18 May, 2006

Aboriginals are smelly

I have small children,
I'm not sure how many as they tend to move around a lot, which makes it hard to count them.
One of them though, recently said to me "Daddy I don't like Aboriginals". This concerned me because we live in a town with a large number of Indigenous Australian and that sort of comment could well be seen as racist. So I had a little talk with said child about why this was so, and pointed out to her several of her friends are in fact Aboriginal. "No they're not!" she replied. And when I asked her why she was sure that they weren't, it turned out that they couldn't be because they "aren't smelly".
Thinking on this I was able to take some comfort from the fact that one of my kids was not in fact racist. She was unaware that being Aboriginal had anything to do with being dark skinned. She assumed it was a name for the drunken itinerants who sleep in the parks around town.
This has come to mind again because of a recent report on abuse and violence in the Aboriginal community. Something most white Australians living on the east coast had forgotten about, because the last report on this (which appalled everyone and lead to all the Chardonnay socialists weeping into their morning lattes was two years ago, so they'd all forgotten that Australia still had black people). My problem though is that Australians are suffering the same problems as my daughter. They've lost sight of what it means for people to be aboriginal, so when they talk about Aboriginal men being violent they are tarring them all with the same brush. The problem is however not a problem with Aboriginal culture. What this is, is a social problem in Australia where a section of our community are living in a cycle of poverty and lack of education. Anyone who looks at world history, be it the Deep South of America, the Slums of Glasgow or the suburbs of Housing Commission homes in Western Sydney can see that substance abuse and violence go hand in hand with a lack of hope. As long as we keep identifying this as an aboriginal problem we'll be failing to do what it takes to repair this rift in our society. We'll also be heaping shame about their aboriginality on the heads of young aboriginals, in particular young boys who will be given the message that this is all they have to look forward to.
So, perhaps this 'shocking' report, might better be used to inform people that...
homeless people may be smelly
drunk people my be violent
unemployed people may be depressed
uneducated people may be unemployed
and that while an Aboriginal person may be violent, it does not follow that violent people are aboriginal.

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