous peoples and various people, calling them “progressives with a taste for prosecco.”
“They’re middle-class, white, but they can’t stand up to their own racism, stand up for different voices, or be happy to see colored people thrive.”
Amidst all this, Latuf still hopes that people are decent.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve definitely felt a shift in recruitment,” she says. “Australians want to do and be the best. People are looking for the right things.
“We can invest in this goodwill. Arm people with evidence-based tools to achieve this. ”