By Tabitha Lean & Leanne Windle
It’s Reconciliation Week and one of the best ways to be an effective ally to Aboriginal people is to challenge the reductive stereotypes about us. So, today we are going to bust five of those pesky myths that your racist uncle likes to spout off at the annual family BBQ!
Myth #1: “You can’t be Aboriginal if you have fair skin”
Now look, we’re both fair skinned gals, so we get this a bit. Let’s break it down a little.
Non-Aboriginal people are absolutely obsessed with classifying us. We have been told since colonization what we are and who we are. For a while, people talked about us in blood quantums (using terms like, half caste, quarter caste, full blood is NOT ok – so, just don’t), and now we have the likes of Latham and Hanson arguing for DNA tests to prove our Indigeneity (side note, those tests don’t even exist).
As our old people say, no matter how much milk you add to a cup of tea, it’s still a cup of tea. Just because we don’t fit some outdated and racist notion of what an Aboriginalperson is supposed to look like, does not mean we are any less Aboriginal. For us, Aboriginality isn’t determined by the colour of our skin, it’s by our relationships – it’s who we are connected with, the relationships we have with our kin, and our connection to community. Mob decide who is mob, straight up!
Want more information about this, check out this link.
Myth #2: “Aboriginal people get special treatment, heaps of financial benefits, and free cars”
Mmmmmm noooo… there is no freebies, and if you insist there is, hook a couple of sisters up!
Myth #3: “All Aboriginal people drink alcohol”
Ah it’s so lazy to ride us off as inferior drunks who sniff petrol and bludge off welfare. To dispel this myth, let’s just hit you with some stats:
- Contrary to public perception surveys have in fact found that proportionally fewer Aboriginal people drink alcohol than everyone else in this country
- 29% of Aboriginal people did not drink alcohol in the previous 12 months, almost double the rate of non-Indigenous people.
- Aboriginal people are 1.4 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Aboriginal people
- Up to 35% of Aboriginal men do not drink alcohol compared with 12% of non-Aboriginal men
- 40% to 80% of Aboriginal women do not drink alcohol compared with 19% to 25% of non-Aboriginal women
- In the Northern Territory, it has been estimated that 75% of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all
For more information, click here.
Myth #4: “Aboriginal people were lucky that the British colonized Australia”
Errrr, ok…if you call bringing death and disease on a big boat to our shores, lucky….*eye roll*
Really, when the British came and colonized the country it was far from a peaceful settlement. Before they came, we had more than 500 individual nations, vibrant and diverse languages, our own technologies, and we lived in harmony with the country since the every first sunrise. When colonisers came they brought an epidemic of diseases, started the most brutal frontier wars, stole the lands, herded us to missions and stole our children. There was nothing lucky about what the British did to our people.
Oh and this from our man, Briggs:
For more info, click here.
Myth #5: “Captain Cook discovered Australia”
Ah that ol’ chestnut.
No, he didn’t.
Cook didn’t discover this country; he invaded it – in the most brutal way. We’ll just leave you here with this awesome piece by Stan Grant.
Now, the big lesson to take away from this is this…the things that you read or hear about us, the little rumors and big lies that abound this nation – they do harm. They do nothing more than serve the extension of the colonial project. So, please speak up when you hear people talking about our mob in harmful and derogatory ways, and seek out the truths…celebrate all that is brilliant about us – and share our pride, not the ill-conceived rubbish!
The myth busting “facts” presented here are the opinions of the two of us. Aboriginal people are not one homogenous mob – we all have different opinions and views.
This is just a mini myth buster, so if you want more myth busting awesomeness, check out this link.
Feature image via Indigemoji. To view more indigemojis, check out this link.