Last night the Morrison government announced that they were changing the national anthem, to be more inclusive of Indigenous peoples and of migrants (the not white ones anyways), by changing a single word, ‘young’. It’s now ‘one’.
We don’t get to gatekeep conversations, we have a responsibility to encourage them
And even though colourism is not a new conversation, and neither is cultural appropriation, or community accountability, I feel both a freedom with which younger ones are willing to talk about them, and an attempt to shut them down by some of my contemporaries which I do not want to engage in.
Aboriginal people didn’t invent the wheel, but so what?
We’ve decided to start making some short videos since we’ve all got a bit more time on our hands... our first one is from IndigenousX founder and CEO Luke Pearson talking about ‘Why didn’t Aboriginal people invent the wheel?’ - not just the reasons why we didn’t but, more importantly, the reason racists love to bring this up. Hope you enjoy!
ABC Newcastle deleted a post about Newcastle's Invasion Day rally in response to racist comments. This article explains why deleting ABC content and erasing Indigenous stories is not an acceptable option.
Patriotism that should be about a love of the land and people has become instead about a justification for bigotry and racism, about instilling hatred in the perceived ‘other’, and about providing a comfortable smokescreen for government looking after its own interests at the expense of the rest of us.
Racists pretending to be Aboriginal online is not a new phenomenon, with the basic idea being to increase hatred against Aboriginal people by validating white supremacist rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
We don’t want you as our envoy: Abbott’s first trip to NT as Special Envoy
Gadrian Hoosan, a parent and school council member told Abbott he ‘was not welcome in the community since intervention policies ripped out community funding leaving residents worse off, while denying much needed new housing and basic services.’
This Reconciliation Week, take some time to learn about Whiteness
It isn't enough to learn about Aboriginal history to create true understanding. We also need to examine the lens through which history is viewed... White supremacy (and Social Darwinism) still shapes much of the way White Australia sees Aboriginal peoples, cultures and history.
Two of the most popular phrases in Australia, that could not be further apart. One that implores us to honour our history and those who were a part of it, while the other not only ignores a comparable history but aggressively dismisses it and admonishes those who would honour it.
The language of blame, responsibility and accountability
Aboriginal people are over-represented in most of the negative statistics and under-represented in most of the positive ones.
This is the fundamental reality underpinning government programs like ‘Closing the Gap’.
Harmony Day is the perfect day to water down racial discrimination laws
Harmony Day first started in 1999, under the Howard government, and was its way of finding a warm and positive way of not actually doing anything about the issue of racial discrimination in an increasingly multicultural society.
To many, NAIDOC week is a week for family fun days, celebrations, flag-raising, the NAIDOC Ball, and other similar events. The origins of NAIDOC speak to much more though, and perhaps it is time that we thought about taking it back to its roots.
The Wombat to Kaptn Koori – Aboriginal representation in comic books and capes
Growing up, I was a huge comic book fan, but I often wondered why there weren’t many Aboriginal comic book heroes (or villains). I knew of Gateway from Marvel’s X-Men comics, and Condoman from health promotion posters and … Well, that’s about it actually.
6 in 10 white Australians claim they have never met an Indigenous person… But so what?
Reconciliation Australia has found that six out of 10 Australians have had little or no contact with Aboriginal people. It is often held up as a sign of how far we still have to go on our national ‘Reconciliation journey’, and in some ways I can see the relevance but I also think it’s wrong to place too much stock on this statistic.
In Australia, most of us have heard of the phrase ‘casual racism’. According to the Human Rights Commission it refers to ‘conduct involving negative stereotypes or prejudices about people on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity’ – which sounds a lot like racism, and doesn’t seem particularly casual either, at least not from the perspective of those on the receiving end.
All the talk of getting rid of 18C in the Racial Discrimination Act is centred around this idea that it shouldn’t be illegal to offend or insult someone. The conversation usually tries to clear of mentioning that it has to be specifically because of their race, colour, or ethnic origin, and it definitely never goes so far as to examine, or in any way acknowledge, the myriad of exclusions for 18C presented by 18D.
