Saturday, November 23, 2013

TKW Guest blog: IndigenousX changed my life.

A guest blog from one of my favourite tweeps, @TheKooriWoman 


A little over a year ago I wasn’t feeling too great about the place I was working. The usual trouble for outspoken Aboriginal women I realise now, but at the time I didn’t really have anything tangible to relate what I was going through to. Any and all of my suggestions were being ignored, requests for further training were denied, accusations of theft against me, incredibly tense colleague relationships to name but a few of the problems I was dealing with. The final straw was the news that my position was being re-advertised, and a man was being actively sought to take my place in accordance with cultural sensitivity protocols regarding the handling of certain artefacts (2 artefacts in all. Which were housed in a static display case, and only moved for cleaning), that were usually handled by a male volunteer.

I sought solace in reading, as I invariably do at times of high stress. Only this time I wasn’t in the mindset for novels and escape, I wanted to get back to myself as I had been before starting to work and trumpeting other peoples truths as my own and slowly eroding my spirit in the process. I’ve always called myself a feminist, and had read a great deal of feminist theory, but hadn’t done so for a good while. I was reading Aint I A Woman by Bell Hooks, and a thought struck me – where are the Australian Aboriginal feminists? I was looking for a dose of something more close to home, something to identify with on a deeper personal level. I learnt long ago that there is a lot of white womens feminist theory and reading that is beyond ridiculous in its absence of and ignorance towards people of colour. I was carrying a lot of hurt and anger that was slowly, quietly turning into a rage that if it had peaked, would have consumed me.

I had read Talking up to the White Woman by Aileen Moreton-Robinson and at the time, wasn’t moved. (This is something I have been thinking about a great deal lately, and will write about in depth on my blog). I decided to get online and check out what other Aboriginal women were saying and doing and thinking. I needed to connect with something larger than myself, I was becoming lost in myself and a sense of hopelessness was pervading even the most mundane everyday acts.

The first link was to a blog called Rantings of a Black Feminist by a woman named Celeste Liddle. I clicked on that page and my world has never been the same since. I think I just about devoured every piece Celeste had written to that point on a very dark and rainy afternoon and well into the night in one sitting. Only taking a break to cook dinner and make cups of tea. I never use the word inspirational. It’s way overused and has lost most of its meaning thanks to glossy magazines and to some extent Oprah. (yes, I said it). But this for me, this was inspirational. There really is no other way I can convey the sense of joy and understanding I felt reading Celestes work. A gentle feeling of fun runs through a lot of her pieces. Even on the most difficult of topics, and underneath it all, a mind like a well oiled steel trap. I had never ever entertained the thought of creating my own blog space. But now I had to. A tiny space where I could put my truth back in order and start my own inner healing. Inspired entirely by Rantings of a Black Feminist. I called it The Koori Woman, and decided it would be my truth, my voice and I would own it. The mere act of creating the wordpress page was uplifting within itself. I am forever indebted to Celeste.

The very first piece I read mentioned that Celeste was curating a Twitter account called IndigenousX. That looks interesting I thought. I made a twitter account called The Koori Woman followed IndigenousX and on my very first day met the people who have become my friends for life. Always interesting and never boring, a lot of the time the IndigenousX Twitter account sets the topics for discussions across Australia, no mean feat for an idea that came to fruition out of a sense of frustration at the lack of Indigenous voices on social media!

I timidly (yes, me, timidly) asked Luke Pearson (IndigenousX creator) if I could have a turn sometime. When he replied and said how bout next week? I was chuffed. I took the opportunity to talk about my hometown, highlight some racist acts and connected with a lot of very genuine, honest and willing to learn people. It was through my first turn on IndigenousX that I found a voice that I had been stifling for a very long time in an effort to pursue my career without creating waves.

