Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Why this blog?

I decided to find the time to enter the realm of the bloggers after being snubbed.  That sort of thing has a way of making you angry enough to go to a little more effort than you normally would.  You see, I committed a cardinal sin apparently.  I saw offence in a piece of artwork and tried to speak up. 

This piece, in particular:-




The artist in question, Bindi Cole, is front and centre.  Notably, a woman with white skin whose entire family has decided to paint themselves in minstrel make-up and adorn headscarves as if to portray themselves as Aboriginal Elders.  All in an effort apparently to stymie those people who, when told by Ms Cole that she is Aboriginal, always reply 'but, not really Aboriginal'.

I hate to cast aspersions on any persons talent, real or imagined, but controversy in itself is not art.  It reads instead like a prank gone wrong, a hit and a big miss at social commentary, and if the 'artist' in question didn't claim to have Aboriginal Heritage, the outrage, quite rightly, would have been enormous.  The urban art scene fainted in joy at her 'boldness' and talent.  At every opening of gushing urbanites, it was a sea of white skin. 

If Ms Cole truly understood the offence that blackface causes to those people who, unlike her, have black skin, this piece of 'art' would not exist.  I have seen many beautiful pieces of photography that I would class as art.  This is not one of them.

Putting her foot in it even further, Ms Cole goes on to claim (in her accompanying notes to her work that were submitted for, and won, a $25k Indigenous Art prize) that there are no full-blooded Aborigines left in Victoria. Being that I am actually black skinned and an Aborigine from Victoria whose family lineage research thus far has established I am a 'full-blood', I am puzzled. Has Ms Cole traced all Victorian Aboriginal genealogies? Is she a self-appointed expert on the matter, or did she hope to slip that one under the radar and hope nobody would notice?

I asked for a retraction of her statement and an apology.  I am still waiting for the dignity of a reply.  Somehow, I imagine one will not be forthcoming.  I am more than happy to prove my heritage and stand behind what I say, funnily, Ms Cole is not at all interested in opening a dialogue.  She wields power in the community, being that she is part of a fast growing group of coddled and entitled White Aborigines who have found favour with other White Skinned Aboriginies in important Indigenous Identified positions throughout Bureaucratic Australia.

So, this blog is my outlet, to share my encounters with people like Ms Cole, and all the other people who use Aboriginality as a way to further their careers, whilst exploiting the very people they claim to represent.  My way to feel like I have a voice, as a black skinned Aboriginal man who feels ignored by the very people who are purporting to represent him, but in essence, do not.

18 comments:

  1. Well Mr Blacksteamtrain,
    Put up your well researched credentials as a full blood aboriginal. Someone with your genealogy shouldn't hide behind an online persona - you should be proud of who you are and put up your real name.
    Throwing "coloured" stones at high profile Aboriginal people makes you as bad as Andrew Bolt.
    Luckly for the rest of us light skinned Aboriginal people only few than 100 people have viewed this tripe.
    More respect if you come out in public with your real name.

    Regards
    Jason B King

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    1. calling BST "as bad as bolt" because he, as an Aboriginal man was offended by a white skinned person and her family "blacking up" and ignorantly desecrating traditional head-scarves? Real classy. I'm not even Aboriginal and I feel a bit angry upon seeing that image.

      BST is correct, we can assume that if the 'artist' pulling this stunt didn't claim aboriginal ancestry, the shitstorm would have been pretty immense.

      I can see why he's incensed, Bindi Cole's stunt was deplorable and offensive, just because she claims Aboriginal heritage doesn't mean she can't do something that I'm sure many Aboriginals found insensitive and racist, the implication that grant-wealthy, urbanite, pale skinned Aboriginals can "black up" if they feel like they aren't taken seriously enough is appalling.

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    2. To Jason B. King. It takes no time at all to find out the name of the blogger and he has a picture in his bio showing the colour of his skin. An incredibly talented writer he is more than a match for real racists such as yourself.

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  2. I wouldn't get too mouthy there Mr GEGAC, plenty of room for you on the 'shit list'. You won't be able to buy me off from spilling your secrets though, I'm a bit special like that.

    I believe our paths are due to cross very soon. I will introduce myself to you in person then.

    Oh and 'Coloured stones'? My, you are a classy fellow.

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  3. Dallas come on! Spill my secrets I'd love for you to tell me my life story.

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  5. "Jason King has worked in Aboriginal health and affairs since 2002. He is 40 years old and a proud Aboriginal man – his father’s parent’s ancestry comes from the Gunditjmara people of Western Victoria and Ngargio people of Southern NSW. And Jason’s mother has Scottish and Irish heritage. He identifies with his grandfather’s people of Lake Condah the Gunditjmara"

    So whats he doing in east Gippsland Victoria vacuuming up every grant,perk,award and accolade he can get his greedy white hands on?

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    1. I think a more pressing question for Mr King is how his organisation had the funding to send him, all expenses paid, to Canberra and the U.S.A, but have run out of funding money to provide food vouchers to the hungry local Aboriginal people for whom the funding is supposed to be assist. The local Salvos are having to pick up the extra demand, but then, they don't make a habit of sending their staff on lavish trips so they have enough in reserve to feed all the poor.

