Thursday, 6 February 2014

Why I will never be a "proud" Australian or American

I recently stumbled across this fantastic article when trying to find the right words to explain what is so wrong about the way many Australians celebrate Australia Day (which just came around on January 26). Australia Day, for any who don't know, essentially celebrates the anniversary of the invasion or "discovery"/"arriving"/"settling" (depending on how you see it) of white people in Australia in 1788. In contemporary Australia, many interpret it as a day to appreciate living in/being from Australia and enjoying the many freedoms that may come along with that.
While I understand that many people do not have ill intentions with their temporary tattoo Australian flags on their face, excessive drinking or their parading through the streets waving the flag,  I think it is important to remain critical of Australian society and to fully understand the implications of what happened in 1788. It is also sickening to see the continual reports every year on the gang violence that tends to occur more often on Australia Day.

It is a refreshing concept to consider multiculturalism in Australia, however I do believe that Australian identity is still tied to whiteness. As a blonde-haired, light-eyed, white woman, whenever I am abroad I am easily 'accepted' as Australian. However, sometimes when people abroad see pictures of my non-white friends, the question comes up: "Are they Australian too?" Although one of my parents is Australian-born and I grew up mainly in Australia, I have never felt tied to or "proud" to be Australian. Instead, I have always found Australian patriotism to seem like a blind eye turned to the people in Australia who DO NOT enjoy the freedoms; native people, refugees, many who are discriminated against for not "looking Australian" (see: Cronulla riots).

So I can be grateful to have lived in countries like Australia and the U.S. where I can enjoy certain liberties, BUT... I will NEVER wave a flag proudly as to some it is a symbol of pain and loss. I will NEVER assume that others who don't look like me or don't share my background have the same freedoms as me. I will certainly NEVER forget what really happened on "Australia Day" and what consequences still live on. Until we bring national attention and recognition to issues like deaths in custody, the concentration camps that once existed in Australia, employer discrimination (the list can go on...), I cannot be a "proud Australian".

"In the (Australian) anthem you’ll find no mention of stolen land – everything is young and new. And as I watch people around the country celebrate the myth that is Australia, I am given the option to either join in or shut up. Well I refuse to celebrate, and every Australia Day my heart is broken as I am reminded that in the eyes of many, I am not welcome on my own land."- 

"Most Australians don't know – or don't want to know – about the extent of the violence that accompanied European colonial settlement and that is still synonymous for black Australia with Australia Day."- 

- Posted by Olympia

No comments:

Post a Comment