The old misconception of ‘But you don’t look black’ has reared its ugly head this week, with a group of Educated Indigenous Individuals banding together to sue a certain columnist over comments he made about their skin colour and aboriginality.
I myself am a light skinned Aboriginal with Scottish heritage. I’ve gotten the line ‘But you don’t look black’ 1000 times, from both black and white people and my response is, ‘and you don’t look like a racist, but yet here we are’.
My mother had always told me from a young age that Aboriginality isn’t based on your skin colour, it’s about whom YOU Identify as... I grew up with my mum being the main influence in my life. My dad worked away a lot so it’s only natural that I embraced my aboriginal side more so than my Scottish. I have done Indigenous studies at a university level and am smart enough to know that, without my white side, I wouldn’t be standing here today, so I am equally as proud to be Scottish as I am to be aboriginal.
From a childhood of growing up on country in North Queensland, learning the stories and living the way of life I have lived, I have formed what I think is a very strong sense of culture and understanding of my people, my homelands and my race. Although I have spent years living away from home and working with Indigenous people from all across the country in media and at Youth forums and learning a lot about my culture, I am still seen as a baby in my family and know that I am still yet to learn more.
Those bigotry lines of ‘You don’t look aboriginal’, or ‘But your one of the good ones’ used to hurt, but with time and experience and a solid sense of identity, those types of comments no longer hurt me, but are still very much racist and inappropriate. I applaud this group of Individuals for taking this case through the proper channels and hopefully instilling change for those in the future who will no doubt face the same skin colour issue. Not only are these individuals taking a stand for their own identities and families, but for the whole of the nation and every light skinned Indigenous person out there. For this I am proud.
My mother’s generation and past ancestors grew up in a very different society to what my generation live in now. My mum often told me about the rifts between QLD Aboriginal people with NSW Blackfullas (Murris and Koori’s) and even with Torres Strait Islanders in the past, and how hostile it used to be between the different types of groups. I grew up with this misconception and it wasn’t until I moved away that I soon learned to form my own opinions on other indigenous people around the nation. Some of my best and most treasured friends now are Koori, Torres Strait Islander, and other's.
I have been lucky enough to travel a fair bit since leaving high school and work in media which has meant meeting a lot of different black people from all over the country. I’ve met Indigenous people from the very tip of Australia to the bottom, from the NT, To W.A, to S.A, to Hobart, and Shock horror, we aren’t all the same. The differences between Murri’s and Koori’s and Nunga’s and Noongar’s and whoever else come in many forms. The more obvious differences are with language, dance, features and way of life, but we all connect and share that one common similarity and that is our connection to our overall Aboriginal culture.
I was in one of the most recognised indigenous communities in the nation on the weekend, Redfern in Sydney, and it wasn’t until I was there, did I realise how many people I knew and said hello too. Ask any non indigenous person in Sydney what they think of Redfern and their feelings are mixed. For me as a girl from Queensland, walking into a place with so much history (the first aboriginal legal service in the nation, the first aboriginal medical centre in the nation, Redfern riots etc), it was an honour to be there and a real sense of pride comes over me every time I visit. It’s refreshing to know that wherever you go in this country as an Indigenous person, you will be able to make friends or make a connection with someone because there will always be a black face who is willing to extend the hand of friendship to you while you are in their country or community.
I’ve met all types of Indigenous people, from the darkest skinned to the lightest. I’ve met Black fullas with blonde hair and blue eyes, (my nephews and nieces all have these features), blackfullas with straight and curly hair, to red hair and freckles; Like the rest of the world, we come in different shapes and sizes, but most, if not all Indigenous people I’ve met in my travels, are all proud to be aboriginal. We rep our country, we rep our stories, our mob and hold that pride where ever we go; Sure our culture may have a lot of flaws, but then again, what other cultures don't?
Not all Indigenous people get along and we don’t all share the same sense of culture or identity, and I am so grateful to my mum and family for instilling in me such a strong sense of culture from a young age; This today, makes me who I am, it’s my identity and it’s the pride I carry with me where ever I go. My brothers and sisters, no matter your skin colour, be proud and stand tall....
One love, One life