how to be a good indigenous ally
January 22, 2020 8:57 PM   Subscribe

How do you cross that invisible line that takes you from being in the Aboriginal 'good books' to being on the s**t list?, writes Summer May Finlay. (SBS NITV)

"So then how do non-Aboriginal people support us but avoid paternalism and cultural appropriation? Well, the truth is there is no simple answer, and good intentions often aren’t enough."

Summer's tips "in lieu of an 'ally handbook'":
1. Preference our voices
Don’t speak on our behalf. We have a voice, and we aren’t afraid to use it.

2. Be ok with not always being part of the conversation

3. Be there for the good times *and* the bad

4. Say something when you hear someone say inappropriate things about Aboriginal people

5. Don’t take it personally when we don’t agree with you
Understand that a good ally can sometimes be wrong on issues affecting Aboriginal people. You need to be resilient like we are required to be. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and come back to the position of an ally.

6. Don’t go it alone
Don’t assume you have enough information or experience to march ahead without stopping to check with Aboriginal people that you are heading in the right direction.

7. Understand that Aboriginal people are *not* all the same
We do have different views, just like other Australians.
(Just a snippet of an excellent article, please read the whole thing!)

Author's note- it's important to note that I am not Aboriginal. (I am white.) If you missed it, this excellent Meta about #poctakeover is very recommended, as it highlights that Metafilter hasn't always done a great job of talking about race. Point 3 in "how white mefites can do better" is about dominating the conversation with performative allyship. Let's try and not do that here, while also exploring how we can be better allies.
posted by freethefeet (14 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
This is great, and the tips are very accessible and actionable!
posted by tinydancer at 9:25 PM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Here's another great list of some very practical things white allies can do, from whatshesays on Twitter.
posted by lollusc at 1:45 AM on January 23, 2020 [4 favorites]

The two that really spoke to me were 1 and 5- a kind a head slap "oh, of course!" For 1.

For five, I have definitely seen people get weirdly defensive about a whole lot of issues that aren't actually about them. The line about "be resilient, we have to" was a personal but welcome gut punch.
posted by freethefeet at 3:20 AM on January 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

7. Understand that Aboriginal people are *not* all the same

And this goes to whole cultures as well as individuals. Being surprised by, for example, broad Yorta Yorta and Gunai perspectives on some given issue being quite different is as naive as being surprised by, for example, broad French and German perspectives on some given issue being quite different.

I find it quite astonishing how hard it seems to be for many white Australians to grasp that the default assumption about the histories of this continent's nations and cultures needs to be that these are at least as intricate and diverse as those of, say, Europe's or Africa's or Asia's. The idea of a monolithic Aboriginal Culture is deeply colonialist and if it's part of your own conceptual framework then you have some remodelling to do.
posted by flabdablet at 3:40 AM on January 23, 2020 [9 favorites]

Thank you for posting this. It's very useful timing with the usual whinging about Invasion (Australia) Day just around the corner. List of protests.
posted by Jilder at 5:08 AM on January 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the “Don't expect to be welcome/liked” tip is important.

But holy actual fuck Australia: “The Intervention” — what the bloody hell are you thinking? Canada might be a shitty racist place with the Sixties Scoop and all, but at least we're trying not to keep doing shit like that.
posted by scruss at 5:29 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

what the bloody hell are you thinking?

We just elected Scotty from Marketing to run the joint. So though we may be doing many things, thinking is demonstrably not one of them.

The Intervention, by the way, is absolutely the kind of bullshit knee-jerk reactionary garbage policy that completely typified the Howard Government. The only good thing that man ever put in place was gun control. The entire rest of his time in office was spent punching down hard.

Howard was as anti-worker as they come, tenacious as fuck, and cunning as a shithouse rat. Scotty is more your glad-handing wannabe-populist empty suit. He'd have to work pretty hard to undo as much progress in this country as Howard did, but early indications are that he's giving it the old college try.

Queensland and Federal Government stances on the ongoing Adani obscenity tells you all you need to know about the state of the ongoing colonialist project in this country.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2020 [7 favorites]

 cunning as a shithouse rat

“Let's set the place on fire so people are distracted from the other shit we're doing”
posted by scruss at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

The fires are a case in point. Apart from climate change making the ground and fuels as dry as all fuck, the reason we have these massive bushfires is exactly because we don't preference indigenous voices.

We just carry on as if tens of thousands of years worth of culturally encoded fire-based land management knowledge is something we can do without because we are The English and We Know Better.

So instead of looking after country with anything even vaguely resembling the traditional range of locality- and season-specific burning regimes, we cut most of the native vegetation down and ship it offshore to turn into toilet paper, and run too-big and too-infrequent "hazard reduction" burns through the rest.

That's beginning to change in a lot of places around Australia, but there's already been a completely tragic loss of irreplaceable detailed local knowledge. Just gone. Gone forever. The systematic attempts to wreck this continent's oral cultures, apart from being, you know, fucking genocide, has been the equivalent of an ongoing library-burning rampage.
posted by flabdablet at 11:06 AM on January 23, 2020 [10 favorites]

posted by ovvl at 7:05 PM on January 23, 2020

Related YouTube link: Pay the Rent.
posted by Coaticass at 8:28 PM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some Invasion Day events for this coming Sunday, here in the best country in the world to work, to live, to raise a white family, to look forward to our appropriated future.

- Adelaide - Survival Day - from 1pm
- Armidale - Survival Day 10am 26-Jan
- Bermagui - Survival Day 2020 from 1pm 26-Jan
- Brisbane Invasion Day March and Rally #AbolishAustraliaDay from 10am
- Darwin - Always Was, Always Will Be from 11:30am
- Newcastle Invasion Day Rally
- Melbourne Invasion Day Dawn Service from 5:30am - Kings Domain Resting Place
- Melbourne Invasion Day 2020 #AbolishAustraliaDay from 11am
- Nipaluna (Hobart) - Invasion Day from 11am
- Perth - Invasion Day Rally - from 12pm
- Warrang (Sydney) Invasion Day 2020 from 11am
- Townsville Survival Day from 11am
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 PM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

meta thread for white allies.
posted by freethefeet at 3:15 PM on January 24, 2020

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