Monday, 13 August 2012

Insight - that Aboriginality show

Now that the dust has settled a little after the airing of the show, I'm ready to once again throw my 2c into the mix.

When I was approached to do the piece with Insight, what initially made the offer attractive was the chance to have an open debate on the issue.  The part that sealed the deal was knowing I would get to hear arguments on both sides.  For so long now I've been waiting for that opinion or some wise words that will let me finally understand where 'the other side' is coming from.  I've heard it all from the 'coffee in a cup' argument to the 'it's a spiritual thing' spin.  Unfortunately, nothing I heard that night changed my mind.

What I did witness was an amazing display.  I watched young, white identifiers roundly proclaim their connection to, and knowledge of, their 'culture', then turn around not five minutes later and abuse Aboriginal culture by speaking over an Elder.   I don't know what this mystical 'culture' is that these identifiers are on about, but if they were hoping to display an innate understanding of Aboriginal culture that night, then they missed the mark by a mile.

Once upon a time, the paler activists were an asset to the Aboriginal cause.  Now, they have become a liability.  Sprouting bullshit such as 'our white skin is a result of the rape of the colonisers', they are no longer laughable and tolerable in small doses - they are promoting a view of life that just continues to perpetuate the victim mentality and does their cause no favours.  When you point out to them that their identifying side of the family have continued to choose to marry white people willingly for longer than their living lifetime, and not as part of some forced assimilation program, you will be met with astonishment or indignation.  They don't like the facts getting in the way of a good catchphrase, and it is this sort of lazy indignation that has to go. 

The other reason the pale activists are well past their use-by-date is their lack of caring for the big issues.  Where once upon a time they used their skills to assist at the grassroots and their voices to advocate and agitate through media for equality and basic human rights for suffering blacks, their voices have now become self serving and narrow to their own interests - be it Native Title, Arts Funding or whatever their pet passion is in the Industry.  It was hard not to become enraged when bringing up the living conditions of some of the children on missions or in remote communities, only to have the subject changed time and time again to a pet passion topic.  I thought people would say 'oh my god, I had no idea this was going on'.  I mean, the reason they've ignored it so long in favour of things like Treaties and Land Rights was surely because they were just unaware, right?  Turns out instead, they don't want to hear about it.  Their racial identity and support of that is far more important than some kids, far away from their circle in a place like the N.T having a sexually transmitted disease at 5. 

Over and over again in the last few weeks I've heard so many people asking the same question.  Where are these so-called benefits?  As if their ignorance of the facts or reluctance to take up said benefits is proof absolute that there is no so called 'benefits in identifying'.  While it is true that simply being granted your Proof of Aboriginality does not give you immediate financial benefits or access to a magical payment stream, that does not take away from the fact that every year, $3.5 billion in Government funding is disappearing under the guise of race based benefits available only to Aboriginal people.  That doesn't include the privately funded Scholarships or initiatives that target race specific disadvantage, which I won't even attempt to put a dollar figure on.  Where are the benefits?  Everywhere.  If you want to paint a picture or write a book or travel to somewhere arty, try the various race specific awards, or the Arts Council for big chunks of money like Anita got for her book.  Don't stress about some poor black from out bush coming in to steal away a share of it either.  The Industry has done a brilliant job of keeping the poor ones poor and out of sight, mostly illiterate and uninterested in what they are missing out on, so it is exceptionally rare for someone like that to even attempt to get in on the goodies.  What they all learnt a long time ago is that for the funding tap to stay on, a certain number of Aboriginal people have to be suffering.  Nothing turns the tap on harder than starving or dying kids, so each year, we have to make sure that there is another sad story to achieve our goals.  We don't ask that your family suffer, only those already doing it tough.

