I’m going to admit a few things in this post that I am not so proud of. I’m just warning you about that right now.
For those who don’t know, I was not born and raised in Australia. I was born in one of the USA’s biggest cities and ended up being brought up in a small town that, uh, let’s say hasn’t always been the friendliest when it comes to people from different from my own ethnic group. Thankfully, my parents didn’t push any racist ideas on me. I think that they were maybe a little bit, but they didn’t say much and it was nothing compared to the town around me. It always really made me sick and after I realised there was a whole world out there to explore, I met some really cool people. I will admit that I had “reservations” about meeting some people because I was unfamiliar with their cultures and religions, but once I met them, talked to them, and everything, I started to understand that everybody shares a common bond and there are good people and bad people out there.
Something that I’m not so proud of is how I listened to my ex talk about the Aboriginal people of Australia. I allowed him to “teach” me certain negative stereotypes, and you know something? I believed him. I basically had this automatic negative thinking about people who I had never really gotten to know. I said some really nasty things to other people (not often though) which I really wished I did not say.
Surprisingly, I didn’t learn much about the Aboriginal people until I took my citizenship test. I just didn’t have much exposure to them up to that point. I learned what I had to (and a little more) and passed the test. Years later, as part of my training, I took a class about the Aboriginal people and I really found it to be quite interesting. It pushed me to want to learn more about these fascinating people. It encouraged me to go to museums and really enjoy the artwork. It gave me opportunities to talk to and learn from them. It gave me a very basic overview of how society was before this country was invaded (because I really believe this is what happened). I think about how different things would be if the people who came here were more open-minded and lived in harmony with the people who were already here. I have a better understanding now of what they’ve had to endure for over 200 years and it’s really, really sad. I cannot imagine having someone take me from my mother and father, and bring me somewhere I didn’t know, tell me that my way of life is wrong and force me to change it. That would be incredibly difficult and heart-breaking. (And you know something? It’s still happening today. I’m not lying.)
I find it really depressing and unacceptable that the life span on the Aboriginal people are around 10 years less than they are of non-Aboriginal people. They’re still underrepresented in the government and I think they need people within their culture(s) to help us all work together at least, to lessen the unfair gaps between so many things, life expectancy, income, education, etc. I really believe the oldest culture in the world needs preservation and I know we can learn a lot from them.
I am not an expert in this country’s history and as much as I would love to talk about it here, I don’t think I’m qualified. I do know that the Aboriginal people here have a really rich, interesting, and beautiful culture and I am so ashamed I have let someone influence my thinking about them in a negative way. I don’t expect for my learning process to stop now.
If you’re curious about Australian Aboriginal culture, you can go to the Creative Spirits website. The information there is quite good, but it seems to try to push an eBook on you every page you visit, twice.
There’s really so much to say but I can’t fit everything here. It’s all really interesting. I feel a little bit guilty for that reason.