The storify of my curation is available herehttp://storify.com/IndigenousX/thekooriwoman and after re reading it, I can see the areas that I have grown, where my confidence kicked in during that week and I remember even though I was a little intimidated at first, it galvanised me into taking a more active role in highlighting the injustices Aboriginal Australians are still facing through racism and discrimination through writing. Curating the IndigenousX account was an experience I will never forget. Unlike other rotational curated accounts, IndigenousX belongs to that weeks tweeter, and that tweeter alone. No topic is off limits and every week is a journey with that tweeter. It’s a small window into a different Indigenous person each week and really showcases how diverse and deadly we all are in our own different ways. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Luke Pearson joins the IDX Team

Luke Pearson joins the IDX Team

I am stoked to announce that I have recently taken a position with the NCIE (we all knew it had to happen sooner or later), under the very cool sounding title of ‘Community Catalyst’.
The NCIE and I have a long standing history of collaboration and cooperation. It was the NCIE who first coined the phrase IndigenousX, which has since become my all consuming focus online and off. We have collaborated on various projects and events in the past, but this is the first time I am involved directly as an official team member. Always nice to be a part of a team!
In some ways this new role will be an evolution of the work I began earlier in the year when I was engaged by the NCIE and the Telstra Foundation to get people contributing ideas and comments via an online conversation in the lead up to the IndigenousDX forum earlier this year.
That was a great experience, but I was keen to take a more active role in the direction, development and implementation of this important agenda.
This new role will give me an opportunity to do exactly that.
I will be specifically working on enhancing and refining the already amazing work of the Community of Excellence. I hope that I will be able to make a positive contribution to this developing online Indigenous community as it continues to grow, encounters new challenges, and reaches for new heights.
A lot of what I’ll be doing will be behind the scenes so you probably won’t see as much day to day live tweeting from my online accounts, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing lots of you who are reading this in the coming weeks and months.
Basically my role is going to be centered around strategy and planning, building membership, and online engagement within the Community of Excellence.
I’m really excited about the challenges and opportunities that will lay ahead with this new role, and am optimistic that we will be able to make the most of the possibilities the Community of Excellence presents to all those who are, or will become, a part of it.
Thanks,
Luke Pearson
Editors note: Check out Luke’s brilliant talk at TEDxCanberra.

Originally posted at:
http://ncie-idx.tumblr.com/post/65310849534/luke-pearson-joins-the-idx-team

Friday, July 12, 2013

#NAIDOC guest blog 3 - @Dalayva

Father and I

I remember distinctly in NAIDOC week 1992 when our teacher mentioned the word “Aboriginal”. All kids slowly turned their eyes to me. The seven-year-old Kodie proudly got up and marched to the top of the class. There I held a flag with the only other black kid in year two (hello Christopher  Kickett if you are out there) and told my seven year old peers the meaning of each colour presented on the Aboriginal flag. I had spent all night studying those three colours. Not because I wanted too, but because my father made me sit on his bed in our Geraldton house and continued to quiz me this information until I got it right. A week before I am sure he was quizzing me on the Aboriginal Legal Service importance but it went over this kid’s head.

But I think back to that first NAIDOC moment and it brings back that special moment of my Dad and I practicing my talk. Whenever I am made to write articles about myself, I usually talk about the women in my family. They constantly surround me and have strong personalities that you can’t ignore; from my mad Aunties; to my strong and staunch Grandmothers on both sides of my black and white family. I am proud of these women and the impact that they have had on my life.

It wasn’t until my Father rang me up the other day and complained that he didn’t get a mention some newsletter that profiled me and got back to him. Instead I mentioned my role models as my grand mothers and Michelle Obama (who wouldn’t).  He told me he would spend the rest of the morning being angry at me and wished me a good day.

“Rightio,” I said. “I’ll talk to you later Father.”

It’s not that he lacks attention, he is known all through Western Australia football circles as one of the best full forwards to play in Geraldton. To this day I have to hear those ‘when I was a footballer’ stories and see those old cherished memories of football photos and memorabilia branded through his house. But in a family of women, he is kind of put back in the shadows.

As the only child of John Bedford, I have quite a reputation due to that famous East Kimberley last name. No matter where I go in the country, someone always asks the same question. “Are you John Bedford’s daughter?” I kid you not, I was even in Tasmania, 4000kms and 40 degrees colder than Halls Creek (where my namesake come from) and a man came up to me and asked the question.