Scholarship discussion on the show was where things became quite interesting.  I had one very educated fellow pointing out the extreme disadvantage of some of the people he had worked with on Aboriginal scholarships.  They had suffered such horrendous race based disadvantage like - coming from a single parent family, or living in a small outback town - such discrimination based on their race meant that these opportunities given to them were well deserved, and without question, they are the most needy of Aboriginal children.  The other great thing about so many of these scholarship recipients, we were told, was the fact that such a high percentage of them go back and work in the community.  How great does that sound?  Pretty good, until you realise that what you're thinking a 'community' is - well, that's not really what they had in mind.  I mean, Liverpool is a community, right?  Canberra is also a community isn't it?  Maybe not ones full of black Aboriginal kids with bloated stomachs and weeks old sores on their arms and legs, but it is a community.  Not the progress we were all thinking of, but nevermind.  The only ones we're ripping off are the kids who live in conditions not fit for a dog, and since they aren't getting on social media sites to tell their stories, they apparently don't exist and therefore are not worthy of attention, discussion or adequate funding.

I remember Bess Price once saying 'I want what she has for my children' with regard to Larissa Behrendt and her life of comparable privilege.  Instead of people reaching out and offering help, or asking why it is that her children have a life that is polar opposite to someone like Larissa, people instead chose to vilify Bess for her words.  They took that very privilege they have been given, their superior educations given to them in the name of progress for the very people Bess represents, and used it to try to rip her to shreds in the media.  Labelled in this last week or so as a 'grub' by one, a 'simple minded blackfella' by another, time and time again I watched as people who demanded respect for their identity resorted to shameful personal attacks on a woman whose only crime was to speak her mind and disagree with their point of view.   It came as no surprise that Chris Graham, of the 'grub' comment fame, was not only spared negative widespread coverage of his behaviour, but in addition, at no point was his job working for a publication of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council ever under threat because he expressed such an opinion. It's no wonder so many people are confused about what they can and can't say these days. 

For anyone who was wondering, I did get a cab that night in the end.  SBS had some really great staff who made sure that I'd have to eat my words on that one - they even managed to get a driver who didn't take the long way when he knew I hadn't been to Sydney in 15 years, turned out to be a really top bloke too.

42 comments:

  1. Once again you have cut to the quick of the matter BST. I was appalled at the lack of respect shown to Bess Price, considering she was the only bonafide full blood elder in the room. Considering how many supposedly well educated people were in the audience I was quite surprised no one pointed out a very basic fact. Culture is not the same as family history. These poor young things have been told stories about how gran and her sisters lived on a mission decades ago and how they originally came from such and such a tribe. This then equates to living "The Culture" and in all their education they apparently never looked up the actual definition of culture. Presumably also, no one has told them that culture is not something you are born with, its the way you live your life. It's the language you speak, the food you eat, the type of dwelling you live in, the clothes you wear, the events you celebrate. Fortunately, I think that program did not do these people any favours, in fact quite the reverse. As pointed out by the young lady who wanted a certificate of aboriginality in case she couldn't make the mainstream cut, these days it's not a case of "Cherchez La Femme"it's obviously "Cherchez L'Árgent" when it comes to indiginous affairs.

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  2. Love the blog. Thank you very much for taking the time to write your thoughts down.

    I don't normally watch SBS, but did so because I found out that you would be on it. It was a good show, but I was a little disappointed on one point. Comment was made from people in the audience (twice I think) about there being people who claim to be Aboriginal who, in fact, are not. I would have liked to see that point explored a little further. Why would someone do that? To me, the answer is simple. To gain a benefit that they would not ordinarily be entitled to. This is why average Aussies are sceptical of people with white skin claiming to be Aboriginal.

    Unfortunately it is too easy to shut down debate by simply claiming that the other side is 'racist'.

    Thanks BST.

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  3. This is amazing Dallas. Keep up the good work.

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  4. Ever thought of standing for office Dallas where you could actually practise what you preach? And I dont mean a Labor, Liberal or Green ticket either who have proven time and time again to be so far removed from the reality of the true situation. Check out our website The Australian Protectionist Party. We're only just getting started and we'd love to have you on board!

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  5. Dallas
    I'm just an ordinary Aussie bloke how can I help?

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    1. Me too Dallas. What can we ordinary Aussie blokes do to help?

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  6. You're an inspiration Dallas! Your writing on this vexed subject is fantastic and thank goodness it's being linked by other bloggers. It's time someone like you was given a platform to speak the Truth.Money is what has made these opportunists reach for one strand of their heritage and the sooner we have an open and transparent debate about the proper distribution of it, the better.You were wonderful on SBS and even though you found it disheartening, I know you have made a huge impression on many reasonable Australians!!Don't give up!!

