After listening to one of the speakers at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference I pondered. There is a fine line between racial identifiers and racial profiling.
Now think about it, you give information to a health professional, they take down the information and it is used to help with things like cancer research and other health research. But that information of your race and other factors is there for others to see, to draw the parallel of what all your race do and don’t do.
Just stop and really think about it, so I go in and I say I am Aboriginal, brain tumour, some time smoker and you can bet your bottom dollar they think that I am a drinker, probably unemployed. The ideas that we carry around with us all our lives colour our view on people and situations.
This is a real problem but how to deal with it is an even bigger problem. Cultural Awareness can only do so much. people have to be aware of what they are doing and if they see another person jumping to conclusions they need to step in. This also falls in the casual racism category, which seems to be growing. Look at the recent media attention to the Gold Logie nominees. Who would have thought so much angst would come from having two very identifiable non white Australians nominated. I think it’s great that the country is accepting a wider view of what is Australia, but the old guard is still holding on to its White Australia.
When Angeline Le Tendre was talking about the Cancer problems with Canadian First Nation Peoples she made one statement that really hit home. When the medically profession talk about preventative. She said that preventative means you can prevent it, you have a choice, so if you get cancer then you are to blame. She said that Aboriginal people always get the blame, they are bad, they don’t live like us. They do everything wrong, so they are to blame.
When you think about it that is the way many people see a lot of health issues, they see a person to blame for the bad choices that have caused the disease. They don’t see the real problem of LACK of choices. This plays into those bad choices that are selected.
For my point of view, well I totally agree with her, it is such a simple thing, but the realisation, that many do not see the lack of choices and that this lack is what leads to the bad choices. So yep, preventative is a bit of a dodgy word when talking about how people get an illness. In the mainstream society, they might be able to judge, shake their heads, tut tut over some ones bad choices and that they have not done enough to prevent a disease, but I hope they don’t. Because problems are problems, and if you are only looking with a very narrow view as to how to deal with it, well that little window of people who are overlooked will grow and grow.