Toxic Allyship: What the mass movement gets wrong about the Indigenous identity

This form of profiteering from violence is common amongst young people and it needs to be addressed and the biggest fear of bringing Americanised race politics to this country is coming to realisation. The self-proclaimed Black Lives Matter experts that come from high-income, predominantly white private schools, who have only read about racism in the history books. The new profiteering is the momentum required to get these people on the streets, rather than stopping racism before another death, another suicide happens before our eyes. But the real anti-racism starts when these youth address that the bushman, pastoralists and farmers they came from were the murderers that lead us here.

I wrote these words four months ago…

It leaves me torn to shreds to know that in four months of supposed progress, I still feel the exact same. From the depths of social media, it’s grown more evident than ever that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody’ has become a commodified slogan for the non-effected and their desire to live American. This has served in the past year as a counter-culture to the stable rich affluent structures that the loud minority (white bad faith actors) are preaching, but people tune in. Truthfully, it’s a ticking time bomb, the cogs of this machine as many have said, requires a floor of violence. Young people watching the left-right war in America want to feel included in what fills their screens. Virality of the oppressing ‘police-state’ waging a war on Indigenous people, to fuel a systemic turn over of what currently stands.

But does my cultural and ethnic group want to be the centre of a political game for the far left and far right? Absolutely not!

In 2021, the First Peoples of Victoria established the Yoorrook Justice and Truth-Telling Commission as an independent body to investigate the historical injustices and genocide that’s built the state of Victoria since the 1700’s. What’s expected to return from this commission is a flow on effect of how the Victorian Governments oppression of Koori people has had on the structure of VicPol, state legislature and the private sector.

What could possibly be the flow on effect of bad faith for political gain in today’s decade against Indigenous people?

The fact is, everyone says ‘couldn’t be me’, but it is exactly everyone, as we all have a place to benefit from institutional racism in this country and no effort to amplify Blak voices or purchase Blak brands will diminish white fragility.

Yesterday I conducted a small research assignment amongst my peers and truly asked them, what are they doing to make change in this country. They responded blandly:

  • “Donating to Pay the Rent”
  • “I try to donate as much as I can when I can to charities trying to make change…”
  • “I’ve been trying to educate some of the people around who don’t know about colonial history”
  • “I do my best to sign petitions, purchase products that have the money going directing to indigenous artists…”

What can we all truly do to dismantle colonialism in this colony? The powers of the government hold all change at will, however the lack of drive for change amongst the most vocal is astounding and the understanding of Indigenous rights issues fall short amongst the brainwashing of American race politics.

A blindness of opinion, diminishes the complex lens we must look at colonial history with. This denies us the right to question history here without comparisons to loud nations like USA and Canada. We First Nation’s people are the longest surviving culture in the world, and the first explorers to migrate from Africa into the world of the unknown. Australia is the amalgamation of the story of the Trail of Tears, Agricultural slavery, The Black Panthers and Canadian Industrial Schools but even this thought, chains us back.

The belief that we share history is counterproductive and belittling, as First Nation’s people deserve to own our history, and not be apart of a larger narrative of global oppression. We are the bleeding heart of the consequences of Social Darwinism, and fought against segregation with our own freedom rides, against slavery with frontier wars and fought for citizenship and recognition with petitions, embassies and peaceful protests. Australia’s history is the apex of the struggle for human rights, and these comparisons to other colonies are only limiting, when we do partially share the same story, but… it is our own story.

Fragility has been destroying culture for years, the diminishing of the importance of Acknowledgements of Country, the weakening political slogans drowned by colonist voices and stolen language. Allyship is vital to progress for a free people, but the state of allyship is appropriation and theft too appear on the right side of history.

It’s time to research the 1965 Freedom Rides and 50th Anniversary of The Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

It’s time to stop using the words ‘Stolen Generation’ as a buzzword and find out what actually happened to our grandparents and never undermined the trauma carried for generations on.

It’s time to learn about Black GST and Camp Sovereignty and move from the blindness towards our true history of country and first peoples. In 2022, the co-opting of the American Black Lives Matter movement and race politics that Australia does not identify with must stop for real progress to our national story.

Article written by Jasper Cohen-Hunter

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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