I know this site isn’t supposed to be about political things. It is meant to be about me and my family and our trials with Cancer.
“To be born Black, is to be born political” Kevin Gilbert. So I guess this is part and parcel of it all. I read a blog, (everybody does a blog, nowadays) and they young pretty girl, was rightly complaining that she often gets asked where she is from? The other one is being asked what nationality she is. She is African American and Aboriginal. She said that people say that of course her beauty comes from her African American heritage.
This isn’t new, when I was younger I used to get asked the same thing, and being told you are too pretty to be Aboriginal, what else are you? In those days my standard answer was Bitch. I had it all the time, I had ginger hair, so of course it had to be dyed. Or else it came from my Irish heritage. Let me be straight here. I have Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander on my mothers side. My Da was just Irish. So in the families everyone claimed the long curly ginger hair.
But as a young woman trying to find my identity and found it very hard to deal with this. Of course vanity is part and parcel of human nature, but how do you cope when you are told that part of you is ugly? What do you do? do you say I’m Aboriginal (which is what I proudly Identify as, just as my mother did and my father proudly acclaimed his Aboriginal wife and children). Do I then go through the whole genealogy of my being to explain and justify my looks? Do I feel ungainly unwanted and unloved if I claim my Aboriginality. Am I being discourteous, to the rest of my heritage just claiming one? Am I better looking if I claim to be South Sea Islander? Am I just the “Rose of Tralee” for being Irish.
It took me years to just accept that some people will find a reason to find me ugly just as they will find a reason to consider any one Aboriginal ugly. People will find Africans ugly, it is all down to misunderstanding of culture or just pure bigotry.
No different to the whole, you’re only half white. Hell which half of me are you going to claim? its all brown even where the sun don’t shine. I will never satisfy everyone.
When I was working as a journalist I had some fun times then, because many people were shocked or at the very least startled that an Aboriginal woman would show up with a microphone. I had comments like “you speak so well for a Black/Aboriginal” “Who taught you to speak so well?” “Did they train you to speak so well and so English?”
In those days we had an English African, Trish Goddard, she was on Play School and many I time I was called Trish, (you know we all look alike) and told things like “My kids love you”.
I must share with you one of my finer moments. There were demonstrations on at Parliament house and I insisted on being there to help cover the issues. I was inside in the media room filing my story. Then went back outside. I interviewed some of the mob that were there and then tried to get back into Parliament house to file my story and the guards wouldn’t let me back inside. I must have looked just like them other black fella’s! I had to show my Media pass, but no good they wouldn’t let me in. A journalist from a commercial station and the camera crew vouched for me. Yes I am Aboriginal but I am also media.
Well we spent 15 minutes discussing this and trying to get me in. They ended up calling the head of security and he with the Officer in charge of the police presence came up and quite happily smiled at me. Apologised and asked for my autograph. I think to this day they thought I was Trisha Goddard, or someone else. But at least I got my story done. My how things have changed in the world of the media we have a few more Aboriginal journo’s out there but we need more and we do need some of the hidden ones to freely admit they are one of us. Not just hide it and say its not an issue. Sure its not an issue if you can do the job and it shouldn’t be. But it would be good for our younger generations to see you and go wow I can be on channel 7 or what ever.
But back to the issue, bigotry and the world hasn’t changed too much if we still think you can’t be pretty enough or smart enough unless you have some other race running through your veins.