I was born on this land. The land of the Burramattagal people of the Darug mob. This land that for 60,000 years their people have lived on, cared for and protected this land, and until I was an adult, I knew nothing about them.
I love this land, it is the land that my feet have walked on for a lifetime. I love her and she has cared for me. My children were birthed here and their feet a hewn by this ground and she by them. It cared for my ancestors when they were forced from their own land in Ireland, I am the first of my American ancestors to walk here.
Bloody abos was a term I grew up hearing. Racist jokes and slurs now echo in my head evidencing the colonial mindset which still prevails and the mouths and minds of many. As much as we acknowledge the original owners of this land, and respect their elders, we are still standing on the land which was stolen, with no intention of giving it back.
The truth is that we are an English colony, till this day. We are the benefactors of the invaders, the indigenous people of this land have very little choice but to suck it up and adapt. But that is not the story we’re sold.
The truth is we are celebrating the invasion of what is now called Australia. It is still a yearly ‘f you’ we took over, live with it, to any indigenous person that might have enough hold of their own identity to know their origins. We may sell it to ourselves saying… oh well we’ve transformed the meaning of the day, it’s now just celebrating this great country. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s like transforming the word nigger, it still doesn’t lose the hundreds of years it was uttered to degrade. I can’t erase the echoes in the ears of the lynched. And sayin’ it’s just a good day for a beer and a barbie, but if that was the truth, so would any other day just without the bloody remembrance.
If the people of a colony acquired through bloodshed ever sit with themselves quietly and contemplate the land on which they sit and don’t look away, their brash “get over it” attitude might change to one of true humility, respect and gratitude.
I believe that as a people we show great generosity, compassion and understanding. The Australian spirit is famous all over the world for a reason. But if charity starts at home, maybe it’s time that we really show these people the respect of generations of lives destroyed and lost in the name of colonisation.
ANZAC Day and remembrance days are two days around all our dead that are treated as sombre and sorrowful moments. Yet on this day we don’t give the original people of this land the same respect.
So when do words and ideals translate into action and belief?