I am an aboriginal from Southern Australia and race issue influences the way the people in my community relate with one another. The interactions between the people are racialized and some of them are positive while others are negative. The relations between people in businesses, schools, clubs, workplaces, service groups in my community. This paper will answer the following questions. Do members of my community look like me and ways in which they look the same or different? How do leaders in my community treat people like me and those who are different from me? Do the texts or work manuals contain information by or about people like me? Do the local media represent people like me and if so in what ways? What are the similarities between me and other people who are in leadership positions in my community and whether I feel the interests of my minority group are represented within my community? What inequalities could I resolve within my community and what I would change how and why?
Race and community description
Most of the members of my community look like me. They have dark skin like me and we have distinguishing characteristics from the rest of the people in our country. Our Aboriginal ethnicity goes back to post-colonial times. The British after colonizing our country defined people in racial terms and we were excluded from the categorization. This is because our cultural, as well as physical features, were different from theirs (Linnekin & Poyer, 1990:43). The other members of my community are white Australians. They have light skins and have most of them are better of economically than my indigenous community. Most of the students in my class are white Australians and sometimes I cannot help but overhear some of my fellow aboriginals complain about their situation. In addition, there are people of other nationalities like Asians in my community as well as Hispanics. Nevertheless, racial segregation is still there today just like in the earlier years; it may not be mentioned but it is an issue that cannot be ignored (Byrne, 2003).
Discrimination of aboriginals
The aboriginal community experiences racism and it has been attributed to leaders in the society. For a long time, the leaders voted and the aboriginals were not included in the national census until recently. We were considered as others and even less human. The leaders voted for discriminatory laws against the aboriginals that ensured that the Aboriginals could not voice their concerns or have the right to own land. The leaders have failed to address the problem of racism and it persists in the health sector. Some health centers do not welcome Aboriginal mothers and thus when a kid falls sick they are not taken to the health facility immediately until after their condition deteriorates (Miles, 2009). Therefore by the time they see a doctor their health problems have spread and are difficult to treat. For example, I had a neighbor who visited a health center and the nurse was very rude to her that she left before she could be treated and when her five-year-old daughter became sick she totally refused to take her to the health center and after two weeks the little girl passed away. Furthermore, the leaders voted to assimilate the aboriginals and many of the aboriginal children were brought up by white families my grandmother was bought up by a white family and they taught her their ways. To many of her family members, she had become a ‘white Australian’ because she learned their ways. She however says that the family treated her very well and allowed her to go to school and pursue her dreams. She attended a nursing school and was a nurse for twenty years. When she met my grand father-an aboriginal- she was charmed by his sense of humor and after she got married she went to live with him in his rural home.
There are texts and manuals written by aboriginal writers. The writings tackle the different experiences of the different aboriginal people. Aboriginal writers have written about their experience through various media for example poetry, songs, short stories, plays, biographies, autobiographies, children’s literature, and community histories (Birns & Macneer, 2007:42). The writers write about the Aboriginals to enable other people who are nonindigenous to understand them and help to improve the race relationship that has been strained for so long. For instance, there are many cases of white Australians who have been beaten by aboriginal youths. There is one case that stands out for me; I had gone to visit my aunt who lives about two hours drive from my home and I witnessed an old woman who had been beaten up and left for the dead fortunately some two policemen took her to hospital. Those who witnessed the incident said that she had been beaten by an aboriginal young man. Therefore the aboriginal writers use their talents in writing to reclaim their identity as many of them are critiqued for their race rather than their writing skills (Birns & Macneer, 2007:42). Some of the aboriginal writers are Ruby Langford Ginibi and Sally Morgan the author of My Place.
The local media portrayal of my people for a long time has been negative. Since the 1980s the mainstream media has been reporting about the criminal disorder of the indigenous people. A study done from1988 to 1989 showed that about 38 % of the articles contained were stereotypical with negative stories that associated the aboriginals with a crime as well as violent behavior. Many of the people in my community feel that the media racial overtones in their reporting only lead to the generation of fear between the white and the black Australians (Cunneen, Fraser & Tomsen,1997:153). The media ought to report more about the positives in the aboriginal community. A balance should be struck between the reporting about individual aboriginals and generalizing about the whole community. (Cunneen et al, 1997:153). On the other hand, some other media is working hard to change the portrayal of the aboriginal people to a positive one. For instance the movie Ngaweeyen Thookay which means the voice of children shows the culture, heroes as well as artists from the community which the mainstream media has ignored for a long time.
The people in leadership positions in my community champion the rights of my community. They want the aboriginal people treated as the other citizens of Australia in all aspects. They should not be discriminated against just because of their skin color. What is interesting is that an aboriginal who excels has to be labeled for example the aboriginal footballer, the aboriginal musician, the aboriginal doctor, and so on. The leaders fight for the same employment opportunities for the indigenous people who have been disadvantaged in the job market. The similarities between me and the people in leadership in my community are that we both want the aboriginal children to get equal opportunities in acquiring quality education that will lead them to develop themselves in their careers of choice. On the other hand, the interests of my minority group in my community are not fully represented many still live in poverty. Therefore they are unable to change their situation for themselves and their children and the cycle of poverty revolves through many families.
There are some inequalities in my community like the lack of access roads. The health facilities are not fully equipped and many cannot access the few that are there. Employment opportunities for the aboriginals are limited. The health facilities need to be changed by having more aboriginals working in the health sectors. This would help the aboriginals who feel unwelcome in the health facilities to be more open to visiting them. The infrastructure should be improved by building more roads that will make it easier to access the rural areas where most of the aboriginals live. The aboriginals should be given more training and guidance to improve their chances of getting employment. By improving these areas the lives of the aboriginals would improve considerably. Their health will improve if they were able to seek medical assistance in time. With accessible roads and this would give them more economic freedom by opening up their areas to the wider country.
Some Australians still consider some groups of people as others in other words as outsiders. This is very unfortunate because this leads to animosity between groups of people. This leads to intolerance of people who are different, people concentrate on what separates them instead of what they have in common. Therefore people from diverse backgrounds need to talk to one another about an identity crisis. This way the different communities in Australia will learn about each other’s culture hence more tolerance and understanding as well as the acceptance of each other’s differences. On the other hand, the media needs to play a role in educating communities about the different cultures instead of having biased reporting that only focuses on the negatives of one community. The media should expose the injustices and wrongs in the community in a fair manner as well as highlight the positive of the underprivileged communities. The government and the leadership should improve the facilities for all the communities to give them an equal opportunity as the rest of the other communities. More importantly, the issue of race and racism should be debated and anti-racism guidelines given to the different communities.
- Birns, N. & McNeer, R. (2007). A companion to Australian literature since 1900, New York, Boydell & Brewer.
- Byrne, R. D. (2003). Nervous landscapes. Journal of Social Archaeology, Vol. 3. No. 2, 169-193 DOI: 10.1177/1469605303003002003
- Cunneen, C., Fraser, D. & Tomsen, S. (1997). Faces of hate, Honolulu: Hawkins Press.
- Linnekin, J. & Poyer, L., (1990). Cultural identity and ethnicity in the Pacific, Hawaii Press.
- Miles, J. (2009). Racism blamed for non treatment of Aboriginal children.