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    SerenityNow

    Identity is a topic difficult to discuss, as the author Ms Finlay demonstrates in her article above, due to the issues of belonging and the considerable emotional attachment that goes with validation of ones ‘place’ in this world. What appears to be overlooked repeatedly is the damage done by putting the feelings of the individual before all other considerations. I do not know if Bruce Pascoe has legitimate ancestry, but I do know that he has been given a considerable number of opportunities to clarify his claims and has not. This evasiveness has not helped his cause, or the rising notion that as a whole, credibility is a major issue that is desperately in need of a solution.
    Rather than become upset, and equate discussion about a topic that has caused hurt in the past with the unfounded claim that racist practices of the past are the end goal of any person who dares to query a claim (however spurious or laughable) to heritage that is unable to be supported by the available evidence, perhaps it is time to open up discussions in communities across the country to discover and implement a new system for verification of those who are wanting to publicly claim the ability to speak, decide and yes, benefit (to pretend the perks are non-existent is to fool yourself, however small or insignificant or untouched by an individual, who seeks belonging and no profit, they may be) from a claim to be Aboriginal. What we are seeing unfold now is the inevitable ugly discussions that have fermented due to this perceived lack of credibility by the wider Australian population. Who hasn’t heard the stories of free cars? Free housing? Certificates of Aboriginality in exchange for a slab? They don’t die, in large part thanks to the inertia of those who are more worried about changing the legislation regarding land use, than ensuring laws and a system is put in place so that those discussions that are not just important, but also have impact upon an entire group, take place with legitimate spokespeople.
    Would you be happy as an Australian citizen if you were told that Pauline Hanson was currently attending an International Forum and signing declarations committing the country to, well, anything? Of course not. She is unelected to such power and standing, and is unable to provide clear, credible evidence that supports otherwise.
    I do not know about the community that Ms Finlay is connected to, but I am connected to mine and it’s an issue ‘on the ground’ that I am sick of. Sick of seeing those who are not supported by the wider community to make decisions that impact those they purport the right to speak for. Sick of this misdirected anger that is wasting energy that keeps good people downtrodden and in a perpetual victim state. Sick of seeing the suffering of family members ignored and utterly incensed and enraged when others use that trauma to benefit themselves. Whether it’s to take positions of influence or deny a voice to the culturally appropriate community members, or to use the genealogical connection alone to mob (not the same at ALL as connection of living working and following protocol on country or in community) as some sort of evidence of cultural credibility allowing them to do whatever they desire. That’s selfish, and robs the community of more than just money.

    I want to see Aboriginal culture celebrated and embraced by those with even the most distant or tenuous links genealogically. I don’t want to see it further humiliated, degraded or the growing gaps within communities to widen any further. City vs country vs remote, pale vs dark, left vs right, it’s delivered nothing good to any community I know of. I didn’t protest this year, or any other year on the 26th of January. My kids don’t benefit from that. Right now, they need their parents to use the advantages they have been given to ensure that they have it a little better than we did. I would love to see my daughter be the first one to go to University from the family line. She’s very bright, caring and kind and has probably seen more than any 12 year old should have to. We have done our utmost to talk frankly about these things, and nurture compassion and understanding wherever possible instead of encouraging resentment or anger. When confronting a problem is necessary, such as a bully, the way she has grown to handle it is commendable. Kids can be ill-informed, nasty and vocal, but she’s long been taught not to wait for some fictional man wearing leggings and a cape to swoop in and save her. We tried our best to give her all the tools to save herself, and encouraged her to help others who might not yet be as strong. Bitterness is not going to fuel you to get to a better place, and unless we begin to have some frank and open discussions where reasonable debate, rather than emotional rhetoric and insults are how we handle differences of opinion, then we will have to get used to the fractures in our collective “ Indigenous Identity” growing wider, and the trend towards fear as a default response gain further traction. Right now people are afraid to say the wrong thing. What happens when they are tired of being afraid and sick of walking on eggshells?

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