I was a 5-year-old standing in the empty room of my year 1 class. My mum and my teacher were standing in front of me talking. Being an innocent 5-year-old, I listen in to every word they are saying. I’m keenly excited about all things grown-up.
I hear my Mum ask about our history lessons…
Why is the class only learning history from the perspective of the settlers? And why is that same history not taught from the perspective of Aboriginal people as well?My Mum
What my teacher said, is something that took away a bit of my innocence.
My beautiful, kind, and caring teacher told my mum that she was not allowed to teach that perspective because it was not part of the education curriculum.
That moment in time began a snowball effect of questions and confusion in me.
Am I different? Why can’t the stories of my family be shared? Am I or my family or culture not welcome in school? Is who I am something that doesn’t belong? Why doesn’t my family matter?
I began to feel like I was not worthy. That there were more important or more worthy people than me because their heritage lies with the people who colonised Australia.
I because to see, more and more evidence that plainly told me that my people and my culture were not accepted within my school community. I knew the land the school was build on was land that Aboriginal people belonged to but there was no evidence of it in the school. Any existence of it had been erased, forgotten, and not to be spoken of.
Sure, my school engaged actively in NAIDOC celebrations and there was even a mural painted on a wall in Aboriginal style art. These days were the worst!
I know it might sound strange that I say that, but they were. One thing worse than being ignored, excluded, and erased, is tokenism. Aboriginal people, as well as Aboriginal children, can sense it a mile away.
You see, if you exclude a group of people and you forget about them, that’s kind of it. But when they are excluded but then are ‘allowed’ to become visible on “special” occasions, that’s a whole new story. It says that there is an awareness of them being there and they are being intentionally shut out, ignored, and excluded.
The organisation and celebration of these days by people that normally wouldn’t engage or celebrate Aboriginal people or culture any other day of the year are often pandering to the idealisation of what a “good person” does.
I’m a truth-seeker, I have been since that day, in the classroom. I search for the truth behind the actions, the truth behind the words, the truth behind the behaviours.
I’m asking you to throw out the concept of the “good person”. The “good person” is a westernised creation and concept of it means to be a moral, ethical, compassionate, and accepting person. The systems, behaviours, words, and actions of the westernised “good person” do not equate to the concept of a good person from an Aboriginal perspective.
I’m asking you to be a truth-seeker, like me. Then and only then, do you give yourself permission to hear the truth of the universe and the truth in your heart.
You can start to ask expansive questions like
“What does true inclusion really look like?”,
“what systems and institutions to I participate in that support exclusion of Aboriginal people?”,
“What behaviour, thoughts or beliefs do I have that exclude Aboriginal people and culture?”, and
“What can I do to be more inclusive of Aboriginal people and culture?”
Experiencing what I did growing up, has given me a solid foundation to understand the impacts that oppression and exclusion can cause within a human. And my children have given me the motivation to do what I can to change what is into something better and more inclusive for all. And my ancestors & guides inspire and guide me along this path.
The first leg of my journey is to spark the conversation of culturally inclusive language. The way we use language can be constructive or destructive, inclusive, or exclusive. I’m inviting all people to join me over 5 days to explore culturally inclusive language. Each day I will host a 15-20min live training session on Facebook to discuss different aspects of language and cultural inclusion. The 5-day course is free and is an introduction to culturally inclusive language.
If you would like to sign up for my free 5-day course, you can join by signing up here.
Thank you for reading and I hope you join me on this journey. An Inclusive world can only be created if we do it together.
Boorda Wangk (talk soon)