A day to unite or divide the nation?

Sara Hudson

22 January 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

fbb97b1c-26f4-4d5c-9aab-51d16dc9867cAustralia Day means different things to different people. For some, it is a day for flag waving, citizenship ceremonies, and backyard barbeques. Yet for many Aboriginal people, the day commemorating when the British first settled in Australia, is not a day for celebrating, but a day of mourning — known as Invasion Day.

Every year on Australia Day protest marches are held around the country with people proclaiming: “We won’t celebrate Invasion Day” “No pride in genocide” and “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.”

While people are free to do what they like on Australia Day, focusing on past injustices and portraying Aboriginal people as victims does little to empower Aboriginal people.  

Contrast the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that organisations such as Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance and First Nations Liberation embody with the words of Bess Price’s daughter, Jacinta Price — who wrote, in a recent Facebook post that has gone viral:

“Instead of teaching our kids to feel pain and resentment… and painting white people as oppressors and racists and black people as victims…let’s teach them love, strength and acceptance.”

As the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and a white father, Jacinta is acutely aware she would not exist if it weren’t for Australia’s history. Instead of emphasising people’s differences, she advocates focusing on what Australians have in common.

 “Ultimately we are all human beings and our physical differences should not set us apart.”

So on Tuesday, ignore the media reports about the protestors marching down George Street — and take on board Jacinta’s message about celebrating what unites us rather than what divides us.

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