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  7. Well written once again BST. While discussing this the other day one of the kids jumped in with "why aren't we all treated the same." As simple as it sounds, until our laws and Government bodies do it racism exists.

    Great work.

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  8. Dallas - keep going! Hold them to account. Despite your point (and Bess Price, Prof Dillon and others) that support must be needs based, too many people in the audience thought their need was greater. They were "hurt" by not being black enough, by being discriminated against because they were not being discriminated against. A faux victim seeking redress.

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  9. Dallas. I very much admire your intelligent analysis of the issue, and even more so your courage in standing up and stating the truth. It is high time that those pretenders are held to account.

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  10. Keep powering on BST, you and Bess are just what all Austalians need right now, a consistant dose of common sense to identify real needs of the disadvantaged not just percieved needs of the hangers on. Thanks mate you make me proud to be an Australian.I aknowledge my full blood heritage but it doesn't mean i should be given extra privlidge when I don't need it.

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  11. Dallas, you and Bess and others have our full admiration and respect for what you're doing.
    I'm about as white as you can get, there is no Aboriginal blood in my family, and I have no idea what it's like to grow up with that level of societal discrimination.
    What I do know is that I've lived in small outback towns, where the indigenous kids attended school sporadically, nearly all had FAS, had to be given breakfast and lunch by the school or they wouldn't eat for the day, and where many were being raised by grandparents because their parents were in jail, dead or unfit to raise kids.
    The level of discrimination against kids who are being deprived of almost every basic human right is appalling. I can't understand how they can continue to take that money, and I applaud you for speaking out, against what must be very disheartening and hurtful reactions.

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  12. Please provide a “donate” button, or list somewhere on site some appropriate account numbers for donations.

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  13. My wife and I only watched this program because you were on it. (We read your blog)
    Australians want to feel proud of the aboriginals but the opportunists giving a negative impression sometimes ruin it for the rest.
    Watching this program made us feel very very proud of you, Bess Price and a few of the others on the program who spoke truth.

    It is great that so many are now proud of their aboriginal heritage, just as I am proud of my English, Irish, Swiss and Scottish heritage, and my wife is proud of her Maltese full blood background.
    When we have visited our countries of heritage we have felt a connection as it has taught us where we have come from. But we identify as Australian and are probably more proud of our Australian culture and heritage than before visiting.

    One day the Irish may sue the English for what Cromwell may have done to the Irish 350 years ago, and the English may agree to pay the Irish an amount to raise the living standards of those in public housing so they can move to private housing. Am I now an Englishman who pays or an Irishman who receives? I think the question should be am I able to assist or do I need assistance?

    If I had some minor aboriginal heritage I am sure I would be proud of it as well, but it would not make me aboriginal any more than the fact that my great grandfather being from Switzerland makes me Swiss. And I am sure that I would not try and take the benefits of those who are truly in need by taking advantage of some feeble claim.

    Let's help the ones who are in need.

    You and others like Bess Price are capable of great things; many are listening to and reading your wisdom.

    Thanks for the truth.

    Aussie Couple

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    1. As another ordinary Aussie bloke, thank you Morant, thank you Dallas. " this is the heart of the man" Robert Plant. Also "turn on your love light, shine it all around"
      All around.
      What a wonderful blog.
      Ron Robertson.

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  14. You are absolutely the bees knees in this upside-down loony world we live in.

    Keep it up and I'd also like to donate to the site if there's a way.

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  16. Hi, I came to your blog via Andrew Bolt and so watched "that" SBS show also.

    Not only were you the ONE on that panel whose intelligence simply shone brightly to anyone half-way decent, you also look extremely handsome:)

    Since the camera seems to love you, I hope we will see and hear much much much more of you on TV, people will listen to you.

    They way the REAL aboriginal people were treated on this show by the opportunistic wannabe aboriginals, who gang rape free speech in this country, was disgusting. I am glad that you, the delightful Bess Price and a few brave others spoke up - and did so brilliantly. Even with that great sense of humor.

