I read and saved this article more than a year ago. The author, Sharon Livermore says a few things, that I still tend to agree with.
Taken from National Indigenous Times
Issue 117, November 2, 2006:
The attack on Aboriginal culture may be a ‘white thing’. But you can’t blame attacks on Aboriginal people by Aboriginal people on the invaders. SHARON LIVERMORE* worries that Aboriginal Australia may have lost its way.
Along with all other Koori people who care and who have not simply accepted the inevitability of domestic violence within our communities, I have continued to think long and hard about how we ever came to this place.
How we have imploded to the extent where our men are seeking to destroy the very reason for existence and survival – the continuance of our race. How did we ever think that this decimation of our communities could be acceptable or even turned a blind eye to?
One of my proudest moments as an Indigenous woman happened years ago in South Kempsey.
Some idiot was flogging and abusing his woman as they walked up Middleton Street.
As usual it was a public event. It was just on dusk and in the still of the evening these sounds rose above the normal evening sounds. As he proceeded up the street, suddenly those wonderful women from South Kempsey began appearing on every doorstep. They came over the hill to the right and up the road from the left. And they began to yell and shout…At him. “Woman basher, go home. Shame.”
And suddenly that man that had been making his woman feel ashamed and abused, had the tables turned on him. He was the one ashamed and abused, and rightly so. Just this one time I saw it. But it left a lasting impression.
Just this once this man was made to understand that it makes you no man, neither black nor white, to destroy the very reason for existence, the cradle of our future generations and the only reason we have survived.
So I have pondered long and hard to try and understand why this aberration came into being.
I have heard all the sorry stories about male disempowerment and frustration, which he then takes out on his wife. I have seen all the anger management workshops etc, but I would ask our men to consider ‘Aren’t we better than this?’ Aren’t we as a race of people whose sole reason to live was to love and share and care, better than this?
And I have thought and pondered hard on Murrandoo Yanner’s wise observance that when white man came he made black man the female element to his white male and therefore our women he made whores and vessels for his abuse and misuse. But I still ask, aren’t we better than this?
Just because the invaders said it was so, do we really have to believe it and act it out? Somewhere deep inside, something still didn’t seem to me to make sense.
It’s a bit like Crowded House’s song You Better Be Home Soon … “Somewhere deep inside, something got a hold on you, and it’s pushing me aside, see it stretch on forever and I know I’m right, for the first time in my life, that why I tell you, you better be home soon.” I bet many Koori women feel like that. They are all waiting for the real men to come home and wondering where they are. See, the problem just has to be a spiritual one.
Something deep inside our men has become so twisted and tormented and they just keep passing it down to their sons. Sometimes they make up stories to justify it and call it tradition. I just call it traditional bulls**t.
I heard one Elder giving advice, I am ashamed to say, to a young fulla, that the best way to catch a woman was with a boondi (a stick). Now that’s what I call s**t! That’s like some dirty story told behind the toilet block by immature boys. It’s time we stopped talking about culture and began manifesting it.
We talk about Aboriginal culture and every day on every street where there are Koori (Aboriginal) populations we put ourselves down by our behaviour and then we blame the white man. Well, if anyone can make me less than I am, if anyone can take away my dignity as a human being and a woman, then I am defeated and just waiting to die.
Every day we see our people abusing one another, calling one another by names they learnt from an invader (black c**t etc) and then take no responsibility for their words. Every day our kids run riot in the streets and our people drink in the streets.
I teach all the young I know not to do that. Only the dispossessed do that. And I am not dispossessed in my spirit. I am what I am and I’ll hold my head high.
How does it do any good to justify what white man made our grandmothers and mothers do, when our men treat them with so little respect and dignity and try to beat them into submission? Whoever told them they owned their women and could control their lives?
We, the sovereign people of this land, who never even claimed to own the land but only to have sovereign custodianship over it?
We who once knew no-one had the right to lay claim to or own any living things as all things belonged to the creator, who give and takes away? And how can true restoration of country ever take place when the dignity of those who also held equal custodianship and lore over this land are being treated as lesser beings put on earth only to serve the master.
What master? What lord? The only place we heard about Lords and Masters is from the English. Weren’t we horrified 200 years ago at the treatment of convicts? Did it only take so long for us to learn this wicked lesson?
Black man, you’ve lost your dreaming and your lore [law]. Your law gave you dominion over the earth. She was the one who was subject to your gentle and firm hand. She was the female element to your maleness. She was your mother/nurture. Not your wife. She made you a man, not your woman. She was your passion and you shared her with that wonderful compliment, your wife. And she [mother earth] became the inheritance to your children, who learnt through example how to be good-hearted men and women. You have really got it wrong. After all it’s still a spiritual thing. This land will only come alive and respond to true spiritual men and women. Until the day that they emerge she will lock up her secrets and refuse to yield them.
Perhaps as a final word, brothers and sisters, we had better start getting this right. After all we are the only ones who really know how to do this thing and we had better do it together because any other way it just won’t work. We need to start acting like the free people we really are because no-one can take our spirits captive — the land our children and our dreaming is a spiritual thing.
A wise man once commented, “All born in freedom, why everywhere in chains?” Well those chains are only shackles of the mind. Let’s shake them off and show this world who we truly are.
~ Sharon Livermore: An Aboriginal woman from Kempsey on the NSW North Coast