Being relatively low on cash means no regular access to the Internet at home in lieu of things like having a roof over our heads, being able to eat healthy and nutritious food, buying train tickets to and from work, etc. This in turn means that I post less, although I did get a wagging finger about not posting more from a kind-of-secret-admirer on a recent trip to Sydney, so I’m back to blogging when I can through my mobile phone. Desperate times do call for desperate measures! I’m also back on facebook, but instantly remembering why I chose to go off in the first place. Anyway, Australia Day (often referred to by ATSI Australians as Survival Day or Invasion Day) happened yesterday and boy was it a sh*t fight! Here are some of my reflections:
In the lead up to Invasion Day there was quite a bit of facebook activity, particularly from the blackfellas I know. I’ve gotta say that most of it was quite sad, angry, upset – there continues to be a lot of unresolved grief related to the original invasion of our continent on 26 January 1788.
I think sometimes it’s quite easy to not understand this anger, sadness and despair when you hold a particular privelege and do not appropriately acknowledge that privilege, and so I have conversely seen quite a lot of posts on facebook and comments around the place, calling for our people to essentially move on and either join the celebrations or celebrate our survival (this is from both Blacks and whites).
Whilst I acknowledge that celebrating our survival is a good thing, I don’t think it is particularly helpful to tell a grieving people that this is what they HAVE to do – first and foremost it is EXTREMELY dismissive of our grief and the ongoing ramifications of that grief, which manifests itself in the gross disadvantage you see in Indigenous Australian communities today. I also think that dismissing the grief and advising people to celebrate survival is a moot point when the rest of the nation continues to celebrate it’s national holiday on the day the continent was violently invaded, to the detriment of it’s First Peoples – the day should be moved and we as a people should never give up calling and protesting for a change of date.
I guess, really, what I want to say to all the people who are saying to blackfellas that they should get over being angry or just embrace Australia Day (this is aimed at those who are ATSI and also those who claim to support ATSI struggles for justice) is to STOP COMPROMISING. It’s like giving in! Our anger is being judged by a standard that the Invaders have set for us and we are being found lacking. Well, why don’t we set our own parameters?? I say it’s okay to get angry about Australia Day, I say that it is okay to call for the date to be changed, to remember the wrongs – if we don’t maintain the fight and remember the wrong, how will we ever know if we are moving forward from it?
In my opinion, when you compromise like that, when Blackfellas and those supposedly on ‘our side’ say to celebrate whatever you want and join in Australia Day it allows the flexibility to have those who are just waiting for the opportunity to oppress us more, do so. Those insidious racists and right wingers use your words to justify their rationale for keeping Australia Day on the day of invasion. They use your compromise to continue to not take seriously Indigenous calls for treaty, sovereignty and a better quality of life, and that my friends IS WRONG. Further, I feel like by compromising like this it not only allows people to dismiss the real struggles, but it also allows people to over-simplify the issues at hand. Whilst everyone can sit around and talk on their facebook about race relations in this country, or use Australia Day as the only day to make a comment about injustice, I would like to see more people actually put their money where their mouth is (so to speak). DO SOMETHING, like ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING – don’t be lazy, don’t compromise! Look at your privelege in this country and realise that if you aren’t on the bottom of the heap then you do ‘live off the backs of Blacks’ (as my father would have put it).
And with that, I want to post up this video. Firstly, because it is from a brother whom I respect for his courage and ability to not only speak out, but to put those words and thoughts in to REAL ACTION – and secondly, because it explains why Australia’s national holiday should be moved to a different date.