Sometimes they know him because of my family, sometimes because of the footy reputation, sometimes because they had run into him at the Court Wine Bar in East Perth where he often frequents.

But you see, being John Bedford’s daughter is not as easy as you think. Any of these people who run into him always relay to him what I am doing and who I am with. I call them his spies. This means I can never be caught ‘misbehaving’, not that I would (but a girl's got to let her hair down with vodka sometime).

 A father-child relationship is sadly non-existent in most black families I know. Those Aboriginal men, for reasons of historically, environmental and their own damn lack of responsibility issues, are yet to master the art. It’s sad when I see single mothers struggling to raise our boys into men, overcompensating at the lack of a real male role model. The sorry cycle continues and our men are locked up or just plain gone to face what they have left at home- even a child.

My relationship with my father, like everyone, is not all-smooth sailing. My parents divorced when I was ten, and my father moved back to the Kimberley. I was, as my mother says, unexpected when I was born. Young twenty-year-old parents, one on the verge of a bright football career, struggling to juggle their new responsibility.

But I will say one thing. My father did stick around for newborn me, maybe at the cost of the football career, he’s never really said. And with him there I was taught and raised to be proud of my identity as an Aboriginal girl; to the point I would stand up in class and preach to them about colours of a flag.

When he left, I was without a male role model and shipped off to black and white Aunties and grandmothers every holidays (I loved it). A father absent in a girl’s teenage years doesn’t bode well for the girl’s outlook on men when she is at that age of noticing boys. But in my older years, my father mellowed out in his old age, and I’ve realised life is too short for grudges. Oh yeah we fight, we both have a short fuse, I have to take a deep breath before I call him out for being, what I refer to, a typical black male. And then he rings me every now and then, usually every week or so, and even though our conversations never past two minutes, I can tell he is making an effort and showing his love in the ways he does. 

Those same spies relay to me that often talks about me like only a father could, my Aunties send me secret emails which show him talking me up to them and the family; and one day, amongst his football pictures, I found a photo of him and I hanging on the wall. Yes, my father is proud of me.

So this NAIDOC I am remembering that girl who was taught about the world from her Dad. From space, to history, to community life, to simply the colours of an Aboriginal flag (and lets not forget the ALS talk).

We talk about identity and people have even challenged mine. I am, after all, a product of a white and black relationship. But never have I not known who I was. It’s been instilled in me since the day I was born and I am reminded constantly. I am a Djaru woman whose family is hard working royalty in the Kimberley, I am a music lover who was taught piano from an early age by my white grandmother, I am a writer, I am West Coast Eagles supporter (much to my Father’s dismay), and yes, I am John Bedford’s daughter.

Boy’s beware.

Happy NAIDOC father.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

#NAIDOC guest blog 2 - @TheKooriWoman


On NAIDOC.

So when someone asked if I would be interested in writing a piece on NAIDOC week, on 'dunno, whatever you want, thanks', I thought hmmm yeah I could do that, no worries, I'll write something up later, after dinner and before I start my Gears of War campaign on Xbox.

Originally I was going to write something about funding for NAIDOC events, and the difficulty in stretching it to say, a known performer coming to town, the butcher mysteriously puts up the price of sausages, or how sometimes the person holding the purse strings for NAIDOC is an arsehole and you cant stand interacting with them, not even on an email only level.

What I discovered, after reading the 1000 odd words I had stream of conscious vomited onto the screen says a lot about how much my thinking has changed over the past year. Being on the outside of Aboriginal/Government employment, and just how much fucking shit I swallowed and pushed in the name of keeping my job and not rocking the boat.

Well the boat is well and truly rocked (that fucker's on the bottom of the ocean now, along with any respect I had for local councils), the job is long gone and with it, my integrity has returned, I sleep like a rock and I'm halfway done getting the boot off my neck.

Even writing about an organisation I admire greatly and have a lot of respect for, I still cannot take off the unconscious political lens that I write my pieces through when it comes to Aboriginal Australia.

