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Racism is no laughing matter

Updated on November 2, 2017
Beata Stasak profile image

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Missionaries, mercenaries, misfits and 'blackfellas'

Lola is one brave Aboriginal lady who has decided to write a script about her life in the middle of nowhere, in Alice Springs.
Lola is one brave Aboriginal lady who has decided to write a script about her life in the middle of nowhere, in Alice Springs.
She has chosen 8MMM Aboriginal Radio as the main set for her story. The radio that gives Aboriginal people a voice in a country with no ears.
She has chosen 8MMM Aboriginal Radio as the main set for her story. The radio that gives Aboriginal people a voice in a country with no ears.
And how , when all else fails, which it usually does, it is good to have a laugh. The radio is the proud voice of the 'Blackfellas' living there.
And how , when all else fails, which it usually does, it is good to have a laugh. The radio is the proud voice of the 'Blackfellas' living there.
But like most indigenous organisations. It is run by 'Whitefellas' and when non-Indigenous people come to work in Aboriginal organisations, you recognise them easily.
But like most indigenous organisations. It is run by 'Whitefellas' and when non-Indigenous people come to work in Aboriginal organisations, you recognise them easily.
They easily fall into one of three categories- missionaries, mercenaries or misfits and they all feel entitled to teach Aboriginals 'the proper way.'
They easily fall into one of three categories- missionaries, mercenaries or misfits and they all feel entitled to teach Aboriginals 'the proper way.'
At the helm of the station is local firebrand, Jessie, determined and hard working Aboriginal woman, her goal is to one day to be General Manager of the radio station.
At the helm of the station is local firebrand, Jessie, determined and hard working Aboriginal woman, her goal is to one day to be General Manager of the radio station.
Until then she is relying on 8MMM's current GM and missionary Jake for direction as he guides the other staff, which is no easy task.
Until then she is relying on 8MMM's current GM and missionary Jake for direction as he guides the other staff, which is no easy task.
Jake doesn't understand Aboriginal culture although he is trying to do the right thing. Koala, the young naive volunteer who just loves Aboriginal culture because Aboriginal babies are cute just makes you cringe.
Jake doesn't understand Aboriginal culture although he is trying to do the right thing. Koala, the young naive volunteer who just loves Aboriginal culture because Aboriginal babies are cute just makes you cringe.
'Redneck' Dave who joins in 8MMM radio because he is old and alcoholic and there is no where else for him to go makes you cringe for different reason.
'Redneck' Dave who joins in 8MMM radio because he is old and alcoholic and there is no where else for him to go makes you cringe for different reason.
He is casually racist and very proud of it as majority of white Australians are and not even aware of it. He has just no warm feelings towards 'blackfellas' even less than for 'chinks'.
He is casually racist and very proud of it as majority of white Australians are and not even aware of it. He has just no warm feelings towards 'blackfellas' even less than for 'chinks'.
After I have finished  watching all of the six series of the 8MMM Aboriginal Radio made for TV by ABC Australia, I sat and thought for a while about black comedy that is reality for so many.
After I have finished watching all of the six series of the 8MMM Aboriginal Radio made for TV by ABC Australia, I sat and thought for a while about black comedy that is reality for so many.
I have also realised that after twenty years living in Australia I am surrounded by 'Dave' types on every corner and I met very few and get truly know even less Aboriginals.
I have also realised that after twenty years living in Australia I am surrounded by 'Dave' types on every corner and I met very few and get truly know even less Aboriginals.
I also think very few non- Aboriginal Australians have watched or will watch this black comedy and it is really a pity. Tourists are usually more interested in our Aboriginal past and present than we are.
I also think very few non- Aboriginal Australians have watched or will watch this black comedy and it is really a pity. Tourists are usually more interested in our Aboriginal past and present than we are.

An eye to an eye

There was a scene in the 8MM Aboriginal Radio that stayed with me.

Lola siting on an oily rag proudly wearing the pink T-shirt of the 8MM,

she was given and her priced possession of the jar with plain biscuits in her lap.

She was told in a loving way that she is like 'furniture to the 8MM',

someone who is not paid to be there but never left.

Among so many non-Aboriginal people working there to give Aboriginal people

a voice, she is something like 'cultural Aboriginal attache'.


Jake the non-aboriginal manager is trying hard to make it work but he has no clue how. She likes him and she knows he means well. He is just young and so unaccustomed to Aboriginal ways. He is the boss because that was what 'whitefella' always been to 'blackfella' and nothing has changed.

She has no water in her house as the non Aboriginal agency responsible for maintenance do not talk to Aboriginals. Her house is falling apart and it is not even her house. Aboriginals do not own anything out there where she lives. Jake talks about reconciliation among their two nations so eloquently but all she thinks of is how to make her water in her house to run again.

'Give me an answer Lola,' he commands suddenly in frustration: "How can we achieve this reconciliation?"

"Do you have a running water in your house Jake?" She asks him instead.

"Of course, what a silly question, my house is just fine!"

"It is an important issue, can't you see?" Jake sputters in frustration.

"An eye to an eye," Lola smiles: "Not an eye for an eye, I can see, but still it is 40 degrees out there and I can live without air-conditioning but no running water that bothers me."

-------------------

I remember settling in Australia twenty years ago I have been naive just like Koala and armed with my facts I thought I can teach Aboriginal children because I have to save them. I have not understood a thing. Looking at 'Koala' character in the series makes me remember those time and cringe.

But the watching of 'Dave' character in the series makes me cringe even more because I have seen him just yesterday in the remarks of my close friends when we passed some Aboriginals in the city park when we walked towards the National Gallery.

"They should camp somewhere else, tourists will think we all live like this here in Australia, they give us bad name." My two ladies said, strolling leisury in their Sunday finery and rolling their eyes.

"Why can they live like us?" They remarked.

"You come from the Eastern Europe and still stick to your culture after twenty years in Australia," I responded back. "They never been to Eastern Europe I assume so how they could and why they should?"

Later on my two elderly ladies have been admiring the Aboriginal dot paintings and wishing to own one to display in their neat and sparkling new homes.

"Probably one of the Aboriginals we just passed painted those," I whispered in their ears.

"Not them!" They protested vehemently.

"Not them? Then who?"

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    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      21 months ago from Western Australia

      Thank you Kari you are very kind:) Yes we have to go forward with open eyes so once there will be a world where we live with an eye to an eye, not an eye for an eye:)

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      21 months ago from Ohio

      I agree it's easier to close your eyes and uncomfortable to open them. We really must open them even if it is uncomfortable. The casual racism goes on all over the world. Thank you for speaking up against it. Also, I like how you laid out this article with the pictures.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      21 months ago from Western Australia

      Thank you for your beautiful reply diogenes, yes we are all just people and majority just want to go with their lives and do our best, and yes we tend to close our eyes if it is not personally concerning us because it is easier...I am one of them and it was my own personal reflection on one ABC series that touched me and made me question why...

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      21 months ago from UK and Mexico

      Telling article, Beata: There are many good people concerned with the ongoing Aboriginal question in Oz (where I lived for 8 years), but the majority prefer to not see. Sad, they are a marvelous people with a long and colorful history and much to tell us if we could but hear.

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