#IndigenousDads – combating stereotypes and reclaiming the conversation
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.
These are various questions I have been asked about the whole idea of 'Sorry" over the years. Some of the answers are what I have said, others what I should have said, and some others I probably shouldn't have said, but I did; so, you know... sorry about that.
Q. "Why should I be sorry for what my ancestors did?"
Treaty vs Recognition – the importance of self determination
The Treaty vs Recognition debate is an interesting one, although it probably still hasn’t received the attention and scrutiny that it deserves. The push for Treaty is older than any of us, but it has risen to prominence again largely from the frustration felt by many with how the Recognise campaign has been rolled out.
Can Australia handle the idea that it wasn’t always the ‘good guy’?
Australian likes to see itself as the Lucky Country, the land of the fair go, home of the ‘Aussie battler’. We like stories of underdog battling against the odds, even if they don’t always overcome them – Ned Kelly, ANZACs at Gallipoli, the Australian farmer, convicts, bushrangers – these are our national heroes.
These are how many Australians still like to view themselves, even though most Australians today have never farmed the land or even ridden a horse, have never fought in a war (thankfully!), were not sent to Australia in chains, and have never even worn a trashcan on our heads while having a shootout with police.
I was a ‘young Indigenous leader’ once – now I’m just some guy
I was once tapped as ‘young Indigenous leader’, and have been invited to various equivalent programs over the years to talk to the next generation of ‘young leaders’ and it has never really sat that well with me that the opportunities provided to our ‘young leaders’ don’t seem to continue very well after we turn 25. What is the point of focusing on recruitment if there is not a similar focus on retention and promotion?
Me, being all young Indigenous leadery and whatnot.
Karmaphobia or: How to be a racist but still be a good person
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.
Don’t tell me to ‘get over’ a colonialism that is still being implemented today
The recent shenanigans around the use of “invasion” instead of “settlement” was annoying on so many levels. Not least of which was the stark reminder of how many Australians just require an inciting “green light” from media to let loose a tirade of hatred and ignorance aimed at Indigenous people.
It can happen at the drop of a hat, over the most insignificant of events.
The recent shenanigans around the use of ‘invasion’ instead of ‘settlement’ was annoying on so many levels. Not least of which was the stark reminder of how many Australians just require an inciting ‘green light’ from media to let loose a tirade of hatred and ignorance aimed at Aboriginal people.
It can happen at the drop of a hat, over the most insignificant of events. Even a years old document stating things that have been around for decades can set it off. Never mind that it is not an enforceable document demanding students think and talk in a certain way. Never mind Captain Cook, who wasn’t even mentioned in the document in question, was not the first white person to come to Australia. Never mind that the Australian national ethos can proudly embrace historical criminals who opposed government in the form of bushrangers, but feels threatened by the acknowledgement of Aboriginal resistance fighters. Never mind that the edicts from England which spoke of peaceful negotiations, purchasing land and forming treaties were completely ignored in favour of the myth of Terra Nullius, or that the infamous posters pictorially claiming that both white people and Aboriginal people alike would be hung for killing each other was completely ignored (the only white people to be hanged for killing Aboriginal people was after the Myall Creek Massacre, the only massacre that has entered mainstream Australian consciousness, not because of the horrific nature of the massacre itself, but because of the fact that white people were punished for it). Never mind any of that, because as amateur historian Kyle Sandilands said, “get over it, it’s 200 years ago.”
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").
Being Inclusive of Aboriginal People is Divisive Because… Reasons.
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.
Apple, Facebook and Google Taken to Human Rights Commission over Racist Survival Island 3 App
A group of Aboriginal applicants have today lodged a group complaint to the Human Rights Commission against the multinational suppliers of the free online App/Game ‘Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D’ for racial vilification under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
Four years ago, on the 15th March 2012, we launched the @IndigenousX twitter account. Every week since then we have had an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person take control of the account for a week to say pretty much whatever they want to say. We have had actors, activists, artists, authors, academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, uni students, and countless others around the country who have given their time to share their stories, experiences and perspectives – it hasn’t always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.