After I hit the delete key and erased the brain fart that not even Luke Pearson, editor extraordinaire would have been able to save, armed even as he is with a thesaurus brain and media savvy I've yet to see any Aboriginal match. I started to really think about NAIDOC, what it is, why it is and trying to untangle the contradictory thoughts I have about the week of celebration of culture it represents.

Through reading the other blogs in this series for NAIDOC week, you will have an understanding of the origin story of NAIDOC, it's significance and it's unrefuckinglenting feel good message.

Because when you remove all the lovely flowery talk of celebrations of history, achievements of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, the festiveness of all walks of life enjoying and participating in Aboriginal culture, you are left with the bare bones of what this week is really about.

This week is about the people that came before us, who were fed the fuck up with being classed as animals and plants, people who were smacked down every time they tried to change their lot in life, people who were being told, in no uncertain terms, that for all of their ideas, and for all of their pleas, this wonderful, beautiful, awesome, fuck, go crazy, use all the adjectives, country used the Australian Constitution to reject all of their petitions.

The theme of this year's NAIDOC week are theYirrkala Bark Petitions, which were sent to the Australian House of Representatives in 1963. It is widely held that the Bark Petitions helped kick off the process of constitutional change that led to the referendum in 1967 on giving Aboriginal Australia the right to be counted, as human beings (well shit, we are so fucking grateful) and allowing Aboriginal people the right to vote in the elections for their new Sovereign overlords who have consistently and without fail, fucked us over for 235 years.

But I have to take a moment here to really pay tribute to the Yolngu people who saw that all attempts to engage with white Australia regarding Aboriginal rights were failing. They saw a very real need for Black Australia to get the Government to consider correcting the then current conditions and in true Black Mad Men style, came up with the hook to get grab their attention.

I imagine the brainstorming meeting went something like this:

Black Peggy – We need something shiny, white people like shiny things

Black Ginsberg – No, shiny is played out, we need something completely different, something earthy

Black Ted Chough – Yes, but it has to be modern somehow

Black Ginsberg – And Helvitica, white people love them some Helvetica

Black Don Draper - Clicks his fingers – I've got it, we do it our way, our paperbark, our art, our words, but we use the Helvetica as well, we blend the two.

Black Captain Jon Luc Picard – Make it so.

However the idea was formed, it was genius. And a testament to the resourcefulness of the Yolngu people. The petition certainly caught peoples eyes, and to this day, they are a work of art that is a perfect blend of ancient and a then burgeoning modernness, I have seen them and they are breathtaking.

So look, yes, we got some constitutional change, but we still have a very long way to go. It is a wonderful thing to celebrate our culture. It is a wonderful thing to have pride in our race. It is a very wonderful thing to share our very different and vibrant cultures with everyone, but fucking hell mob, we need to keep pushing, we have to honour those that came before, by not giving up on pushing for full Constitutional recognition. We cant stop petitioning, yelling, telling anyone who will listen that we still do not have equality.

Because until this country recognises that we need a more sufficiently inclusive constitution that covers us, as the original inhabitants of this land, and accords us the rights and respects that go with that. Then celebrating a half measure made in 1967, and allowing Australia to continue thinking it has done enough is no reason to celebrate.

So, this year, I changed my Xbox bio to read Happy NAIDOC week, and along with writing this, that's all I have to say about NAIDOC week.

Monday, July 8, 2013

NAIDOC guest blog #1 - Dion Devow





My name is Dion Devow and I am an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man and the founder of Darkies Design.  I was born and raised in Darwin but moved in Canberra in 1994 to attend university and after graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Education in 1997  I decided to stay in Canberra.  On my father’s side I am Manbarra, and we are Traditional Owners for the Palm Island Group in North Queensland, and South Sea Islanders( Kanakas) from Tanna Island.  My Mothers people are from Erub or Darnley Island in the eastern Islands of the Torres Strait. 
Darkies Design is a clothing range for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I started the business because I had a concept about creating an Indigenous clothing line and was encouraged by family and close friends to create it, but also because I wanted to be able to wear fashionable clothes that expressed how proud I am of being an Indigenous Australian.  My use of the word Darkies was deliberate, in that I want to reclaim the word Darkies, hence the slogan Darkies Design- RECLAIMING THE NAME!  I’ve often asked myself, why the word Darkie or Darkies still should be seen as negative or derogatory in contemporary Indigenous society, especially when we as a people were not responsible for the derogatory or negative use of the word.  I am very proud of the colour of my skin and so are all of the Indigenous people I know, no matter how light or dark they are.  I hope that Darkies will no longer be seen as a negative word by our mob but a positive word both now and in the future. 

