You know, it’s very easy to sit back and judge. It’s probably the easiest thing in the world to do. Even easier to sit and judge from your own perspective, your own context, and not give time to a different perspective.
We are all guilty of this. Including me. And, regrettably, I continue to be despite my best efforts to be a better and less judgemental, more open, person.
For all of my youthful years I celebrated Australia Day on 26 January. I am, and always have been, in principle, a proud Australian. I am not always proud of my countrymen’s behaviour, choices and attitudes, but I love Australia and the potential it offers for an amazing life.
At some point though, in my celebration of Australia Day, I hit a point of realisation, as I became better educated, that that particular day was a day that marks a period of time that Australians today should not be proud of. For our first people, our Indigenous brothers and sisters, it marks a horrific turning point in their collective history.
The start of a genocide, not just of people, but of language, culture, beliefs, tribal systems and hierarchies, their entire way of life and way of knowing was attacked. Today, we still see the impact of this, and statistics validate the argument that there is a significant gap between the success rates in education of the dominant culture to the indigenous culture.
The Stolen Generations, as one example only, is not something restricted to the past. The forcible and government mandated removal of children from their biological parent is something that occurred during my lifetime. The effects of this still impact an entire generation of people.
And so, I stopped celebrating. I stopped attending barbeques, stopped listening to the hottest hundred, stopped participating in Invasion Day. At the time, most people didn’t get it. Today, more and more people are starting to express the same sentiment.
I don’t mind being different when I am standing in my truth.
In Australia, we pride ourselves on the ideal of inclusivity. I don’t believe that we are. I think we are deluding ourselves. We may once have been, but even this is highly doubtful to me. Inclusivity exists only for the dominant culture.
As a child of migrant parents, one German, in the seventies and eighties, at school, post WWII, I remember being bullied for being a “kraut” and kids would chant “Sieg Heil” at me.
But, as a child, I was told I was different; there was no inclusivity here. And, I only knew Australia. I was born here. This was my home. As an adult who chose blonde hair, I had other adults inform me that I could not possibly understand racism; I belonged to the dominant, blonde haired, Australian culture.
As a high school teacher with interesting ideals, pedagogy and methodology, I have always felt marginalised. I have never quite belonged because I have never embraced the status quo; it didn’t work for me. So, I found teaching not very inclusive too.
What I have learned from all of this, plus more, is that until we have walked in the shoes of another, or made serious attempts to empathise with the perspective of another, we are engaging in dominant culture privilege.
Just because the majority may think it, doesn’t make it right or true or inclusive. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change or revise or grow. When one person does not feel included, we cannot argue that we are an inclusive democracy.
Do I even need to connect marriage equality to this argument. No question mark. Seriously, Australia, wake up. Dominant culture privilege.
And, the rights of people with disability. I know a child with Autism who is being deliberately bullied at a local Catholic high school by a mob of his peers, to the extent that he is expressing extreme anxiety and suicidal tendencies, whilst the school continues to argue that they can’t do anything about it. Dominant culture privilege.
We are so ego based that we fail to focus on what is in the collective best interests. We don’t want to ‘lose’ that which is sacred to us, but we are happy to deprive others of the same.
Time to evolve, to ascend, to be better because we know better.