      I would like an answer to your questions as well nemesis.

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    2. All expenses paid to Canberra - there is no expenses paid. It's a secondment ad I pay my own way. The trip to CANADA was paid for by DHS to look at the way the Canadian Aboriginal people have taken the role of Child Protection into their own organizations.

      The BST needs his facts right too, GEGAC is funded a total of $6,000

      As for the other question raised by someone hiding their identity - I have never received an award, the grants are for the community and for which I am paid by a community elected board to source for improved services for the local Aboriginal community. As for why am I'm here in Gippsland, better still why are you here in Australia..... Maybe you Nemesis should go back to where your ancestors come from. My grandmother lived in Orbost, my grandfather moved from Lake Condah to Orbost, thus my family grew up in Gippsland.

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    3. You need to address the disquiet in the community about the funding. If Elders from your area are talking to me and asking me to look into these claims, then of course I am going to ask you these same questions at any opportunity I have.

      $6,000 funding total for GEGAC? Are you sure?

      Did you get my permission to use a photo of my daughter in your booklet for HACC?

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    4. Dallas FaHCSIA funds all Emergency Assistance for all agencies, black or white. I am sure that it is $6k but may have gone up? You can check their website it has all the orgs that receive funding. But its purpose is meant for paying bills like electricity and gas ad water bills, really not for food.

      The HACC booklet? I'm unaware that we had used images of locals on there but if you talk to the acting CEO Pete Ryan he could help as I am working for NACCHO at the moment.

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  6. Hi BST. I've read all your blogs so far and love your work. I would have to say I agree with your views but I think part of that is because I'm a white fella.

    About the only contact I've had with an aboriginal was at high school. I think she too lived with a white family but I never really asked how or why. I was a lot younger then. From what I have heard and seen though I managed to form the opinion that it was more of a culture clash than anything else.

    What I mean is that western culture values and results are based on the Christian ethos. Moral god. Reliable laws and repeatable outcomes etc. What I felt is that it was possible that the aboriginal people who don't have this underlying traditional culture don't seem to cope with the trappings of it. Dont place the same value on education etc.

    I am happy to be corrected in this but wonder if you have been so indoctrinated in our culture (and are now happy to be so, of which I am glad) that you almost have a white mans opinion of the black people? Do those you speak for feel the same? If so , is the only real barrier education? Or specifically, a white education?

    Are there any real ways a white man can help a real black man? Or are the trains all making the wrong stops?

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    1. PuzSol - Thank you for your comments, lots of questions in there, but I will try to answer them all for you, for you've brought up some very interesting issues.

      No doubt, there would be people happy to call me a 'coconut' - black on the outside, white on the inside. Do I have a white mans opinion of black people? I don't believe so - what I like to think I have is a unique opinion shaped over the years by the unique experiences that I have had. One that is neither black or white entirely - I think it is far more complex than that.

      Do those I speak for feel the same? I certainly don't speak for every Aboriginal person who has black skin (I haven't met all of them), but I am aware that my comments reflect an undercurrent of anger that is present in many communities. It is a building up of this anger that led me to even put my thoughts online.

      Is education a barrier?
      More than anything else. I know far too many men and women who are unable to read. This excludes them from the ability to engage in exactly what we are doing here, airing our thoughts and opinions.

      Specifically a white education?
      Maybe something more in the middle. And in a perfect world, something that is not rigidly applied in a one-size-fits-all approach. From community to community, you have different challenges and any widespread application will always deliver mixed results.

      How can a white man help a real black man?
      That is a hard question to answer. Not because there is nothing you can do, but, because you may find yourself shut out and disillusioned when you do try to help directly.

      I think perhaps we can find an answer somewhere in another question:-

      How would you like to be able to help?

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  7. G'day BST,

    I saw you on SBS the other night. I especially appreciated your input to the show along with that of Anthony Dillon.

    I'm about to submit the following comment to Bindi Cole's blog under her entry "Not Really Aboriginal..." I doubt it will get past moderation but thought it worthwhile to try.

    This photo series, while no doubt provocative, fails to challenge prevailing views of Aboriginality. Its remarkable failure is cemented by Ms Cole’s total lack of sensitivity towards those Aboriginals who find blackface profoundly offensive:

    http://theblacksteamtrain.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/why-this-blog.html.

    Ms Cole’s work betrays a deep estrangement from the feelings of those Aboriginals she offends regardless of the explicit intention of her work, which centres on prejudices faced by the least disadvantaged Aboriginals. As a fair-skinned person her assertion of Aboriginality through the medium of blackface is without humility. The lasting impression of this work is of an astonishing blindness.

    I understand that Ms Cole has forgiven Andrew Bolt. Perhaps it is time for her to give Dallas Scott the chance to forgive her?

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  8. Fantastically articulate, honest and direct, not too mention a fierce advocate of free expression. It makes me very proud to know we have an Australian writer with the same courageous streak as people like George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens...thank you Sir!

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