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Me Monday: celebrate Australia Day? No damn way. And here’s why

An Australian flag, representing ties with England

A symbol of the ownership by England, and the star constellation called The Southern Cross #Australia #flag #changethedate #AustraliaDay @boneAndsilver

I emigrated to Australia in early January 1987, aged 20. Moved into a run-down three level terrace house in a dodgy inner suburb of Sydney, and began settling in to the new ways, sights and scents of my adopted home. The smell of sickly sweet mangoes rotting and fresh frangipani flowers still triggers memories of my first real Australian summer.

A national day of celebration was quickly upon me: January 26 is nominated as ‘Australia Day’, celebrating the first arrival of Captain Cook, who claimed this land for the British Crown. It’s a public holiday 3-day weekend, involving beer, barbecues, and ridiculous waving of the ugly Australian flag with patriotic pride.

That particular morning dawned hot, and outside our scruffy student home, on a wide street where the heat was already shimmering off the asphalt, folk began to gather in the park. There were banners, drums, didgeridoos, ochre body painting, and cardboard signs everywhere, plus lots of black.

Aboriginal flag for Invasion Day #Australia #AustraliaDay #changethedate #respect @boneAndsilver

Aboriginal flag for Invasion Day #Australia #AustraliaDay #changethedate #respect @boneAndsilver

Black armbands, black T-shirts, black flags, and of course black, brown, white, and pink faces. It was a peaceful protest parade.

Because for Australia’s indigenous population, it is a terrible day of mourning, and a reminder of the ‘sorry business’ which drenches their most recent history since Cook arrived.

Acts of murder, deliberate poisoning and introduction of diseases like Smallpox, plus the tortuous ongoing removal of children from their families:

“Official government estimates are that between one in ten and one in three indigenous Australian children were forcibly taken from their families and communities between 1910, and 1970, affecting all regions of the country.” – Wikipedia

[Have you seen ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ ? Watch it as soon as you can please.]

And we’re supposed to celebrate that?? Even after only 3 weeks in town, I knew it was wrong.

There’s a big push now to move the date of Australia Day elsewhere, and I want to add my voice. Pick any one of the other 364 days, for god’s sake! How hard can it be? It’s been re-named Invasion Day or Survival Day by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait cultures, and is a time of sorrow and remembrance.

A welcome change to the Hottest 100 date in Australia

An announcement in all the national media about moving the Hottest 100 countdown #triplej #hottest100 #changethedate #australia

But cultural change is S L O W. Yet momentum is building, and a small but significant shift happened this year for the first time: the alternative youth radio station Triple J (which I still listen to because I’m, y’know, cool, and have to keep up with ’17’s world) changed the date of their ‘Hottest 100 Songs of the Year’  (a soundtrack to all-day backyard parties across the nation) from Jan 26 to the following day, out of respect.

In this year’s Hottest 100, a Darwin-born Aboriginal artist named Baker Boy, who raps in his native language of Yolnu Matha, came in at number 17.

Aboriginal rapper Danzal Baker who performs as 'Baker Boy' #bakerboy #triplej #hottest100 #changethedate @boneAndsilver

Aboriginal rapper Danzal Baker who performs as ‘Baker Boy’ #bakerboy #triplej #hottest100 #changethedate @boneAndsilver

“It’s perfect, so I can actually feel comfortable and have fun, instead of just thinking about what happened in Australia that day,” he said. “It’s a massive change, especiall­y for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people.”- NT News, Jan 28, 2018

Let’s celebrate with him; for the survival of his people, for their creativity and determination, and for the wicked dance beats he’s offering us in healing- such a killer chorus, and check out the synchro dance moves!

Please enjoy this live performance clip here:

Baker Boy ‘Marryuna’ Live at Triple J Unearthed

And Australia: #changethedate

In gratitude for social evolution, G xO 

 

PS: I’m submitting this as part of Forgiving Fridays at ForgivingConnects, for without acknowledgment and forgiveness, we can’t move forward.

