Am I white enough for you?
This is a guest post by Michael Dangalaba, who first posted this on his quite wonderful blog Clouds on a Distant Horizon.
This piece was written in response to comments by Country Liberal party candidate for the seat of Stuart at the Northern Territory general election, Bess Price during the SBS program “Aboriginal or Not?” broadcast on 7 August 2012.
Michael’s piece is largely in response to the following exchange – but he makes a number of points that i think are worth a broader audience.
“ANTON ENUS: Let’s get a comment from Bess Price.
BESS PRICE, CLP CANDIDATE FOR STUART NT: I just have one question, why don’t you acknowledge the other heritage that you have and be proud of it? And just not go one way?
TARRAN BETTERRIDGE: I agree.
BESS PRICE: I can stand up and say I’m a black fella and I’ve got one blood and that’s it. But my daughter, whose father is sitting next to me, she acknowledges the father and the other heritage that she has – she doesn’t just say she’s a black fella. That has to happen here in Australia so we can all be honest and equal with each other and understanding because it creates the division. It creates a division.
I didn’t know you were black fella as well because I’m sitting here and you totally look like a white fella to me. (emphasis added)”
When muppets like Bess Price ask us half-breeds why we don’t celebrate our non-Indigenous culture, she isn’t suggesting we acknowledge both.
She isn’t saying to us that we should revel in our diversity and share in the richness of our own individual multiculturalism.
To me she is simply saying “Fuck off, you’re not black enough for me. You’re not allowed in our club any more, go play with the white kids”.
The thing is, for me at least, I always have celebrated both. Very openly, very equally, very proudly.
So why, you might ask, as many have before you, do I feel it necessary to ‘identify’ as Aboriginal, and why, you might ask, as many have before you, do I feel it necessary to work so explicitly and so tirelessly and so publicly for ‘my people’, the Aboriginal people of Australia?
Well, try this on for size.
When a stranger looks me in the face, they don’t see the son of a hardworking bureaucrat, a single mother who gave 30 continuous years to the Commonwealth public sector, who raised two boys single handedly, and who lived in the same, cold, unadorned Canberra house for over 20 years.
When a stranger looks me in the face, they don’t see the grandson of a true English gentleman who sailed proudly for the Royal Navy in WWII, who settled in Australia afterwards and was the respected publican of the Cairns RSL until his untimely death.
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