Monday, 5 March 2012

Have I upset you?

Does it hurt to see the ugly side of dissent?

I can think of two individuals who are currently working their blood pressure meds playing a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Arbiter of Mob Justice /Almighty Retribution because of the comments I have made in my blog.  

Do I hate all people with white skin and Indigenous ancestry? 
 
The answer to the this question, would be no.  I am lucky to have a white skinned son, whom I absolutely adore.  I also have a beautiful white wife, who I love unconditionally.  I am also blessed to have two white step sons.  I passed on only my skin colour to my daughter, my sons twin.  I'm not a religious man, but I say a silent prayer nearly every day that the world will be kind to her, that she won't have to suffer the horrible side of being 'coloured' as my not so learned friend once referred to it as.  Truth is, when you're noticeably Aboriginal, people in the world can be pretty damn unkind.  The best part?  You don't even have to have done something wrong.

I consider myself a lucky blackfella.  I have an education, the ultimate tool to a better life.  I grew up in foster care (I was placed willingly, not stolen and I thanked my father through tears a few days ago for making the choice he did) with wonderful foster parents who enabled me to stay connected to my family and culture. 


That's me on the right, my big brother on the left and if you need help on your Victorian Elders, in the middle is my paternal Great Grandmother Thelma Carter.

I am the only one still living of the three. 

It has been suggested that I am bitter.  Twisted even.  I am bitter that my brother is gone.  He was incredibly talented at so many things.  I looked up to him, and he would always look out for me.  Man, we had some times together growing up.  But people in my family have a bad habit of not living very long.  Although Nan was the exception to this rule, when this photo was taken, my Grandmother and Grandfather had already passed away.   My brother made it to the ripe old age of 38. 

Am I bitter and twisted?  Probably.  I should really get over the fact that while we're patting ourselves on the backs that we have our first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar, we have annoying news reports of suicides of young children trying to steal focus. 

Where is the gap exactly?

What we need is to direct more funding based on need, not heritage.  When we have black Australians graduating from degrees at the same rate as white skinned Australians, when a Yolgnu child has the same access to education and assistance as my own children, when blacks are afforded the same treatment as whites, I'll believe the hype that we're closing the gap.  That those who need the most, are treated first.  If anyone has a problem with that, you are a traitor to the race you claim to be from.  When you can sit by and watch your own people be treated poorly, when you have kids that are going hungry, being abused, killing themselves for chrissakes, do you still believe YOU need that hand up?  When the Universities wake up and realise that there are so few black faces coming through because so few of us are getting even half the education a white child in this country gets, then we'll see the targets shifted. 

You see, before you apply for a University scholarship, you have to have done pretty well in school.  From Primary School, through to High School, all the way to Year 12.  How many black skinned Aboriginal people do you know that have a Year 12 pass?  Let me guess...the percentage is dismally low compared to your white skinned friends, of any ancestry. 

Why aren't we angry about that?  Why on earth wouldn't we want to fix that?

What is so wrong with asking - is this money that could and should be better spent elsewhere?  Is it so wrong to think that the middle class Aboriginals have lost their way a little.  So intent on catching up to the white mans upper class and entrenching themselves there that they don't realise they've just opened an even bigger gap between them and their poorer cousins? 


My black, white and brindle brothers and sisters, we have to take a good hard look at ourselves and face up to a few realities.  We've created a gulf in our minority group of Indigenous Australians.  Just like white society, we have the Aboriginal haves and the Aboriginal have-nots.  Heck, we even have our own middle class. The lack of black faces coming through universities and excelling in school is quickly forgotten when we have no shortage of fair, urban living counterparts to happily sit in their place instead.  We make no distinction nor apply any sort of moral test to what is happening, for fear of causing offence. 

