*Dedicating this updated post to Nova Peris today after the man who sent her messages with these words in them, pleaded guilty:
The Intergenerational Impact of Australia’s Racist History
I have often thought that those divisive, racist terms, Australia’s equivalent to the N word, the ABC of racism, have not been publicly outed here in Australia.
It’s as if those derisive names and derogatory terms have gone underground yet 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 pre-empt the following with an apology to those who are offended. In the context of the N word discussion it is important that we acknowledge the toxic, pervasive impact of the words abo, boong & coon and the inference of the superiority of one group by the demonising of another. Dehumanising words that were instilled in the post European settlement consciousness of this country.
As a migrant child in the 60’s 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 collective language and divisive stereotyping as it is when discussing personal 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, is another step in the healing process and journey of 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, which was an invasion into an occupied country whose inhabitants had highly sophisticated systems of governance & environmental practices, 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 in Australia or made accountable 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 & belief systems, the ABC – abo, boong and coon –of Australia’s shameful & very recent past is still very much alive and breathing a fresh generation of racism despite progress being made in some areas of Reconciliation and healing.
This is what the women in our Aboriginal Women’s Healing groups have told me over and over and when an Aboriginal grandmother is standing at the bus stop with her three grandchildren and a car full of teenagers drives by and calls out boongs, it is evidence that the virus of racism is still beng transmitted in Austraia today.
Definition of boong in the Urban Dictionary reveals the derogatory intent of the term: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.