As a boomer from the 50’s I’ve seen or at times participated in rallies or change events and of late observed as we have moved in time but not always in social change.
I recall vividly in my childhood how our Aboriginals were regarded as a underclass in school and socially, not my parents view totally but it was important to be seen as just fitting in with societies views at that time.
In saying that my grandfather who was of dubitable heritage of multicultural bloodline nicknamed “Darkie” because of his dark sometimes black skin, had Im told many a confrontation with caucasians who thought he may have been aboriginal, often to their detriment physically. I witnessed a few wise cracks unknowingly at the time and learned his reputation later in life, not only as a fighter against racism but a fighter against all forms of discrimination via the Waterside Workers Federation.
At school aboriginal history was totally erased and British Colonialist culture was the curriculum, and a form of silent hate was projected as aboriginal kids did not have to attend school magnifying the black white divide.
When visiting my country relatives, I could not understand the rhetoric of the adults towards the “Boongs” as referenced but I did take it in as any kid does when you don’t understand at the time.
Life went on and it wasn’t until Cath Walker a not so famous then but Annerley local started getting press and then the conversation escalated through the community about Aboriginal rights , Bjelke Peterson versions and then it started to roll, Sam Watson, Lilla Watson, Nev Bonner, just come to mind but many more.
High school finished at 15 and to be honest I don’t recall any Aboriginal kid attending but I do recall vividly Ian King, a guy from the Gabba Police Youth Club kid who was the quickest bowler I’ve ever faced and had the best arm I’ve ever seen come to cricket training. His nickname “Rainbow”. The kids idolised him I recall and he didn’t coach to much but his presence was awesome to many.
Enter apprenticeship ShipYard and then my little world at Ekibin exploded. Multicultural was a requirement to survive, tradesmen from all over the world, all levels of society were a everyday event. Stories from the War, world conflicts, invasions, religious clashes, things never discussed in our family circle were all a every day experience at lunch times, or on job conversations, which at times amazed me why I was so naive to actual human existence elsewhere on the planet.
The trade union movement bought all those together and although the brought baggage from their lives when the met a former foe, they had to unite and that in itself healed many, but they never forgot within themselves.
Me, I came across many that helped me understand life outside family and was hard to explain to those who were in their Australian bubble and were content, but what I did discover the difference of how migrants regarded our Aboriginals oversaw we regarded them.
Many had been where the Aboriginal was/is and were not backward when we colonials behaved badly towards them. They were more compassionate than us Australians by far. Another Learning curve for me. AND that was in the late 60’s
As life went on and being a sport junkie I witnessed the Elly Bennet aftermath at the yard and watched boxers like Rose, Mundine, and lower fighters on the cards use their skills in the ring often to be ripped off by managers and discarded when they fell out of favour losing them to alcohol or worse, while white fighters we’re “looked After” better even if they did not reach the same heights of accomplishment.
That really irked by sporting ethics, probably more than my moral ethos at the time.
My career moved and I completed my apprenticeship and shifted workplaces practicing my trade still in Brisbane until industrial warfare forced me to change direction and I went off driving cabs and working at the Brisbane Markets both hotbeds of racial appreciation, while the whole time playing or coaching football with overseas players abundant, but it wasn’t until I became a manager with Telstra did it hit home again the divide between Australians on indigenous affairs.
My earlier years with the company was in the inner city and then to developing suburbs like Woodridge, Kingston, Rochdale, Eight Mile Plains, with a lower demographic, exacerbated intolerance and being in the business of communications we were in the kitchen literally and physically.
My movement the South East Queensland Manager give me an area from Walloon to the NT border as high as Birdsville and into Northern NSW. a fair track and a big classroom for me when it come to indigenous customs and affairs.
I had the honour of having some great teachers, mainly staff members of both cultures with heaps of experience briefing me or boxing my ears when needed. A experience that will last my lifetime.
Now looking at this present Black Lives Matter and looking back at where I was made aware progress has been made but its been a fight for little progress really. Politicians of all colours have failed but I am from the Labor side and that party had tried harder I believe to bridge the gap but no where near where we have to go to reach some sort of parity.
Im nearly 70, still with a a bit of sting mainly in kicking political heads via keyboard now and we need youth to stand up as we did in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s to right some wrongs but I fear the banks and financial institutions have them by the short and curlies and their sacred to stand up, unlike us where we had nothing to loose so fight we had to do.
Well some of is did, whole others freeloaded and then and still now while living on their union fought Superannuation, sick pay, pensions, medicare, yet still won’t support a fair go for all .