Imagine you have ten people fishing at a waterhole.  All of them need to catch fish, it is the only available sustenance on my imaginary island.  Two of the men own a boat and several nets, so are able to catch quite a haul, feeding their families and selling the excess for a tidy profit, enabling them to continually buy newer boats, better nets, and live a very comfortable life.  Five of the men own top of the line fishing rods, and, while they have to work for a few hours at their task, they too will catch enough fish to feed their families for several days, and when the weather is very favourable, they too make a small profit from their bumper catch.  The final three people do not own fishing rods, or nets.  It takes them the entire day to catch enough food to sustain their family for that one 24 hour period when there is good weather.  In bad weather, they eat what they can catch but it is never enough and they often suffer from malnutrition.  When the government decides to intervene, and provide fishing rods and fishing lessons to the three poorer fishermen, an uproar ensues.  The men from the boats are angry.  They are fishermen as well, and if the government is handing out free fishing rods, they want to be able to decide who gets them and manage the entire handout operation (for a small fee, of course).  The men with the boats have considerable clout within the government (they can afford to send donations to sympathetic politicians in hope of favourable treatment, socialise on occasion with some high ranking officials and the like), so this option is touted as the most likely way of handling the fishing rod distribution after the uproar dies down.  The Five men who already have fishing rods decide to weigh into the discussion when they realise those rods being given for free by the government are a little better than their own.  They believe the government should help all fishermen, and if those poorer fishermen just worked harder/longer/better/faster, they wouldn't need a free rod.  Free market economy and all that jazz. 

In the end, the government distributes six fishing rods.  Two to the men from the boats, which lay unused and are eventually sold for far less that their worth.  The remaining four are given to the five fishermen who already have rods - to squabble over and distribute amongst themselves.  They feel disenfranchised, and resentment builds between the five fishermen and the government, the boat owners, even one another.

The Three remaining fishermen carry on unaware of the whole unfolding free rod debarcle, as they have little time but to run the hamster wheel of survival.

If you're the corrupt CEO of a large Aboriginal corporation, you're the guy in one of the boats.   Yes, you're all fishermen, but on very different standings and with very different lives. 

I may be idealistic, but, one day, I'd like to see a woman from Hermannsburg  hit the news after releasing her first novel.  A woman who'd overcome obstacles (be it domestic violence, drug or alcohol use, loss of family) received funding and help she needed (and lets face it, we all go to sleep wanting to believe that actually happens) and now she has blossomed with a promising career she has real talent for.  Then I'd like to see a man do a similar thing.  And then another, then dozens, then hundreds (in all career paths, doctors, lawyers, scientists, builders, artists, business owners) of black, disadvantaged Australians that we all are well aware exist. 

Although it is deemed a crime in the eyes of some, I want a black role model to look up to.  The more good, respectful, intelligent, wise black men we have participating in our society at every level, the better.  Although it seems to cause great offence to hear, I will not apologise when I say that I cannot emulate a white man.  Overcoming entrenched racism is something that unless you are black, you only experience as an aftershock.  You were teased because your father/mother/grandmother is black?  Wow, imagine actually, well, being black! 

You'll have to forgive me if I won't ignore the reality of White Privilege.  A fact constantly overlooked it seems by so many.  Keep carrying your invisible knapsack though, and I'll look the other way and snigger a little when you keep telling me you know what its like to be black. 

Note for my cyber fans (WQ, JK) : -We have so few Aboriginal voices in this country.  I am not going to stop writing my blog (when the mood strikes me of course) because for every whiny detractor who has posted about me on their Facebook page, I've had support, strength and well wishes from ten more.  A tide, one day, shall turn...

4 comments:

  1. Dallas please keep writing. Perhaps you could that 'role model' that most of us are looking for.

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  2. sorry I forgot to sign it
    Jason B King

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  3. Any action, affirmative or negative, taken/promoted/promulgated according to race is racism.

    I'm pleased to read your blog and hope that sense prevails.

    Those who need assistance, a hand up, no matter what their ethnic make up (as long as they're Australian - for it begins at home), should receive it.

    A lot of statistics on aboriginal health and so on are skewed by these suddenly aboriginal people, many of whom have not had any disadvantage due to their proximity to cities and all the conveniences of proximity to health and education that cities provide. I hope it's not for the racism/name calling that some received at school that these compensations are meted out - I am a fair skinned red-head and copped my share of taunts and unkindness at school for that. If the affirmative action is due to experiences of racism can I ask when the compensation will end? Where is the line drawn?

    When I was in primary school I think there were a few aboriginal children, but I was brought up colour blind. I hope I still am.

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  4. It will turn. Don't stop writing.

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