As the owner of Darkies Design I await the arrival of NAIDOC Week with much
excitement and anticipation.  I set Darkies Design up in 2010 to give us as Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people the ability to express how proud we are of being
Indigenous Australians by being able to wear clothing that celebrate our Culture/s
and give us a sense of pride with respect to who we are as Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people living in contemporary Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander society.  What a better week than NAIDOC week to reinforce the messages
that I am trying to share such as through the: "100% Pure Australian" range of
hoodies and tee-shirts.  This powerful message seeks to break down barriers, stamp
out discrimination and eliminate racism through its unspoken meaning that no matter whether a person is light skinned or dark skinned if they identify as an Aboriginal or
Torres Strait Islander person then this should be embraced.

NAIDOC week is always a sensational time of year as our mob get to celebrate our
culture in our way and show the rest of Australia what a strong and proud culture we
have.  When I'm out and about out events such as the ACT NAIDOC ball and AHL NAIDOC week luncheon, I love being a part of everyone coming together in harmony and love to put differences aside and unite as one to celebrate that as one of the oldest living group of peoples on earth we are still here and our culture/s remain strong!

Whilst NAIDOC week will be a very busy week for me as I am holding a stall at a couple of events, I really love yarning with people I know but also meeting new people. If you are in Parramatta on Sunday 14th July 2013 from 10:00am onwards come along to my stall at the Burramatta Family Fun Day:  http://www.communitynet.tricomm.org.au/index.php/events/community-events/61423-burramatta-family-fun-day-14-jul-2013-parramatta
Darkies Design stalls would love you to visit over the next week or so but if you are
unable to please visit the Darkies Design website:
http://www.promoconcepts.com.au/products/themed-items/darkies-design-merchandise.aspx and If you have questions about Darkies Design or just want to have a yarn then please email me: darkiesdesign@gmail.com or find me on Twitter: @DarkiesDesign

Looking forward to seeing you mob this week......be proud and celebrate!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Digital Culture & Media



Last week we were talking about 'Digital Culture & Media' as a part of #IndigenousDX and I asked a few IndigenousX tweeps to share their thoughts on the subject... 

The deadly @MartinGHodgson, @Dharawal, @RhiannaPatrick & @PaulDutton1968 were all kind enough to put a few words together for us. Each is an excellent piece in its own right, but together they are a great example of the power of #IndigenousDX in action. Thanks you mob!

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What happens when the oldest living culture on Earth comes together with the newest, Indigenous Digital Excellence? A new opportunity to share and grow existing assets. The digital world is as diverse and as eclectic as the physical world we live in. There are positives and negatives, madness and magnificence and information from all corners of the globe. Like any tool it is largely what you make of it and thankfully a growing number of Indigenous Australians are putting it to good use with the ideal of creating, exploring and sharing Indigenous Excellence.

But like everything in the digital world, change is always on the horizon and what interests me most  about the digital culture we are creating is what can we use it for next, how do we be one step ahead of the game and make the technology work for us. For me one of the most valuable aspects of the new digital culture is the ability to connect with others and with the size of the Australian land mass it has now never been easier. But it is vital we use this new opportunity in ways that benefit all and contribute to the advancement of Indigenous peoples across the land. We can work together to promote campaigns, we can raise issues of human rights abuses, we are able to lobby government with a more united digital presence, we can tell of achievement and advancement and there are digital media opportunities constantly opening up for Indigenous stories to be told by Indigenous people.
Right across this land Indigenous people and communities have very real and unique assets. When so much in the last 200 years has been focussed on the negatives the new digital world enables Indigenous people in this country to share those assets, to broaden them and to put them to work in new ways to strengthen and build sustainable futures for the next generations to come. Nothing can ever replace the oldest culture on earth, but the newest one gives it a new place to flourish in megabytes of Indigenous Excellence.


