A Palestinian friend and colleague asked me some months ago if, as an Aboriginal person, I could tell her why Aboriginal people don’t ever just kick everyone else out of Australia and reclaim the continent.
I responded that I didn’t think this was an option and given that it isn’t an option, there is little to no movement for this. Instead there are movements for land rights, sovereignty, “pay the rent” and more.
I guess the reality is, as I explained to my friend, that Aboriginal people are so “in amongst it” that extracting ourselves out to create a distinct state/states is so incredible to fathom that I dont think it is possible. Unlike Palestine there is no way to see a distinct state that people can re-establish and then return to.
We as Aboriginal people are in it, the economics of it, the institutions, the society, everything. We are amongst it, despite the fact that those things often exclude us, degrade us and at times enslave us mentally (and therefore oppress us).
The understanding that this is the situation we as Indigenous people have to negotiate in our ongoing struggle for freedom from oppression is important. It is also important in understanding the psyche of a lot of Indigenous people as well.
This was really brought home to me during dinner with friends recently. We were discussing how some Facebook and Twitter discussions make our blood boil and savagely ruin relationships with those who don’t agree with us (well okay, that was just me).
The discussions that really tick me off though are the ones where people get racist and ignorant. My friend then asked/pointed out “so racism gets your blood boiling more than, say sexism?” (paraphrasing here). And I guess the answer is a resounding yes.
I mean don’t get me wrong, sexism gets up my goat (just ask my husband about the middle of the night heated debate I tried to have with him about sexism in the AFL and then Chris Brown and Rihanna – he was half asleep, I was wide awake fuming), but it doesn’t raise my blood pressure in quite the same way as racism.
I mean, it really does go back to the conversation I had with my Palestinian friend about not being able to “extract”. Indigenous Australians are oppressed and dispossessed in our own land. We live here, but are constantly denied our rights to land, sovereignty, justice and often just the simple dignity that comes from the recognition that there is something very very wrong going on in this country. We didn’t move to anywhere and therefore we don’t have somewhere to return to – Australia is our homeland. We aren’t here temporarily and experience racism as “foreigners”. There is something very unique and distinct about the brand of racism we endure everyday. It is in a word: infuriating.
P.s. I’m wide awake and thinkinggggggg….but you will need to excuse any lack of coherent thought at this time of the morning!