    Your line about the Taxi was the master stroke - it really hit home and was worth a thousand written academic whines from the opportunistic wannabe victimologists.

    I salute you!

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  17. Excellent article. Cuts to the chase.

    I wish that I were free to comment.

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  18. BST you are a legend. I agree with everything you have written so well. I also agree with the positive sentiments of all the comments on the blog.
    Would love to see people like you and Bess representing the needs of aboriginals in this country. If the billions spent by governments were better direceted and not hijacked by the "industry of white pretenders" then I am sure the lot of indigenous people would be much improved! Keep up the fantastic work!!!!!!!!!!

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  19. Glad you got the taxi, Dallas.

    My heartfelt support and admiration.

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  20. Thank you Dallas, my wife and I are very pleased to here your voice and read your words in the Public Arena.

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  21. Dallas, if the boffins nominate you some time for Australian Of The Year, you'll get my vote!

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  22. Dallas, you truly shone out on Insight.

    If you are interested in teaching children the three "Rs" so that they are around yr 6 standard in two years, I can point you to a methodology that does the trick. All it takes is about one hour a day. Any 4yr old can achieve yr 6 standard by the time they are 6yrs of age.

    Once children can write well, spell well, read fearlessly, add, subtract, multiply, divide sums up to four digits, they have the tools with which to learn concepts and apply knowledge. Imagine what this would do for the esteem of the disadvantaged.

    If interested contact me happyriches@gmail.com.

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  23. Well said. Pity I'm the wrong colour otherwise I'd say more.

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    1. So am I but it never stops me!

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    2. You owe me a new keyboard Big Nana, I read "so am I but it never stops me!"
      Never burst into laughter with a mouth full of stuff.
      As others here have said, cut to the chase!
      Are we all just people, or not.
      My feeling is that Dallas, (and you Big Nana), have started something.
      God Bless you.
      Ron.

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  24. Thanks Dallas for telling it as it is, I think by now people are beginning to understand how big this issues is.

    Dallas, after tens years research there exists enough evidence to warrant a Royal Commission and i am only referring to Tasmania.

    Please keep perusing the issue as there are a great many supporters out there willing to put the Government on notice. If I am able to assist in any way do not hesitate to contact me.

    Tony W Brown
    Cape Barren Islander

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  25. Well done, BST! Keep thinking, keep writing, keep fighting.

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  26. Wisdom, knowledge and respect.....

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  27. I really enjoy your writing style - informative and maintains interest!

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  28. Again, a very good article that does what others can not do. I am impressed by the thoughtful way you have made your points with a very dry sense of humour. More please.

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  30. Great article, I agree fully. An interesting take on the victim mentality at the following link. It goes someway to explaining why some want to assume an aboriginal identity.

    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-minority-victim-value-index.html

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  31. Great article! How can we give the kids a voice, how can we get their message on the social media? Shame the rest of us into listening, start a social media awareness amongst the the savy and maybe, just maybe people power will force a change. We need to hear the real story from the ones living it.

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  32. Good Stuff Dallas, I write on some overlapping issues but only (?) as an eighth grade primary scholar and I struggle sometimes. Bess has been abused and defamed on 98.9fm up here in Brisbane re. “that show” and I am following it up. My site is www.whitc.info/ and the bit about Bess is at the bottom of the page ( the newest ). Cheers and back to you soon.
    Arthur Bell.

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  33. Couldn't find a contact address for you, Dallas, so I hope its alright to post this here. I think that Herbert Lovett has been quite hard done by (at least on the surface) and that his son (and other relatives) should be awarded some form of compensation. If you have any more information, I'd love to hear it.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/he-served-in-two-world-wars-but-only-white-soldiers-got-land-a-sons-5m-bill-for-injustice/story-fn59niix-1226460318091

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  35. Loser. While ever you keep that chip on your shoulder bud and forever crying to whitey, you'll always remain a LOSER! Feel free to remove this - as you will. So much for free speech eh?

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  36. Trolls like ROCK are what keeps this country stuck in the WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY days...... Put up who you are ROCK!

    Cheers
    Jason King

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  37. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post
    was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going
    to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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