4 August 2015

Small People. Big Futures.

I didn't blog much in July.  My brain was basically overwhelmed by the world's general dickishness and I really felt that if people were going to be such arsehats to each other, there was nothing I could say or do that would change that. 

But then just this morning, the fug lifted and I remembered that if I quite liked being that pain the arse friend you all have with an opinion that none of you asked for and so I lifted my hands to the keyboard and started tapping out all these letters, one after another and words are appearing before my eyes.  It's freakin' magic I tell you.

So today is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day which is dedicated to celebrating the strengths and culture of indigenous children. This year's theme is Little People, Big Futures.

Which is ace. Most parents like to do that with their own little people.  Celebrate their strengths. Explore their culture.  Dream of their possible futures.  Give them opportunity. See them soar.

And then some numpty wrote a comment on an article saying "Why did they need a special day? - Don't all kids matter?"

And I yelled at my computer "OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE". Out loud. Really loudly actually. Because when you work on your own you can yell at your computer as much as you like.

Because of course all small people matter BUT some adults are idiots and racist and discriminatory and so not all kids get the same opportunities to realise their strengths.  So we need to do whatever we can. And if that means our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a whole day dedicated to reminding them why they are beautiful and worthy and wonderful - then BRING IT ON.

The reason we need to celebrate the strengths and cultures of our indigenous children was made evident with the furore around Adam Goodes last week.  You know, the bit where every racist in Australia spent a lot of time explaining that they aren't racist it's just they don't like Adam Goodes.

Fine. Whatever. I don't care how you justify your racism to yourself. Just don't try and justify it to me.

The simple fact is that following 227 years of systematic and institutionalised racism, not all of the children born in Australia can count on a big future.

And we know that because small Aboriginal girls dressed up as Elsa from Frozen are colour shamed in shopping queues by adult women who think only small blonde girls have a right to play dress ups.

We know that because 60% of our Aboriginal children are lagging behind their peers by the time they start the first grade and only 10% of them get to finish Year 12.

We know that because we boo our Aboriginal sportspeople for performing indigenous dances at matches but not the fair skinned rapists, wife beaters, drug takers or the idiots that shag their best friend's wives at family barbecues.

We know that because 26% of our prison population is Indigenous but yet they only make up 2.5% of our population.

We know that because 20% of Aboriginal teenagers are not living with either parent. We know that that Aboriginal children are more likely to be in care, deprived of the opportunity to know culture, know self.

We know it because non-indigenous children grow up unable to speak a single word of a local language but can go to schools where they are taught in French.

We know it because girls like Samantha Harris and Jessica Mauboy can never just be models or singers, but have to learn to navigate the tricky and sometimes ugly political and media landscape that dissects every word they utter and every move they make to ensure that they are being 'Australian' correctly.

We know it because we know about the American Civil War but not about Myall Creek, Risdon Cove or the Tasmania "Black Wars".

We know it because we know the story of activist Martin Luther King but not that of Vincent Lingiarri.

We know it.

So to all the beautiful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who see and hear the very worst of what we have to say, hear this also.

Those people that speak badly, they do not speak for me or mine.

We who do not experience the adversity of racism nevertheless recognise it's impact on those who are afflicted.

We will try to speak up when people speak down.

We will challenge the placidity and laziness of everyday racism.

And most of all we recognise that we can not change what has happened, but that we can change what will happen, by trying to raise our own small people to be the kind of people you would be proud to call Australian.

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