Artist describes the first time she ever saw white Australians as a teenager


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/12/artist-describes-the-first-tim.html


#2

It’s particularly astonishing to me, a white Australian, that there are still people alive who recall the first time they saw a white person. And roughly 150 years after colonisation/invasion by the British! Speaks to the size of Aus and consequent isolation of inland-living First Australians, I guess.


#3

It also speaks to the fact that the invasion and genocide of Australia is not distant history but is instead living memory.

White conquest of Australia wasn’t an event, it was a process. A process that is still going on.


#4

Wouldn’t it be great if BB had instead posted a video that better acknowledged the costs of such conquests to indigenous people? The video posted instead – even though it consists mostly of this woman talking – presents a very benign version of white/indigenous contact. (“We became Christians all the way.” And . . . ?)


#5

[insert whynotboth.gif of choice]

It seemed ominous to me, but perhaps that’s an artifact of what I know of European colonization. Especially the religious proselytization, the way the Catholic missionaries essentially bribed the indigenous people with things that were abundant to the invaders but rare to the cultures they systemically overwrote with their own.

I suspect if an evangelical xtian saw this, it would give them warm fuzzies, which somehow only adds to the creepiness.


#6

Her reaction is kind of disapointing. I expected more insight.
It seems like she had known white people existed, but just hadn’t seen one.


#7

I don’t think white people were really a big secret by the 1940s.


#8

Well, when she mentions that her family was afraid that white people would kill them, one suspects that this fear was not unfounded.


#9

Colonialism, missions, death, expansion. The kangaroos in the room.


#10

amended for accuracy


#11

While she speaks of her own experience as benign, It seems to me that it’s still undeniable that even well intentioned catholic missionaries that would feed her were just part of the larger colonization effort which ultimately messed up the lives of many more people than they helped.
It’s almost sad that she speaks so well of those Catholics who indoctrinated her into their beliefs.


#12

:musical_note: In 1788 down Sydney Cove
The first boat-people land
And they said sorry boys our gain’s your loss
We gonna steal your land
And if you break our new British laws
For sure you’re gonna hang
Or work your life like convicts
With chains on your neck and hands

And They taught us
Oh Oh Black woman thou shalt not steal
Oh Oh Black man thou shalt not steal
We’re gonna civilize
Your Black barbaric lives
And teach you how to kneel
But your history couldn’t hide
The genocide
The hypocrisy to us was real
'cause your Jesus said
You’re supposed to give the oppressed
A better deal
We say to you yes whiteman thou shalt not steal
Oh ya our land you’d better heal

Your science and technology
Hey you can make a nuclear bomb
Development has increased the size to three million megatons
If you think that’s progress
I suggest your reasoning is unsound
You shoulda found out long ago
You best keep it in the ground

They taught us
Oh Oh Black woman thou shalt not steal
Oh Oh Black man thou shalt not steal
We’re gonna civilize
Your Black barbaric lives
And teach you how to kneel
But your history couldn’t hide
The genocide
The hypocrisy to us was real
'cause your Jesus said
You’re supposed to give the oppressed
A better deal
We say to you yes whiteman thou shalt not steal
Oh ya our land you’d better heal

Job and me and Jesus sittin’
Underneath the Indooroopilly bridge
Watchin’ that blazin’ sun go down
Behind the tall tree’d mountain ridge
The land’s our heritage and spirit
Here the rightful culture’s Black
And we sittin’ here just wonderin’
When we get the land back

They taught us
Oh Oh Black woman thou shalt not steal
Oh Oh Black man thou shalt not steal
We’re gonna civilize
Your Black barbaric lives
And teach you how to kneel
But your history couldn’t hide
The genocide
The hypocrisy to us was real
'cause your Jesus said
You’re supposed to give the oppressed
A better deal
We say to you yes whiteman thou shalt not steal
Oh ya our land you’d better heal

You talk of conservation
Keep the forest pristine green
Yet in two hundred years your materialism
Has stripped the forests clean
A racist’s a contradiction
That’s understood by none
Mostly their left hand hold a bible
Their right hand holds a gun

They taught us
Oh Oh Black woman thou shalt not steal
Oh Oh Black man thou shalt not steal
We’re gonna civilize
Your Black barbaric lives
And teach you how to kneel
But your history couldn’t hide
The genocide
The hypocrisy to us was real
'cause your Jesus said
You’re supposed to give the oppressed
A better deal
We say to you yes whiteman thou shalt not steal
Oh ya our land you’d better heal :musical_note:

(Kev Carmody also wrote this, BTW)


#13

Neat story. So was she just going in and out of English and her native tongue? As there were sentences and phrases I clearly understood, but others I didn’t. Or is it just a dialect so foriegn most English speakers can’t understand it (like some English speakers in the UK).

Also I was curious and looked it up - bush tucker is any food one traditionally found when foraging.


#14

Thank you, those are both great to hear.


#15

I had similar concerns. My big question is “what is her name?” “What is her name in her tongue?”. She may go by “Stumpy” now, and have succeeded quite nicely in the “white man’s world”, but it seems a lot like the “convert or else” approach that happened here in the USA.


#16

BTW, for an alternate (and newer) version of Thou Shalt Not Steal:


#17

Colonization typically includes imparting significant linguistic elements into the native tongues.

On the one hand, I’m not entirely okay with questioning her voice as corrupted by the colonizers; which is why I’d like more perspectives, but not in lieu of hers. I mean, I don’t share her religious beliefs at all, but she shouldn’t be deplatformed because her beliefs happen to favor the colonizers.

On the other hand, European colonization did such wide-spread damage to the world that it seems remiss not to provide a platform to its victims who fared far worse.


#18

Said he, casually – and without a trace of irony – presuming to tell the indigenous person what she should think about her own story. The views and experiences of aboriginal people do not always align with what we think they should be. (eg https://www.theage.com.au/national/bring-back-the-missions-plea-from-nt-leader-20080327-ge6w8l.html)


#19

A) An indigenous person isn’t representative of an entire indigenous people.

B) @TheGreatParis did nothing of the sort.

C) A video is at least as much a product of the editor(s) and the interviewer as the interviewee.


#20

No, indeed! But if it was only her experience, why would it show a “disappointing” lack of “insight”? Isn’t the implication that her perspective isn’t representative of the wider facts – i.e. she fails to represent the true experience of indigenous people?

Very true. But I’m not sure I see the point here. Are you suggesting that a fuller transcript would reveal her to be more ambivalent? That might be right, but it’s pretty easy to show that there are other aboriginal people whose perspectives line up with this snippet. None of which, I hasten to add, is to say that this experience was universal.