There was much uproar when Dennis Jensen recently evoked the centuries old ideal of the Noble Savage, mostly because he used a term so outdated and racist that most of us aren’t really all that familiar with it, we just know that it is outdated and racist.
We need to do more than just condemning racism to close the gap.
There is currently a Change.org petition circulating with over 20,000 signatures calling Prime Minister Turnbull to condemn the words of racist shock jock, Alan Jones, who recently said that “We need Stolen Generations”.
There is certainly a lot of merit to the idea that, as Prime Minister, it is important that our nation see Malcolm Turnbull speak out against such racist, offensive, dangerously ignorant, and grossly ill-informed comments.
There isn’t a New Stolen Generations, the old one never ended.
Ever since Kevin Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations, this week has been one of the bigger weeks in media and Government for discussion of Indigenous issues. Each year we hear updates on the Government's Closing the Gap initiative, as well as the Close the Gap report. We hear discussions and reflections on the Apology, at the time called 'The First Step' in addressing our past and creating pathways to a better future.
One topic which is notably underrepresented during this increased focus on Indigenous issues is perhaps the most relevant to what the Apology was about, and that is the overwhelming number of Indigenous children who continue to be removed from their families. The rate of which is today higher than at any point in Australia's history.
Close the Gap. Closing the Gap.
The former is the campaign to get the government to change the way it structures the Indigenous Affairs; the latter is the government’s efforts to do so. The fact that the government hijacked the branding of the Close the Gap campaign to make its own response look better was probably not a great way to build trust and send a message of respect, partnership and collaboration… but I digress.
Acknowledging racism is not being divisive, it is our only hope for unity.
Was pretty excited recently to learn that Wiradjuri man Joe Williams had won the Wagga Wagga Citizen of the Year award, but was also instantly worried for him. I knew that Joe would use this opportunity to talk about what he believes in, and that a lot people would not be happy to hear it.
I’m the first to admit that I think a lot about seemingly random stuff… I like to unpack things that are said to see what deeper meaning they might represent, or what patterns of thought or inconsistencies they might reveal.
According to the Australia Day website:
“The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.”
According to the Australia Day website, it is a day where “we come together as a nation to celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian.”
Personally, I don’t see how anyone could think that the 26th of January would ever ‘bring everyone together’, or how it celebrates what’s great about Australia, or being Australian… I just don’t see it.
I think it’s great that Australia is home to some of the oldest living cultures on Earth.
Free speech isn’t something I thought about much before Andrew Bolt gave me a reason to. If I did, it was usually in reference to America, as we don’t really have Free Speech in Australia.
It is a pretty fascinating concept. It’s nothing that I can say I really care much about, but that’s only because the reality of what we have is a very long way from the virtuous concept of what it is meant to be. I could say the same of my general disinterest in the democratic process. On paper it looks great, but in practice it’s just a mockery of what it is meant to be.
One thing I enjoy about being framed as an ‘Indigenous writer’ is that I don’t have to pretend that I’m trying to be objective. Even if I made every effort to do so not many people would believe it anyway as Indigeneity is perceived as a form of inherent bias, whereas whiteness brings with it at least the potential to feign objectivity.
I think some journalists probably try their best to be objective, those who are acutely aware of their inherent biases would be those best placed to reach a point vaguely resembling objectivity.
Here we go again: Bill Leak isn’t racist, according to Bill Leak.
With the possible exception of members of overt White Supremacist groups it is rare to find anyone who proudly, or even reluctantly, admits they are racist or have committed an act of racism.
Andrew Bolt, according to himself, was actually defending ‘real Aborigines’ when he racially vilified a group of Indigenous people.
Government not on track to meet Closing the Gap targets because of course they aren’t.
A Productivity Commission has found that the government will probably not meet 5 of the 6 Closing the Gap targets, leaving many astounded to hear that they might actually achieve one of them.
(It should be noted at the outset that the government’s ‘Closing the Gap’ is not the same as ‘Close the Gap’, which is a coalition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and community organisations.)
