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Ed Sheeran

The fear of admitting our Prison and Justice system is racist

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MARTYN 'BOMBER' BRADBURY: The fear that seems to underpin so many of those voices attacking the Waitangi Tribunal's response that the failure to lower Maori incarceration and reoffending amounts to a Treaty breach needs to be acknowledged.

That fear to admit our prison system is racist is the same fear to admit that Maori have been treated unfairly over the last two centuries. It's a fear driven by the need to avoid reflecting upon Pakeha privilege because that demands a response.

In NZ, Pakeha prefer to not respond because responding asks us to think about the inequality that stains our egalitarian pretensions.

After 30 years of the neoliberal cultural and economic experiment, we need to believe in NZ that anyone can get ahead with just a bit of hard work and determination.

In a culture that has increasingly become self obsessed, our wealth is our own personal success just as your poverty is a personal choice. When the obligations and responsibilities are hyper personalised, the need for Government's to regulate against the hegemonic structures of society melt away.

We must not allow the cultural mythology of individualism cloud our reasoning and we must expose the crass institutional racism of our public services as a first step to not only freeing Maori from the shackles of those institutions, but freeing ourselves from a free market philosophy that rewards the few while enslaving the many.

Allowing a prison system that punishes one group of people far more harshly than other groups can not stand and we urgently need a serious review of how that has come to pass while mitigating the ongoing problems.

Over 10 000 NZers are now in prison, more than we have ever had ever in our history as a country, lock em up and throw away the key is not a solution and any ideas that seeks a more compassionate outcome needs immediate exploration.

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