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@Dharawal

I was very lucky; I got in on the very beginning of digital media and culture, way back in 1982 when I used the $1000 I was given for my 18th birthday to buy a computer rather than a car like I was expected to.

I spent hours and hours on my computer exploring the newborn world of online culture via the first incarnation of the fore runner of the Internet in Australia, Telecoms’ Viatel videotext service along with one of the original Bulletin Boards in Australia, also run by Telecom.

This was my first introduction to the online community, exchanging news and information with people from all over the world, albeit very slowly at 300bps via an acoustic coupler, even then I could see the potential inherent in being online, how it could be expanded to cover so much more than chat and email.

This is why I think that exposure to digital media and the community surrounding it is a very important thing for all Indigenous peoples to have access too, it gives those who are typically without a voice a platform on which to express their views and opinions.

Which is why I am a firm advocate of getting the internet out to as many remote communities as possible, yes I know that access to clean water, housing and health care is of utmost importance too, but I don’t believe it’s a case of either or.

We can have that and provide access to the online world as well, and open up all sorts of educational opportunities for all Indigenous people, regardless of where they live and their economic status.
This is a platform that all Indigenous peoples should embrace.

Denise Altoff


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From No Home Computer To Now.

I never had a home computer growing up and if you’d told me 20 years ago I’d have a computer in my pocket, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able to afford one. All my assignments at school and university were handwritten. I bought my first laptop only two years ago and was mesmerised by my first smart phone and what I could do with it. I had the power like He-Man but alas couldn’t turn any of my pets into Battle Cat. 

I grew up in Cape York at a time when the town I lived in had only one TV station, the ABC, but now I can stream BBC radio into my car as I drive to work and it’s changed how I listen to radio. Twitter has been a revelation for me. I’ve got to meet a lot of First Nations people (both here in Australia and overseas) that I probably wouldn’t have had a conversation with in my non-online life. I get to share in their #IndigenousX moments, see photos of NAIDOC Week events in their part of the country or be informed about an issue in their community. 

What I love about the digital space is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get to show their diversity. We might all be Indigenous but we also have other interests, like watching Doctor Who and wanting to be the black Martha Stewart. It’s undeniable that social media’s been a powerful thing for Indigenous people everywhere. The Idle No More movement showed how an online campaign could bring a group together even if they weren’t connected online or otherwise and how it could spread beyond Canada’s borders. I’m excited about the possibilities of technology for Indigenous Australians and what this will mean for our communities in the near future. After all, I never thought I’d have access to my own computer but now I’m online 24/7 via my phone.


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The age of digital media is not only a perfect advancement for today’s society, for worldwide communication, political gain, checks and balances, for business selling and promotion but I see its biggest advantage for Indigenous Australians. How does it benefit Indigenous Australians? 

It provides a medium to promote Indigenous Culture to the world, it allows the opportunity for Indigenous communities with only pockets of strength in language, cultural knowledge and understanding to store this information, often previously held by universities and anthropologists to have it returned. For community to be able to access, learn from the stories and information of the knowledge holders, their elders, traditional owners, or as I refer to them as traditional custodians. 

The biggest benefit from digital media & culture is the ability for schools, in particular, to develop sister and brother school relationships. Schools in inner Sydney, or private school institutions with regional and especially remote Aboriginal community schools or townships. Thus enabling school age children, all ages, to be able to mix through digital communications with their counterparts. Learn Indigenous language, from community members with aid from teachers, understand culture, the towns, understand the economic, social and cultural story of where their counterparts come from. Rather than being given misinformation or half truths, or blatant lies as occurs with media commentators today. It provides a further opportunity for schools to participate in greater modules of communication and streams. Direct student contacts could be arranged after developing relationships, which in turn allows for direct learning opportunities for all students. Pen Pals used to be the greatest communication tools for young people from all over the world. 2013, that communication opportunity lies directly with digital media and it’s offshoot digital culture.