Are White Student Unions At Universities Really Such A Bad Idea?
Yes. They really are a bad idea. (I could pretty much end it there, but that probably doesn't make for a very interesting post though, so I'll go on a bit of a rant as well and see where it takes us...)
In fairness, not as bad an idea as the NT Intervention, or trying to implement religious tests for refugees, or cutting over half a billion dollars from Indigenous Affairs, and not even as bad an idea as giving Bolt his own tv show, but still... it's a pretty bad idea.
The past week has seen a continuation and an escalation of terror. Attacks of terror and counter-attacks of terror have hit numerous countries, leaving hundreds dead, thousands of friends and family members in mourning, and many around the world feeling lost, fearful, hurt, confused, and looking for something, anything, to ‘do’ in response to all of it.
Why We Will Never Find The ‘Most Appropriate’ Term To Refer To All Indigenous Australians.
Finding the ‘most appropriate’ term to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/Indigenous Australians/First Australians/First Peoples/First Nations etc is like the Holy Grail of stuff that seems like it would be way easier than it actually is to resolve. Sadly though, it is a conversation that will never go away, and is also one that will probably never be entirely resolved.
A big part of the problem stems from the refusal to accept and use the hundreds of original names that exist, eg Wiradjuri, Noongar, Gamilaroi, etc, and even that often has the issue of agreed upon English spelling of these words. This also doesn't solve the desire to refer to all groups under a single banner, even though we never had one ourselves.
Hey ABC & Susan Butler, Please Don’t Ever Call Me A ‘Boong’ Again.
First of all I need to say that I am a big fan of lexicography, I find it to be a fascinating art/science, and generally speaking if you are in a semantic argument with a lexicographer then you better bring your A-game.
Every now and again we hear in media that ‘research has found that racism may play a factor in [insert literally any school, uni course, job, or industry], and then it usually disappears from public discourse for a few months or even years. Sometimes, very rarely though, it flares up into the full blown media circus that is “Is Australia a racist country?”. This quickly leads to various groups of white people in the media attacking anyone who would dare suggest that racism exists in any other form than ‘reverse racism’, which we’re told is a is a very real and serious problem, and not at all a completely farcical circlejerk. They may also tell of us about all of their black friends, and then will usually attack the ‘professional anti-racists’ who rely on ‘playing the race card’ in order to make white people feel various feels…
The Changes to the National Curriculum have Nothing to do with Education
There has been some, but not a lot, of talk recently about the announced changes to the National Curriculum; a ‘greater emphasis’ on ‘our Christian heritage’, and a removal of any specific reference to Indigenous people (and migrants) from various parts of the curriculum, for example, in ‘Contributions to our society’ in Year 6.
Another Government Review. Another Disappointment.
According to a recent article in The Australian, “Indigenous issues have been cut from parts of the curriculum, and students will no longer be taught about Harmony Week, “National Reconciliation Week, or NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week… The Year 6 study of the contribution of “individuals and groups” to Australian society will no longer include a reference to indigenous people or migrants, and will be confined to the post-Federation period.”
<em>Educator and parent, Leesa Watego, reflects on these changes, and what they tell us about Australia’s inability to understand and respect the Indigenous peoples, cultures, and histories.
As many Indigenous specific programs and services continue to downsize or disappear altogether due to Federal and State governments cutting funding and withdrawing support, many are turning to the online community to keep their doors open.
Crowdfunding is a great tool for raising funds for one off events, campaigns, or projects. It is also great for startups who aspire to make themselves sustainable but need that initial capital to get the ball rolling; but can it be an effective means of maintaing essential services and programs designed to impact positively on the lives of Indigenous people?
Tony Abbott Is Not The Prime Minister For Indigenous Affairs.
Tony Abbott calling himself the PM for Indigenous Affairs is similar to my young niece calling herself Batman. It was fairly cute at first, but after the hundredth time she has punched me and ran away screaming ‘I’m Batman!!’, the joke is wearing kinda thin.