Peak racism

Rodney Hide discusses peak racism in his Herald on Sunday Column.

My first preference is to stick with our present flag. My second choice was “Red Peak” – but not any more.

I didn’t know why Red Peak appealed. It just did. But thanks to Maori broadcaster Tu Harawira I now know it’s because it’s a racist flag appealing to my inner colonialist. Red Peak now disgusts me.

It came as a jolt when Harawira this week told the 24-hour Flag Summit that Red Peak symbolises “white deciding where the colours will go”.

“To me this is a symbol of the white fellas with all the colours in the corner.”

I had not realised that. I thought it just a nice flag. But that’s me being simple-minded. The key thing about modern-day racism is that it’s subtle and subconscious. We are guilty without knowing. We are fortunate to have Harawira to guide the likes of me.

Racism is hurled about with gay abandon these days. The most laughable when talking about Islam.

Occasionally, I treat the children to ice-cream. Their favourite is vanilla. But the white ice-cream sits atop the brown cone. What message am I sending my children?

Is there a subliminal racist appeal to icecream in a cone? Clearly, I can’t trust my judgment. I lack Harawira’s finely tuned antenna. Am I raising my children to be racists? Would they, too, be Red Peakers?

I am scared the cycle is set to perpetuate generation after generation.

I need a list of what’s okay and what’s not. I want to think only correct thoughts and to like only correct things but my whiteness and colonial ancestry blind me to what’s right and what’s not. I wonder if a caring Government agency could fund Harawira to produce such a list?

No list exists. Racism is perceived randomly and when it suits the accuser.

Forgive me. It’s not my fault. I was born white. And then there’s my upbringing. Growing up I was fooled by Martin Luther King when he said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I now know King was good but limited.

His only concern was conscious racism, not the subconscious type that Harawira is battling.

For King, the ideal was to be oblivious of colour but for Harawira racism is ever-present and must be forever combatted by hypersensitivity to colour. And not just to the colour of people but also things.

Our attitude to things can prove us racist like I was. To my eternal shame I once supported Red Peak.

We must look at the colour of everything. And the shapes.

Harawira’s call should be a wake-up to us all that colours and shapes can be subliminally racist. It’s obvious now: that white triangle pushing black, blue and red to the margins.

Subliminal racism..that’s a new one. I drive a black ute…does that make me a racist?


– Herald on Sunday

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.