Disclaimer: This story has nothing to do with PR's, but it is very touching. It brings to focus racisim. or more specifically, Racisim toward Aboriginals.


My Dreaming
By Peter Haley

I remember when I was a child there was no such thing as racism, I didn't even know what the word meant. One day I was at home with the flu and a midday movie was on. It was called Mississippi Burning. At first I didn't understand the movie and I couldn't understand why thw white people were so cruel and unfair to the black people.

Later that week, I was in class and an aboriginal lady came and took me out of class. She said her name was Mary and that she was going to help the aboriginal students to read and write better. So twice a week we would all get together and read and talk about how school was going.

One day before we went back to class I asked Mary what an abo was, she asked me where I had heard that. I said that a kid in the playground said it to me, so Mary explained to me about where my people came from and how important we were to the land.

As the years went by I learnt about my people and alot more about racism. But still it didn't matter how much I learnt, I still couldn't understand why people were so racist and hateful.

In year seven I learnt about a man called Martin Luther King, and what he stood for. I learnt that Martin was a very special person, even as a child he was very smart and always stood out from his class. In church he would get up and sing and clap his hands. As a child Martin wanted to be a preacher just like his father was.

In the years to come Martin also found out what racism was, so he decided that things had to change he wanted the white and black people to come together.

He led marches and gave speeches and entered politics, many thought he would be the first black president of America. Racism raised its ugly head again and Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Many young aboriginals have died in this country too in the name of racism. Hundreds die every year in our jails and detention centers. Other aboriginals die from substance abuse and poor health facilities. Some aboriginal communities do not have electricity or clean running water today.

Politicians of this country berate governments of third world countries for the terrible conditions their indigenous people live in, I think that Australian government officials should clean up their own backyard before they start looking in somebody else's.

As we approach the year 2000 the aboriginal community moves into a new struggle for recognition. There are land claims before the courts that will never be closed in favour of their traditional owners, because the government and private industry would lose millions of dollars.

There is also a conflict over one word. 'Sorry'. The Howard government can't seem to bring itself to tell our 'stolen generation' and their families that they are sorry for all the hardship and loss of culture they have experienced. Instead they express sentiments like regret. And this morning I was reading an editorial letter from a person in the Blue Mountains, who says that this generation of white Australia should not be used as scapegoats for what a previous government did.

Well, why not? One Australian government must finally take responsibility for the humanitarian crimes committed against the traditional owners of this land. Perhaps now with quality leadership of people like Aden Ridgeway, aboriginal people may begin to recieve equal representation in government.

Recently I have learned more about my heritage through my participation in our aboriginal dance troupe at school. I have participated in various aboriginal camps and cultural events, such as opening health clinics, dancing at schools for Naidoc week and opening a new aboriginal collection at Campbelltown City Library.

Through the guidance of Maria, my aboriginal education officer, I've been taught various animal dances and ceremonial dances as well as further instruction in playing the Didgeridoo. From Maria I've also gained an understanding of traditional taboos and laws about my lost culture.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a movie on the aboriginal dance group and rock group called Yothu Yindi, they are from the Northern Territory and they had a blind man that was in the group, he was born blind and also a born musical genius.

Mandawuy Yunupingu, the group's leader talks throughout the video. Mandawuy tells of the dreaming and tells of the great change our people have overcome and speaks of the importance of unity of both black and white cultures. I think if his views were more widespread not only would Australia be a less divided nation, the world in general would be a better place.

The Australian society has changed for the aboriginal people since the days of the first settlement, where they were listed alongside cattle on early records and Australia was deemed an uninhabitated island. In the early seventies aboriginies were allowed to vote for the first time and they were no longer removed under the guise of the protection board.

In the eighties land councils were formed and a recognition of the importance of aboriginal culture slowly began to emerge. Along with the land councils came a re-establishment of the position of elders in the aboriginal family group, their ability to successfully enter the white mans world.

In the nineties political correctness has gone beserk, but social change is sadly lagging behind. While political groups lobby for more funds and greater independence, those behind the scenes are poor administrators and financial managers.

I read in the newspapers of the troubles facing groups like ATSIC and find non-aboriginal administrators now run them. It saddens me to think that after 200 years of white domination the aboriginal people can not yet take control of their future generations.

What does the future hold for the children of the 'stolen generation'? Racial harmony and progress? I wish. But in reality I think Australia is headed for more healthy doses of racism and cultural upheaval. If we all lived by a saying my mother told me, Australia would be a better place.

Mum said: "Look not to the colour of a man's skin, but to the colour of his heart. There you will find your answers."

The End

WebMaster's Note: You can reach the author of this story by email c/o Melissa Ishak