230 years on, and the book is still being written

22 Jan 2020

The truth is, that after all of the pain that the colonisers have caused, while we are led to believe that the book on Australia’s colonisation is complete, is actually still wide open, with plenty of blank pages to be filled in.


232 years is a long time.

There’s no denying it.

Intergenerational trauma means that no matter how much time passes, the pain of 232 years ago, 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 30 years ago or even yesterday, will be felt into the future for an unknown number of years.

But that’s just it. It started just over 232 years ago, and it never stopped.

In 1788 was invasion. 1779 was a suspicious outbreak of smallpox. Between 1791 and 1928 it was massacres. Between the 1860’s and the 1970’s was slavery. Between 1910 and the 1970’s was the Stolen Generations. Throughout all of that was segregation, and since the 1970’s more kids have been taken. Many more. Aboriginal people have also become one of the most imprisoned people in the world. And still suffer from the two constant undertones that were at play the entire time; Supremacy and Racism. Unfortunately, two, almost unregulatable traits.

The 1967 referendum also played a big part. The constitution left Aboriginal people out of it, meaning that the crown could not make laws for Aboriginal people. They didn’t need to be included, because it was thought that they’d all be dead. That illness, massacres, land and resource theft along with other policies, would lead to our ancestor’s deaths.

Well blackfellas didn’t die out, so the colonisers had to try something else. They had to gain control.

In came the referendum.

The referendum wasn’t to give black people the right to vote. They had that right before then, in 1962 in fact. What was allowed by that referendum, was the ability to make laws for Aboriginal people.

Not that colonisers didn’t already do what the hell they wanted to blackfellas anyway, they were just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.

Since then, things like the NT intervention, the cashless debit card, more policies that take kids from their parents have all been trialled and none of them have really worked.

A few statistics might work in favour of a detrimental policy somewhere along the line, but there’s no statistic that will show you how much you have destroyed someone’s soul. Their self-belief. Their self-esteem. Their confidence in their future, or their kid’s future – and this is what these policies are truly set up to destroy.

Even now, at the beginning of the new year, the government can’t help but push aside the national crisis that is the bushfires to try and discredit an author whose done a bit of research and slapped together a book (I am sure it much more complicated than that) and effectively challenged the narrative of white Australia.

Bruce Pascoe, author of the (I think it’s safe to say famous?) famous book Dark Emu, has been targeted by the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, after receiving an e-mail or letter from an Indigenous woman and entrepreneur, Josephine Cashman.

From what I have read, the letter complains that Pascoe has unjustly claimed monetary benefits on the base that he is claiming to be Indigenous. But this isn’t just what this is about, Cashman has also targeted Pascoe for the claims that Dark Emu makes in the past.

Cashman also joins other conservative voices trying to discredit Pascoe. Andrew Bolt for one has gone tooth and nail at Pascoe’s identity.

There is even a website dedicated to decimating the message the book tells and Pascoe himself. Dark Emu Exposed. I scanned over the site, it was largely a waste and time of effort, it’s very ‘conspiracy theory’.

But what is Dark Emu?

It’s a book that collates the accounts of early explorer and settlers to describe an image of Aboriginal culture and living which challenges what is generally accepted as Indigenous history, as explained by the colonisers.

But what does discrediting Pascoe do to Dark Emu’s credibility?

Absolutely nothing.

Given Dark Emu’s sources, discrediting Pascoe to disprove the book is completely pointless. Except for the fact that is will create a lot of bias against Pascoe, Dark Emu, the TV show that the ABC wants to make about it.

And if Dark Emu Exposed was truly the be all and end all of discrediting the book itself, you can bet it would be getting a lot more traction in right wing media, rather than the low key mentions that only conservatives are likely to see. Because, if you can’t disprove it for everyone, then you might as well, at least, reinforce what your main customers believe.

The truth is, that after all of the pain that the colonisers have caused, while we are led to believe that the book on Australia’s colonisation is complete, is actually still wide open, with plenty of blank pages to be filled in.

It’s why at every chance, kids are still taken, culture is still destroyed, like the Djab Warrung trees, and every time someone like Pascoe makes some leeway in opening up a conversation on history, conservatives feel the need to do anything they can, to shut it down.

They say history is written by the victor. But in a classic hare vs tortoise style twist, it seems that the colonisers, thinking that they had everything under control, took their foot of the pedal – and the book is yet to be finished.

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