The clear dilemma for such a forum is to ensure cultural knowledge is solely owned by the community not by universities as has been stolen from community in the past. Whether that requires more unique legislation to protect cultural knowledge is maybe the primary question that needs to be addressed in company with how can digital culture be shared, to develop relationships, understanding, respect and eventually unanimous social acceptance of indigenous culture and integration. Not for indigenous peoples with anglo societal norms but non-indigenous peoples learning, living and openly being able to share in Indigenous culture.

Indigenous digital culture could well be the single next biggest development in Australia’s history for Indigenous people since the Mabo decision, which celebrated its 21st anniversary only a few days ago.

Paul Dutton


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When I think about digital culture and media I only have to look at the words above me and what they represent. 

Of the four people above I have only met one of them person, yet each I admire, respect and am proud to know and call my friend...This is the digital culture that is developing in our small pocket of the internet, amongst us and many others. 

We all do our own thing, but we are there for each other, we support each and share in each others triumphs and challenges, success and setbacks, and we have a lot of laughs, tears and rants along the way. Just like any community... 

I don't know the future of @IndigenousDX or of @IndigenousX, but I know I am grateful and humbled to be a small part of the digital community that has formed, and look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Thanks Tweeps.

Luke

Sunday, June 2, 2013

An Open Letter To People Who Feel They Are Excluded Just For Being White.



I am writing this as an open letter to any and all people who identify as 'white' AND who also often feel excluded from discussing issues of race by non-white people for the sole reason that you are a white person. 

I hate to be the one to tell it to you, but it isn't 'just' because you are white. It isn't 'reverse racism'. Our supposed unfair condemnation of white people isn't a viable excuse for your continual, wilful and blatantly unapologetic perpetuation of racist stereotypes. Also, the fact that you might have identified the same phenomenon in other groups not based on race, say disability advocates, gay marriage advocates, or feminists, doesn't meant your observations aren't still racist. If I say that Muslims and people with autism are violent, that doesn't mean I am not making a racist comment. It just means I'm also insulting people with autism. It doesn't detract from the inappropriate nature of my comment, it adds to it with another form of discrimination.

Now, just to qualify, and I know this is going to confuse a lot of you but here we go... being 'white' isn't the sole reason you get excluded from these dialogues, or from expressing your opinion without receiving an overwhelmingly consistent negative response; but it is a factor, just not the disqualifying factor which you claim it to be.

I know that seems like the most likely answer though; if you are being excluded from commenting about racism, when you are one of the least racist people in the history of the universe, and your opinions are awesome; then obviously, it must be because of something out of your control. Your 'whiteness'. But it can't be whiteness's fault... because whiteness is awesome too, and besides, it's entirely out of your control! The fault must lie with others. They must just be excluding you because you are white!! Those bastards... no wonder everyone hates them!! Not you of course, you don't. You're not racist. But still, no wonder, hey?!

Then you realise that lots of other white people are having the same experience, and expressing their own frustrations at how, even though they are totally not racist and are awesome, they too are being excluded from making comments about racism. It's an epidemic.

In fact, what it really amounts to, is racism! And the worst kind of racism too... the kind that marginalises white people...  

You should probably write a blog about this, and get the word out. If this gets any worse who knows where it could lead? Perhaps even *dum dum dum* White genocide!!

Maybe though, through your kindness and compassion, you can convince these racist non-white people to listen to your awesome idea about how to solve the 'racism problem' that you have identified. 

They just need to be nicer. To explain more. To take more time and be more patient. They need to stop throwing around the racism word so willy-nilly too. Basically, they just need to stop being so selfish, and racist, and most importantly, let you play too!! 

But before you write that blog, you might want to take a moment, a quick time out, to consider something. Nothing huge, just a little something that might be relevant to your theory... a loose end as it were.     

Turns out there's plenty of white people who feel able to talk openly and passionately about racism, and their views are recognised and respected by many non-white people too. Their whiteness is also no impediment whatsoever to their skilful avoidance of saying or doing racist things, and they seem to have no issue of being excluded or dismissed from groups or conversations purely for their whiteness, with the exact (not just the generic) people you are referring to... 

