My Dear Mr Egan, I cannot determine from your piece …

Comment on Make September 8 Australia Day, anthem in Pitjantjatjara by Shannon Spaulding.

My Dear Mr Egan, I cannot determine from your piece if this is satire or your genuine opinion.
I would like to call attention to something you’ve written that I take exception to, and I would like you to consider my thoughts on your thoughts. You wrote…
“…a movement led by a minority of pale-skinned First Australians unprepared to acknowledge in most cases that a major percentage of their individual DNA scores derived from the invaders.”
It is not your place – nor your responsibility – to define the identity of others by shades of a persons skin colour and adjust for “whiteness.”
When you do so in your writing, it is a means of lessening a persons identity as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Your purpose in doing so, as far as I can gather, is that if someone is pale-skinned with presumably European heritage that they somehow lack authenticity to protest with their darker-skinned relatives.
This logic is racist in its history and in its modern context.
Australia has a long history of this racist logic with blood quotas: The White Australia Policy, terms like “half-caste” etc.
I imagine a man of your age is aware that there are contemporaries of yours who had a very different childhood because of the colour of their skin. In fact the paleness of a child was a known risk factor for being stolen and put onto a mission.
The children weren’t stolen because they were pale and therefore white – the law couldn’t do this to white children – they were stolen because they were Indigenous.
The explicit purpose of these policies were to create paler and paler generations who would “pass for white” and assimilate into the dominant white culture: I’m service and labour roles. Punishments on missions included physical and verbal abuse for non assimilating behaviour, such as continuing to speak in languages other than English, dancing, sharing stories etc.
What have I interpreted from your piece?
That perhaps you too were affected by racist rhetoric and policies growing up.
Perhaps this is why you – as a man with a media platform – believe you should help the public understand that pale Indigenous Australians are mostly white Australians and thus should assimilate into White Australian culture. Or shouldn’t they be listened to as having an authentic Aboriginal perspective?
Is a person’s Indigeniety subject to public scrutiny that you try to deny them because of their skin colour or mixed heritage?
That having European and Aboriginal heritage weakens the arguments of people protesting for social and cultural justice? That they cannot speak to Indigenous issues?
Or perhaps you don’t realise that your statement regarding “a movement led by a minority of pale-skinned First Australians unprepared to acknowledge in most cases that a major percentage of their individual DNA scores derived from the invaders” is an offensive statement that is grounded in racist rhetoric best left in the past?
You cannot decide if a person is Indigenous or non-Indigenous by the colour of their skin – it is for that person to determine their own identity.
Cultural identities are divisive – people aren’t half this or half that, they are a whole person i.e. this AND that.
So please Mr Egan, consider your choice of words and arguments more thoughtfully in the future, and don’t diminish Indigenous voices in protest with “white-washing” rhetoric.

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