Tarago Diaries #35 – Growing Up

Mark writes about growing up in Australia and race.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 2 June 2020.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/posts/2678916872214635?__tn__=K-R


Article Text

‘Growing up’
Photo by Chris Pearce

When I was a little kid living in Beaufort, I was told that Indigenous Australians were ‘a dying race.’

I must’ve asked some dumb question. Or maybe it wasn’t so dumb. After all, there’s nothing like a child’s curiosity. If ‘Aborigines’ lived in Australia before ‘the white man came’, where are they now? Where do they live? There was stuff on the tellie about them. So why weren’t there any ‘Aborigines’ near us?

I didn’t think much about the answer. When you’re young and you get told how it is by big people, you tend to take their word for it.

Back in the sixties that was just what white people believed. ‘Aborigines’ were dying out. Sad but true. It couldn’t be helped. It was a natural process. So the best we could do was to feel sorry for them and not much else.

Now in all fairness to the person who told me this, he was simply passing on received wisdom. In other words, like me he didn’t know any better and I was probably destined not to either.

Hold it right there. Question: Is this racist?

Bloody oath it is..

But see, there’s a trick here. History is story telling. The idea that an entire race of humans was going to disappear due to natural causes that had nothing to do with anything we actually did..

Well, it keeps the darker tale at bay doesn’t it? It softens the blow. And lets an entire nation off the hook.

Only problem was, It was such a ludicrous idea, it had to get busted eventually.

I mean, why would a self-respecting tribe simply down tools and say..

“Sure.. come on in.. it’s all yours. We’ll just wander off and let you have it.”

I ask you.. When in history, has that ever happened?

Well, you know man. Australia is really special right?

Of course people resisted. And of course people were murdered to make room. A thousand little secret solutions done under cover of the night..

Still, we didn’t want to think badly of ourselves, especially when hiding the evidence was not that hard anyway. At least for a while..

What really mattered in the long run was to run a story that caused the least offence to the most people.

That’s democracy. Or a version thereof.

A founding principle we ALL had a stake in..

But see, the truth was always in plain view. After all, white settlement wasn’t rocket science. Sure, it would’ve been hard yakka. It would’ve taken a lot of guts. You went out into the bush with your belongings, whole families in carts, horse drawn, loaded up with tools, food, animals in tow and of course, guns. Why guns?

To protect the bloody sheep of course!

‘Paint the tree trunks white out long the fence line so you can see their silhouettes moving in the twilight. Then sit on your verandah and wait…
with your spencer rifle across your lap.’

Of course there were massacres. Hundreds of them as it turns out. And why wouldn’t there be?

So here’s the thing. The lie has been so successful that even now, whenever racial violence erupts in other places, we quietly assume that those countries are somehow different to ours.

Isn’t it about time we grew up?