I have read and heard much commentary (some of high quality, others I would rather forget) about high profile personalities and their participation in furthering negative stereotypes of First Nations peoples. Like many others I am frustrated that even in a supposedly mature society in 2021 we are still unable to engage in respectful dialogue with each other on matters of colour and creed.
Whilst it is most concerning that high profile South Australians engage in racist commentary (which extends beyond the events of the past month) and that needs to stop don’t get me wrong. What I find more frustrating our societies willingness to call out the easy stuff, the stuff that’s…”NOT US”… but its unwillingness or inability to deal with it in our own backyard.
From my viewpoint, the state of race relations in our country has a direct relationship with our inability to settle some truths about our history, our disdain to truly define who we are as a nation, our contentment in our naivety or simply our complacency in our discomfort.
When do we get to start our discussion about who we want to be? Isn’t that a much more exciting conversation then the one we are engaged in at the moment… Isn’t that a conversation that could truly set the tone of the generations to come?
What is clear in my work in challenging racism, my work with school kids, in emergency mediation sessions. Is that the system we all live, work and play in is still as much in play today as it was upon settlement. The systems and structures that existed then, still exist now. They still operate in the same fashion and they still exclude by omission (overt and sub verse) First Nation meaningful involvement and participation, just without the ‘hithers’ and the ‘forsooths’.
We can’t just be CAREFUL about what we say. We can’t just be MINDFUL of who might hear us.
There needs to be more meat in this sandwich, and like any good club sandwich it needs to be constructed the right way.
It’s about examining the systems and structures that are in place – and simply making way for this to happen. The Uluru Statement from the Heart provided a very humble and gracious request for this country to stand up and examine the founding principles of our rule book, our Constitution… the piece of work that sets the standards for our society… let’s examine this and make the changes… let’s turn from 1901 to 2021.
As my 10-year-old shared her wisdom with me this week
“It is just not right. That one group of people feel that they are better than another, that’s the only reason isn’t it mum?” To which I simply responded “Yes, it is my darling, yes it is”
Racism is a human made condition… so by logic… if it was made then it can be unmade.
So, when I ask, what are we going to do from here? What is our role in the next part of this story? Can we please just get on with it and ‘unmake’ racism… because our kids are waiting… they are ready… and they deserve our attention on this seemingly impenetrable (but man made) curse.
Written by Shona Reid, CEO Reconciliation SA