I have often thought that those divisive, racist terms, Australia’s linguistic equivalent to the “N” word that little anglo kids were taught, caught and bought as children, – the “a” “b” word and “c” – words have not been publicly outed here in Australia…
It’s as if those derisive names and derogatory terms have gone underground but still live and perpetuate in the collective psyche today, erupting occasionally but generally not aired or brought to the light of public discussion and transformation.
I have never written the words and never speak them , so I pre-empt the following with an apology to those who are offended – In the context of the “N” word discussion I think it is important that we acknowledge the toxic, pervasive impact of the words ‘abo’ ‘boong’ and ‘coon’ and the inference of superiority of one group and the demonising of another that those words instilled in the consciousness every non-Aboriginal child in the country.
Hearing the adults use the terms in a derisive, mocking, disdainful manner transmitted their racist origins down through the generations and their legacies are alive and breathing long after the first people who uttered them have gone.
That old adage that you can’t heal it until you claim it is as relevant when discussing language and divisive stereotyping, as it is when discussing mental, emotional and Spiritual wounds.
It is the very early days of recovery from the violence of colonisation in this country and naming and accepting responsibility for the impact of the language of Australia’s history of apartheid that was linguistically coded into our schoolyards and policies in very recent times, (still is)…is another step in the healing process and restorative justice.
An Aboriginal Woman said to me recently “Unless you have experienced it, a person could never know what it feels like to have your culture, your tribe and community demonised to the point where just the word “Aborigine” triggers fear, distrust and loathing in people who have never even sat down with us and had a yarn.”
Australia’s history of ‘colonisation’ – invasion into an occupied country – is the story of many first nations people right across the globe…domination, theft, rape, genocide, kidnapping of children and loss of language and identity and the slow and painful inter-generational recovery for a nation of people living in the post traumatic state.
I sometimes wonder if people outside of Australia are aware that there are uniquely Australian counterparts to that loathesome and highly political word “nigger’
They are words that imprison the innocent and are not discussed openly for the role that they have played in demonising one race in order to serve the agenda of another. Deep within the psyche and at the fore front of many people’s thinking the A,B,C…abo, boong and coon…of Australia’s shameful past still live and breathe a fresh generation of racism despite progress being made in some areas of Reconciliation and healing.
Definition of ‘boong’ in the Urban Dictionary reveals how derogatroy the term is.Urban dictionary Definition of ‘boong’
Many Warriors are still in chains…
For more on this topic, I highly recommend the following book “Blood on the Wattle” which details the history of some of the massacres across Australia. It is a hard book to read but one that should be read by every Australian.