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Why I Burned My 'proof Of Aboriginality'

1051 words - 5 pages

I am a person of Aboriginal descent. This is nothing special; all it means is that I could trace my ancestry back to a stone-age way of life more easily, with far fewer steps, than most readers.

When I think about my Aboriginal ancestry, I feel gratitude. I feel gratitude because modernity has given me a life of ease, pleasure and privilege beyond anything an Aboriginal woman in pre-invasion Australia could possibly imagine. As a person of Aboriginal descent, and a female at that, I am grateful that I had the good fortune to be born here in Australia in 1975, and not here in say, 1775.

Perhaps life for my Aboriginal ancestors (the Bundjalung people of what is now northern NSW) had its ...view middle of the document...

I feel pride that my forbears had the sense to discard unhelpful traditions and cultural attitudes, and make the best of their lot for themselves and their offspring.

Unfortunately for me, I did not inherit the smarts of my Aboriginal ancestors. While they were obviously willing to do what they could to make the best of their situation, I simply can't do it anymore.

I used to identify as Aboriginal, and I have worked in 'identified' government positions only open to Aboriginal people. As a professional Aborigine, I could harangue a room full of people with real qualifications and decades of experience with whatever self-serving, uninformed drivel that happened to pop into my head. For this nonsense I would be rapturously applauded, never questioned, and paid well above my qualifications and experience.

I worked in excellent organisations that devoted resources to recruiting, elevating and generally indulging people like me, simply because other people like me told these organisations that's what they needed to do to 'overcome Indigenous disadvantage'.

In these organisations I worked alongside dedicated, talented and highly skilled people - and there may have been room for one more dedicated, talented and highly skilled person if I hadn't been there occupying a position designated for someone of my 'race'.

In my years of working as a professional Aborigine, I don't think I did anything that really helped anybody much at all, and I know that I was a party to unfairness, abuses of power, wastefulness and plain silliness in the name of 'reconciliation' and 'cultural sensitivity'.

Aside from a nagging sense of feeling like a complete fraud, things were reasonably OK until I made the mistake of reading works by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence and Thomas Sowell's Affirmative action around the world: an empirical study. (Please - stop reading what I have to say right now. Go and read this instead).

After that, I could no longer ignore the fact that my career was built on racism. Not 'reverse...

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