Sunday, June 24, 2018
A few days ago, while whimsying about post-Colonialist Hong Kong, it occurred to me that it has been nearly 200 years since the Opium Wars – almost as long ago as one of the more memorable milestones in Australia’s modern history, the bicentenary of 1988. For Indigenous Australians, that was 200 years of mass murders, abuse, gentrification, disease, and – let’s face it – invasion.
It never occurred to me that we have that in common.
The difference is, in 200 years, Indigenous Australians never got their land back. We did. Our language, our culture, and our people thrived. Their language was all but wiped out, their culture struggling for acceptance, their people disadvantaged in health and education, their children stolen from their mother’s arms.
And some of us have the gall to tell them “Mate, get over it. It’s all done and gone in history. Let it go before you start a race war” and “I was born here. My descendants had nothing to do with this. Move on!” These are quotes I’ve taken directly from an SBS news story that documents the lesser known massacres of Indigenous Australians. There are, not surprisingly, many like them.
The suffering of my forebears do not define who I am, but I carry it with me: we can forgive, but never forget. When some mouthy Colonialist tells me to “get over it” when it comes to Hong Kong, it takes everything for me to not lash out; because for me, having been told by my parents, my grandparents, and my great grandparents of everything that happened, it is all still very fresh.
I imagine it would be just as fresh for Indigenous Australians.