So, if plenty of white people are welcome in conversations about racism, and understand racism when they see it, and manage to avoid it themselves, then what else could it be? What else could be contributing to these people, who all hate racism, seeming to get so angry whenever you talk to them, even when they start off by saying they're happy to talk to you about racism? 

There must be some other secret, even more malicious reason going on here than the already unbelievable anti-white racism which you have so brilliantly deduced... 

Or is it possible, even remotely, that these people who all hate racism but who clearly don't hate all white people are excluding you from conversations because of anything you could be saying or doing? 

Have you considered that at all? 

Maybe you shouldn't write another blog about the generic 'they', maybe this doesn't really have anything to do with 'them'.

Imagine if you went to the doctor for help and told him that something was wrong, and he told you that you were sick, and that he knew what the sickness was, how you most likely got it and how to cure it. Would you get offended that he insulted you by calling you 'sick', or that he dared presume to know anything about you as a person? Or would you listen to him and hope that you can get it fixed?How many second opinions would you need to get before you accepted the diagnosis? Would you rather dismiss the entire field of medicine than concede that perhaps they are right?

Maybe you need help to understand this issue, maybe you need to look back over your life and try and work out how you got this sickness. Consider all the contaminants you have been exposed to. Consider how you may have overlooked some of the earlier symptoms. 

Now, to get back to the point. I'm no racism doctor, but from what I am seeing, it is very likely that you have a racism sickness. I have a good idea how you got it, and I might even be able to help you fix it. I recommend you do as much reading as you can on it, and feel free to get a second, third or even fifty-fifth opinion on it, but from the fact that you identified as one of the people I addressed this open letter to, it sounds like you have received quite a few opinions on the matter already. It sounds like your racism sickness has actually gotten so bad that you have entered the stage where you are racistly blaming others for your own racism. That's a pretty severe case. It's not 'burning crosses on the lawn' bad, but it's not good. 

And just to clarify, I don't hate you for your sickness, I don't blame you for it, and I don't believe it is incurable. But your sickness is one that unless it is treated, can cause you to say and do harmful and dangerous things. So, if you pretend like the sickness isn't real, and you start to endanger others, I will have no option but to walk away, in the interests of my own safety, and for the safety of others.

And again, it's not 'because' you are white. This sickness just seems to be far more prevalent amongst white people, which is tragically to do with the overwhelming amounts of concentrated racism that so many white people are exposed to, often from a very early age. 

This particular racism sickness, where you exhibit all the same signs as other forms of racism sickness but are ultimately convinced that you are not actually in any way racist is known as 'aversive racism'.

As this excerpt from "How Nick Cater misunderstands the debate over racism" states.

"Some psychologists refer to this as ‘aversive racism’. Discussing the research of John Dovidio and Samuel Gaertner an article in the Association of Psychological Science’s Observer explains:

Aversive racism is characteristic of many White Americans who possess strong egalitarian values and who believe that they are not prejudiced. But many also possess negative feelings and beliefs of which they are either unaware or try to dissociate from their images of themselves as being non-prejudiced.

This illustrates how the meaning of ‘racism‘ has shifted in recent decades. It no longer necessarily refers to conscious beliefs of racial superiority or feelings of hatred and contempt. For most researchers, the point is not to blame people, but to encourage them to be more aware of how their behaviour systematically disadvantages others."

Now, admittedly, because I've had aversive racists ramming both their racism and their aversion to being labelled racist down my throat for the last couple of days, and consistently for a large part of my life, I can't say that I have written this with the usual patience and generosity I am often known for... 'Patient Luke' as this approach has been dubbed lately, nor have I written in the 'Angry Luke' style which at times is seen to step in for 'Patient Luke' when he gets a bit too exhausted... I think this is what happens when both 'Patient Luke' and 'Angry Luke' take a break, and 'I'm So Over This BS And I Really Don't Care If I Hurt Your Feelings Because You Need To Hear This Luke' steps up to the plate.