Having white skin but Aboriginal ancestors is, in some ways, the worst of both worlds when it comes to finding one’s place in the world.
Through my years I’ve been exposed to racism from white folk who don’t censor their bigotry in my presence, assuming I’ll have no problem with their slurs for black people.
And yet at the same time I’ve been the subject of racially motivated abuse from Aboriginal people, called a white c### dog etc etc more than once, for the crime of having white skin.
I gave up trying to be accepted or get to know the Aboriginal communities around me after years of abuse and threats from so called “elders”, who never stopped to consider maybe someone can be both part Aboriginal and part English. I’ve been told many times there’s no such thing as a “part Aboriginal” so I don’t qualify to be considered part of their group.
I grew up relatively poor and raised by a single mother. I was as affected by poverty as many Aboriginals are. But I learned it had nothing to do with my ancestry. My parents made decisions that had consequences. To this day I’m sure they’ll tell you nothing was their fault. But after many years of quiet observation I’ve realised that I am the only person who is responsible for my actions.
Not belonging to any tribe or group, not having a clear understanding of where I fit in in this world had its drawbacks. But despite the longing and pain a younger version of me went through, I’ve come out the other side seeing how worthless and detrimental those things can be. I have had reason to interact with many struggling young members of society, and I can say with confidence that the one thing keeping them on the crooked and wide path to destruction, is the people who claim to love them; namely their family and group.
I see many children in regional areas who are poisoned from a young age with values and traditions that promote blaming others, taking things that don’t belong to you, being lazy, not planning ahead, solving conflict with violence, and an entitlement attitude that says taxpayers must give you money each fortnight because they owe it to you. When I was younger I remember envying people who had everything handed to them. But now I pity them.
The very things intellectual yet idiotic bureaucrats give to these folk ostensibly to help them, end up becoming drug addictions that keep them suckling on the government’s teet for generations. Everyone is so desperate to not be thought of as racist, that they’d rather people think they were being helpful than ACTUALLY be helpful. After over 30 years of this nonsense, remote areas of Western Australia have suicide rates WORSE than any third world country. Child abuse in Aboriginal communities is rampant, and governments are just scratching their heads, preaching buzzwords and thinking they’re solving the problem by replacing prayer with “welcome to country”.
I am sick of Aboriginal people being pat on the head like a 3 year old for their art or contributions. There’s nothing more infantilising and condescending than being recognised for one’s efforts only because one is Aboriginal. We’re not children, and we want to be judged by the same standard as everyone else.
To my Aboriginal brothers and sisters who want to see change in their communities, I say this if you will hear me:
I love you. I want our people to prosper. But the current way is not working. And repeating it for the next 30 years will not fix anything.
What will fix things is if we together take responsibility for our own actions, as I have found in my own life, and start valuing things that will cause our children to prosper in the modern world. These things are good, and it doesn’t matter that they seem to be white man ideas, they are ideas that cause societies to prosper all over the world. These ideals include: the rule of law, engagement in a liberal democracy, property rights, hard work, planning and investing for the future, studying hard and learning a profession, and having and raising children inside the walls of a loving marriage.
I hear the cries of the “white man took our land”, and I hear your rationalisation that “Aboriginals were just fine for 60,000 years without courts and parliaments.
I honestly do, and there’s truth to those claims.
But here’s a greater truth.
The world isn’t going back to 1769. White people are never leaving this continent. Them apologising and walking around with slumped shoulders of guilt won’t make us feel better, wealthier, or prouder.
Many of the white people you rub shoulders with are descendants of convicts, Australia’s literal slaves, who came here in chains against their will but receive no recognition because their skin colour is the same as that of the wealthy immigrant. They, too, grew up in disfunction and poverty, and yet have been told of their “white privilege” all their lives.
Is there racism toward Aboriginal people still? Yes. It’s sad.
But focusing on that is like a cancer patient spending all his time brushing his teeth instead of getting his cancer cut out. Brushing your teeth is good. Dealing with the thing that is actually killing you is far better.