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Archive for the ‘Indigenous rights’ Category

I was chatting to an indigenous uni student the other day. I’m going to call her Alice for the sake of this piece. Alice can (and sometimes does) “pass” as totally “white” and from what she told me, she grew up with a pretty similar set of privileges as many non-Aboriginal suburban Sydney kids (at least, on a superficial level).

Alice was telling me about some of her experiences in admitting to peers that she is, in fact, Aboriginal. One of the things she talked about was her receipt of certain scholarships and other support because of her Aboriginality. She said she sometimes feels guilty about this, because she is, functionally, little different from many of her non-Aboriginal peers.

The idea that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get enormous amounts of money from the Government for which they do nothing and with which they do nothing – and part of that is the idea that the Government gives too much to indigenous Australians – is also a common trope. It’s a stance with which I disagree, but I sometimes find it difficult to put my reasoning into words. Sometimes, it all feels simply ideological.

Alice and I were talking about how injustice to a group over a period of time justifies what may look like preferential treatment to descendants of that group, and she said: “Yeah, whenever I say to my mum that I feel guilty, she points out that my grandfather wasn’t even allowed to go to school.”

And that’s when it clicked for me.

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