Before I was fourteen I spent nearly two years of my life in apartheid era South Africa, and more recently I spent eight years in Dubbo at around the time white authorities were bulldozing the primarily aboriginal suburb of Gordon Estate. I guess I’ve witnessed some of the worst excesses of racism.
Born white in Africa has its own baggage and I know what it’s like to be surrounded by those convinced about the eminent superiority of everything about their culture and worldview. I also had my own moment of epiphany when fifteen and reading the opening chapters of Alex Haley’s Roots and realising Black Africa had a lot to commend it that wasn’t always apparent in Western society.
Race relations in Australia have flared up again in the last week, inevitably connected to the inappropriateness of Australia Day as a National holiday, something I touched on last week before all hell broke loose.
In the wake of last week’s protests the aboriginal “father of reconciliation” Patrick Dodson had some interesting comments to make about white/black relations in Australia. In particular he suggested that “If there was any parallel with Gandhi’s wish to ”get the Empire out of India”, it would be to displace the rule of the public service from Aboriginal people’s lives so they could express indigenous values that existed in Australia before the British arrived”.
At the same time I’m reading a book entitled “Tall Man” about the death in custody of aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee and the inquests and court trials of the arresting officer Chris Hurley. The book paints a grim picture of both white and black Australia.
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