This letter was published (in part) in the Herald Sun on 22 December 2017.
It’s disappointing to see your front page (21/12) slur all young Victorians of African descent.
By throwing around the term “African youths” as a shorthand for violent criminality, you do an injustice to the vast majority of young African men and women in our community.
Such language also tells your readers that it’s acceptable to define, categorise and judge people on the basis of their race. It’s not.
Young people from migrant backgrounds comprise only a tiny percentage of those involved with the youth justice system. However, they dominate the media coverage.
As Rita Panahi pointed out in a recent column “most crime in this country is committed by Australia-born offenders” and your editorial correctly states that “it would be wrong and unfair to say the problem is largely dominated by immigrants”.
Your misleading front-page distortion fuels racism and exacerbates a climate of fear, creating an unhelpful divide in our community.
If we want to build safer communities with less crime and more opportunity, then we must stop stigmatising young people and start respecting them.
Jesuit Social Services, Victorian Council of Social Services, Smart Justice for Young People, FYouth Law, lemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre, WEstjustice.