The past isn’t in the past and I can’t just get over it.

In BlogX, Good Reads, History by IndigenousX

The past isn’t in the past and I can’t just get over it.

Author: Karla McGrady

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Today is Invasion Day for my people, officially known as Australia Day, an anniversary of the day when white Australia began its occupation of this country and commenced its mass genocide of the first peoples of this land. There isn’t much I can say that hasn’t already been said by countless others, but I grow tired of and frustrated by the relentless calls for our silence about this countries horrific history; particularly at this time of year.

In this day and age we have become accustomed to educating (or uneducating) ourselves via the media; social media sites often play devil’s advocate when it comes to controversial topics, particularly racism. While I engage at some level in the sharing of stories and images that encourage a view of our country that can make most white Australians feel uncomfortable; my heart is always heavy because I know the racism that this country is built on and so vehemently denies, is only ever one mouse click away.

What prompted me to write today was a number of comments on different posts relating to articles, events and images on social media. And before you say it, I already know that no good can come from reading the comments on articles that reference Indigenous people. In summary (to save you the trauma), it consists of racist trolls who think that we as Aboriginal people are the creators of our own oppression. The most common troll I see is the ‘just get over it, it’s in the past and not my fault!’ post; or the ‘They have the same opportunities as everyone else; they are just lazy and need to get off their backsides’ classic. I want to discuss a few things regarding my people and the way oppression and racism works, because a lot of you ‘nice people who aren’t racist’ just don’t seem to get it.
You tell me that as an Aboriginal person I should ‘get an education just like everybody else’ yet you fail to acknowledge that the system you insist I engage in makes little to no mention of the atrocities committed by your forebears. That my history and that of my ancestors is all but erased from the curriculum but I am somehow supposed to feel a sense of inclusivity and equality and participate nonetheless. As much as you tell me it is ‘for my own good’ that I get an education, you leave out the part where I am treated like the ‘uneducated savage’ you believe me to be in the classroom I am ordered to sit in. You want to tell me I have equal opportunity while you deny me the basic right to speak about my own lived experiences because it makes YOU feel uncomfortable.

That job you tell me to go out and get is given to somebody else because my Aboriginality comes with the assumption that I am lazy or a thief. That house you tell me that I can rent or buy from the same real estate as you, won’t even tell me they have vacancies because their racism and preconceived notions of my ability to pay the rent takes precedence over my application. For the record there is no such thing as an interest fee loan or a free house or car, if you believe that you should probably stop demanding I get an education in a system that has very clearly failed to educate you.

This belief that we as Aboriginal people have the same rights and access to everything that white people in this country have is simply not true and non-existent, equality exists in theory only. You view this country through the lens of your whiteness and privilege, it obscures your reality of racism in this country purely and simply because YOU don’t experience it; this does not mean that it does not exist.

To me, the Australian flag represents a country that willingly and forcefully attempted to eradicate my people from this continent. This perception that it is something I ought to be proud of comes from a position of privilege, of never having to suffer the consequences of laws designed to destroy your identity and your culture. Telling me that I should be grateful it was the British and not some other colonising power that attempted to wipe us out is the height of arrogance, ignorance and is completely dehumanising. This is not a history any of us should be proud of no matter what side off the fence you stand on.

There is nothing to celebrate on January 26, as much as Australia would like to believe that ‘we are better than that’ the simple fact is today and every other day of the year, we are not.

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