07 April 2008

One of the great ice-breakers when you're in a new country, is meeting people who have also been to your country. I started a new job this week, and an email went out before i arrived to let everyone know i was starting, and that i was from Melbourne. Pretty much the only people who have bothered to talk to me this week are those who have been to Melbourne, and who want me to know how drunk they got in Melbourne, that one time. And i mean, it's fairly naff... but that's cool.. whatever.

Interestingly, in my experience so far, after people have told me how drunk they got, and where (including a truly inspired anecdote of sorts), the topic of conversation can often lead to Aboriginal people. And i cringe, anticipating the direction things are heading.

I don't profess to know shit about shit, but i know that the perception of Australia is not great in regards to the treatment of Aboriginal people, and more often than not, the people i've come across will have some ill-informed opinion on the topic themselves, because they saw 'one' that time, as though the whole concept of our Indigenous people is one giant tourist attraction. I realise that Australia is not alone in this, (and yes, i did go and see a Navajo reservation when i was in America), but it really doesn't sit with me, this attitude towards Aboriginal people. Maybe i'm over-sensitive, but vast generalisations about how 'our government doesn't want 'them' living with 'normal' people' really get right up my arse, and i am reminded about what a shameful history Australia has had, and also how segregated Aboriginal people have been to the point where any sort of influence or even education to some extent, has been kinda absent from my life.

While i'm excited about our new government, i really find it had to try justify that the reconciliation process is under way, changes are happening and progress is being made... It's hard to try to instill any sort of respect towards Aboriginal people when Australia's history has been so rich with out-right ignorance and neglect.

It's just one topic that i really don't like hearing people who have had limited experience with Aboriginal people, or knowledge of the topic, wax lyrical about. I figure if i don't know shit about shit, then it's unlikely someone who isn't Australian and felt the shame of being Australian, at times, in particular with regards to the plight of Aboriginal people, will know shit about, either. So i really don't want to hear their opinions, in this instance.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree - it is dreadful to hear how 'seeing 1' Aboriginal person quickly transforms into 'all of them must be the same' comments. Isn't this just a new shape for racism? Assumptions and generalisations..

non-Blondie said...

So many English people have tried to tell me their opinions on that, and I just say "yep, just carrying on the policies you created when you approached them as animals and killed and cheated them out of their land. You know, just like you've done in every country you've colonised".

Of course this doesn't actually address the real issues behind it, or how I feel about the treatment of Aborigines in Australia and the reconciliation process, but it does make them shut the F*** up about shit they don't understand.

dot said...

it sometimes seems that if people don't have something negetive or rascist to say about Aboriginal people and the cross-cultual experience then they have nothing to say at all.

however, there are a lot of good ideas, great communities and cultural integrity in Aboriginal Australia... and if international tourists come away with a bad impression then i reckon that's because they are narrow-minded fools who can't see past their pre-conceived bigoted ideas after they experienced Australia through looking out the window of their bus on a hold-your-hand 'outback' adventure tour!!!!!

sublime-ation said...

as though the whole concept of our Indigenous people is one giant tourist attraction.

You know what I hate? Bloody tourists complaining about not seeing an Aboriginal person in Melbourne.
Often when there's one a couple of meters away.
What's with that?