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.