Putting face to the many loving and intact Aboriginal families and engaged and active #IndigenousDads is necessary to reject Leak’s caricature of us, equally we need to find a way to talk about some sad realities beyond the reach of the Bill Leaks of the world and beyond the reach of those who fight with or against him over the top of us.
Judging from his latest cartoon and from his lame defence of it, I guess that difficult conversation is about how Aboriginal fathers are all drunks and the myriad of reasons why that’s funny…
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day has been formally celebrated since 1988, when we took to the streets in protest. In truth, Children’s Day has been celebrated in community, in some form or another, for much longer than that.
I’ve been on a major high since being presented with the Australia Council’s Dreaming Award at the National Indigenous Arts Awards in late May. Last Friday, months of feeling seriously pumped at being acknowledged as an Aboriginal music artist came to a screeching halt – after a racist encounter with an Uber driver.
I sat on this one for a while, not sure whether I could bring myself to write about it one more time, or if there was even anything left to say.
I was just 11 years old when the cousin that I loved and adored spent what would be his last night in Tenterfield at our home, laughing and telling jokes and stories, just being everything you could ever want to be when you got older.
I was 11 years old when I walked up that road behind Evelyn’s family and her father, who carried her tiny little white coffin in his arms to her final resting place.
By now everyone is or should be aware that RDH left Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu to die from a chronic illness he has suffered since childhood. He had vomited blood, had internal bleeding and required immediate surgery and yet he was forced to wait 8 hours before he was attended to in which time he could have quite easily died. There are allegations that he was either racially profiled or that the hospital is completely incompetent. “The racial profiling allegations were “completely ridiculous”, said hospital spokesman Professor Dinesh Arya.” So we will have to assume that the professor while dismissing the racial component is admitting to the complete incompetence because no hospital in Australia should be leaving any person vomiting blood to wait 8 hours to be cared for.
But there are signs Professor Dinesh Arya’s denials about racism being involved are also wrong, Gurrumul’s long time manager Mark Grosse sighted the notes made by hospital staff that essentially stated he was a “drinker” and well you do the math. Professor Arya claims he visited Gurrumul, although this is denied by his manager as Gurrumul does not remember the visit, nor do the ward’s staff and Gurrumul’s Specialist also sighted the suspect notes. Mr Grosse paraphrases those notes as “It clearly says to me that he is Aboriginal, as a result of heavy drinking his conditions has developed. He’s unlikely to survive, therefore not sure really if any action is needed, that’s the message essentially in his notes”.
Sorry white peeps, this isn’t a useful ‘How to’, as the heading suggests, but don’t worry because most white people are already experts at this.
Racism isn’t just the overt hatred of other races, and it isn’t always blind hatred either, but if you were raised in Australia then you have probably been far more regularly exposed to racist attitudes than you have been to almost anything else.
That slogan is decades old, and it’s meaning hints at white Australia’s long standing reluctance to meaningfully acknowledge Aboriginal people and perspectives in the telling of our national history. Earlier this year a person wearing a shirt with this slogan on it was forced to turn it inside out before being allowed to enter Parliament House. Apparently this seemingly obvious concept is still perceived as threatening to the white Australian ideal of this land being ‘settled in peace and not war’.
Earlier this week, our most recent former PM went to great lengths to rewrite his own history in an article for Quadrant, and although he didn’t mention the words ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’ whatsoever in his article, he did manage to include the line that ““Unlike France or Britain, we lack a colonial past to complicate the present,” – this was just the latest in a long line of similar comments from Abbott in denying the existence of Aboriginal people (“Nothing but bush”) and the realities of invasion (“a form of foreign investment”).
Divisive is one of those words that some politician used once to justify their racism, sexism, and/or homophobia and everyone else has just kinda jumped on the bandwagon.
The most recent example of this is the Council of Campbelltown SA refusing to fly the Aboriginal flag because apparently it would be ‘divisive’ to fly an official flag of Australia.