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Why I Burned My 'Proof of Aboriginality'

  • Date Submitted: 05/01/2013 04:58 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 44.8 
  • Words: 1023
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I am a person of Aboriginal descent. This is nothing special; all it means is that I could trace my ancestry back to a stone-age way of life more easily, with far fewer steps, than most readers.

When I think about my Aboriginal ancestry, I feel gratitude. I feel gratitude because modernity has given me a life of ease, pleasure and privilege beyond anything an Aboriginal woman in pre-invasion Australia could possibly imagine. As a person of Aboriginal descent, and a female at that, I am grateful that I had the good fortune to be born here in Australia in 1975, and not here in say, 1775.

Perhaps life for my Aboriginal ancestors (the Bundjalung people of what is now northern NSW) had its good points prior to invasion, just as European life around 5,000 BC couldn't have been all bad ... though nobody seems to miss that particular lifestyle much or yearn to have it back.

Perhaps some readers are disgusted that a person with Aboriginal ancestry would be grateful to the 'white invaders', given the historical horrors they brought upon 'my people'. Nonsense; I can feel gratitude for my personal good fortune without needing to be grateful to anyone in particular.

I don't feel particularly proud to be Aboriginal. No-one likes to see a skinhead thumping his chest and saying he is proud to be white; how is pride in an Aboriginal racial identity any different? And yet in a way I am proud of my Aboriginal ancestors.

Some Aboriginal people say they are proud to be survivors. They are proud to be members of a (somewhat nebulous) racial/cultural group that has survived (sort of) for thousands of years.

I don't share that perspective, but I have my own version of 'survivor pride'. The fact that I am here, with a bit of Aboriginal in my genetic mix, means that at some point my Aboriginal ancestors had the wit to take advantage of what was on offer, and so they survived where others did not. I feel pride that my forbears had the sense to discard unhelpful traditions...

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