Aboriginality, apparently, can be equated to a popular beverage.
But the analogy currently doing the traps is disingenuous. A lot of the rhetoric like this is, but if you dig a little deeper on most of what is spouted, you may find that rather that support the claims of the offended, they only illustrate the opposite.
So, let’s take one of my personal favourites on a spin. The old ‘Cup of Coffee’ analogy. It usually goes something like this:-
“You aren’t really Aboriginal, you look White?”
“I am too Aboriginal. It’s like Coffee, you don’t stop calling it Coffee just because you put some Milk in it!”
Sounds dandy. But it’s bullshit. And here is why they use the analogy. It is simple, short and invites you not to think. A puzzling conundrum seemingly solved by a pearl of wisdom passed down over time should ring alarm bells to any thinking person, but in an age where we discourage enquiring and questioning minds, it seems such platitudes are happily accepted as intellectual fact without any scrutiny.
Does the Coffee analogy meet the standard? No. It lazily skips over current and past knowledge to achieve a result that was desired and forced from the outset. It also fails the ‘word replacement’ test. It is a test I made up myself, but anyone can use it. All you do is take the comment, place it in its full context and replace the words in question in the appropriate places to see if it makes as much sense once you’ve got all the facts.
I’ll do that now for the Coffee analogy:-
For tens of thousands of years, there was only Coffee on a large island. A few hundred years ago, ships began arriving that contained Milk. At first, the Milk did not want to mix with the Coffee, and in the early years after the arrival of Milk, at one point it was decided that the island should get rid of Coffee, and switch to Milk. Milk became the preferred drink, and sanctions and punishments of all kinds were placed on Coffee for more than a hundred years. Over time, however, attitudes toward Coffee began to slowly change. Far from being inferior, perhaps Coffee was an equal beverage to Milk?
Milk and Coffee mixing sanctions were removed, and in an effort to undo the harm that the previous sanctions had placed on Coffee – more than a hundred years labelled an inferior beverage has to stick – some preferential treatment was rolled out for Coffee. Despite the removal of the sanctions against it, it was still struggling. Sure, people in the cities were starting to have a little Coffee from time to time, but they seemed to overwhelmingly reject Coffee alone, opting instead to have a blend of the two, when allowed to choose for themselves. Coffee became relegated mostly to the poor areas, and looked down upon despite no longer being legislated as a second class beverage.
Some of the Milk decided to introduce pro-Coffee legislation, in an effort to help bring about equality between the lagging Coffee and the outperforming by comparison Milk. Taxes that were dutifully collected from all were pooled and Billions allocated to address the problem. The reforms were passed, and people were given money to drink more Coffee. Coffee needed to be in Universities! Hospitals! Schools! Having Coffee around had to be normalised, if equality could ever hope to be achieved.
At the same time, it was decided that a definition of what Coffee actually was would need to be decided upon. It seemed an easy task, but there was an outcry from the city dwellers. They were drinking Coffee, and although it was not without Milk, it contained Coffee, and this should count. There was a history of Coffee and Milk mixing for some time, and the resultant combination was being just as hard done by as Coffee alone. The pro-Coffee economic reforms needed to help mixed beverages as well, as they saw themselves as fundamentally no different from Coffee. Arguments were put forth that some of the mixed beverages had a large amount of Coffee as opposed to Milk, and lived in poor areas where there was mostly just Coffee. They also experienced discriminatory attitudes as some of the Milk saw them as ‘tainted’ by Coffee. A vocal number of mixed beverages did not see themselves as a mixture of Coffee and Milk, but rather, Coffee alone. Other mixed beverages did not see themselves as Coffee, but rather Milk, and did not want to be forced to identify as Coffee. Complicating matters was the Billions of dollars in assistance for Coffee on the table, and the mixed beverages had support and numbers. The mixed beverages, it was decided, would be considered Coffee, but only if they wanted to be.
Big companies began to commit to drinking a certain percentage of Coffee every day, and so did the Government, Hospitals and Universities. But things still just weren’t going well for a large percentage of the Coffee, despite all the investment and legislation and money spent. Coffee when mixed with Milk had found a real niche, and found a far greater acceptance among the Milk. So accepted in fact, that the numbers of Coffee that were mixed with Milk outnumbered the Coffee almost 5 to 1, and were almost commonplace by the turn of the last century. Much of the Coffee noticed this, but the mixed beverages had more power and sway than them, and had lobbied to be included and thought of as Coffee the same as them years ago. Most were fond of mixed beverages, so speaking in a way construed negative to them was something they avoided. So the Coffee sat and suffered in silence instead, for a few more years.
Around the same time, a new concept emerged called “Coffee Snobbery”. Used to describe the oppression and poor treatment historically and ongoing towards Coffee, very little of the Milk doubted that Coffee Snobbery did exist. A documented history of Coffee being seen as inferior on the island supported that fact, together with horrific examples of injustices done to Coffee over the years, coupled with the ongoing poor conditions for the Coffee in remote areas where they were largely grouped and dumped away from the mixed beverage and Milk areas back in the unenlightened days all supported this notion. Coffee Snobbery was both officially and unofficially declared a crime.
A trend began to emerge among the mixed beverage population. More and more they claimed to be the victims of Coffee Snobs, and what constituted Coffee Snobbery became harder and harder to define. This all went largely unnoticed, until some Milk questioned why Coffee statistics were so poor, and so little money ended up going to help the Coffee it was supposed to. After doing a little research, the renegade Milk noticed that Coffee assistance was continually going to mixed beverages in an extremely uneven flow. The Milk began to question whether the pro-Coffee reforms were benefitting Coffee at all, and made mention of several instances of pro-Coffee assistance going to mixed beverages that were indistinguishable from Milk.
This enraged some of the mixed beverages, whose actions had been largely, up until that point, unnoticed. They felt that the Milk in question had committed a crime against them, and the Milk was in fact nothing more than a Coffee Snob who was trying to skirt the laws. They were allowed to be classed as Coffee, and although they begrudgingly accepted they contained Milk, they identified themselves as Coffee and should be allowed to benefit from pro-Coffee reforms. When the Milk continued to question the laws surrounding Coffee definitions, things began to get ugly. Anyone who made any mention of the content of Milk in a mixed beverage was threatened with punishment under the law, and it didn’t take long for a case to be brought before the courts.
It ended up being one of the most divisive cases for the island in some time. The accused maintained that he was not a Coffee Snob, but was agitating for change to a system that was leaving large portions of Coffee without any assistance. A proponent of the “We’re all Beverages, why can’t we get along” camp, he didn’t deny the problems facing Coffee, but he just didn’t think they were being helped by the policy of defining mixed beverages and Coffee as the same. It was helping mixed beverages, but was overwhelmingly unhelpful towards Coffee, who didn’t have the same access to the benefits of positive reforms as many mixed beverages did. The Coffee reforms were doing little to help Coffee, it had become an undisputed fact often lamented about in the media, but a fact few ever wanted to find a solution for. It was too touchy a subject to go near in any depth, because to do so meant you had to discuss the mixed beverage issue, and that was clearly off-limits. At least for now.
I wonder if I will ever hear the word ‘Latte’ again and not have a little chuckle inside after this effort.
People are free to use whatever analogy they wish to simplify their circumstances and belittle the point of another. I believe, at least for the time being, I am free to continue to call bullshit when they do so.