33 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this! Like Alexis, I had no idea that this had been happening and it made me very angry! What a horrible thing to do to these families. It makes me ill. I watched the trailers for the movie and definitely have to find it. I’m not a fan of rap, but wow! Baker Boy was awesome! Great song, great artist, awesome beat and great choreography and dancers. Thank you for enlightening me. 😊💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Walt, thank you so much for reading it all. Another intense film to watch is ‘The Proposition’ (screenplay by singer Nick Cave), which gives another viewpoint. Yes, our history of The Stolen Generation is something to make us all feel ill I’m afraid, and has such ongoing terrible repercussions, as you can imagine ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel much the same way about our own Columbus Day, though that day does not inspire quite the same level of Bacchanalia as July 4th does. Like most “Monday” holidays, it has become a vehicle for sales and other commercialism. Which may be all for the best. Columbus was no hero.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, as I was writing this I wondered if you all had a similar day I should be comparing it to? *sighs
      It does all become about sales though, that’s true, particularly of beer down here : (

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wait, I am not understanding why you say to change it to another day of the year. I am missing the part where that would be less bad on another day, if it is indeed celebrating that the continent got stolen and the people there harmed–do you mean have one day for mourning that it got stolen and then another day for those who are happy it was…? I missed something. Thanks for your patience in explaining what I missed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry Donnalee, I will look at how to make it clearer- Jan 26 is the day Cook landed and ‘stole’ the country- there is a valid push to make that the day of mourning. But we are all here now, and there is also much to celebrate, so having a National day of celebration is important too- decades ago, it was in July- so the call is to move the celebration day to another date, and continue the conversation and apologies for the Mourning day- the black history of this country has been well-hidden and denied for generations- but for healing and moving forward, there needs to be an acknowledgement of what actually happened… hope that’s clearer?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll echo other’s comments on appreciation for my education. I learned more of AU history, and I do agree with the idea of celebrating Australia and australians on a different day, and commemorating the invasion and appropriation of the aboriginals and their way of life. Day of mourning is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steph; it’s a tricky subject, and causing no end of debate and acrimony here, but there’s no getting away from the horrors of history, and we need to if we’re going to reconcile and move forward. Complex times everywhere it seems. Thanks for reading, G

      Like

  5. I am so glad to read this post. I feel exactly the same way. Funny that we are both Triple J fans after decades too! I support the day being changed and also that Triple J changed the date out of respect. Our First Nations people are right to call it Invasion Day, and I have started using that word to my own children. We don’t celebrate it either.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really interesting, Gabrielle. Thank you. I was just in a meeting this morning where we talked about the value of really talking with each other….with interest, just to know more about the other person. That comes forward for me when I read this post! Sending blessings to all involved for Australia Day. You have a great way of writing. Love, Debbie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The irony of Australia day is that we’re not that patriotic anyway. It’s just an excuse to have a 3 day weekend and a bbq. The groundswell of change is growing though. I’d like to see a new day and the aboriginal flag accepted as /our/ flag, for all aussies. The flag is beautiful, and it expresses what we are now. -fingers crossed-

    Liked by 2 people

    • Totally agree, and one of the things that I love about Aussies is how much they love to have a day off and relax, or ‘chuck a sickie’! But we need to honour the dead, and the day needs more reverence & intention than it’s getting now. A new flag too, yes, but not purely the Aboriginal one, that’s theirs; we need a new combo I reckon… fingers crossed indeed : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Given how long it took for marriage equality to finally get past the politicians, I’m not holding my breath. I personally would like to see Australia Day changed to the day on which we actually became a nation. That makes more sense to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s always made me curious that Australia day should be linked with the day they landed in Sydney (and unleashed the terror) and not the day when Australia was united on the 1 January 1901.

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  9. Pingback: Today’s Forgiving Fridays: Taking a Leap of Faith – ForgivingConnects

  10. Although I was aware of the history you mentioned here, I didn’t know about Australia Day. It is time to rethink and thoughtfully create events that are inclusive to all. When you figure it out maybe you can come help all of us in the U.S. Every small step forward matters. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ok Ali, I’ll get onto it ASAP, then definitely bring it over to you! If only it were that simple hey? Or perhaps it IS, yet those in charge are too scared of the change, the need for kindness, & the expressing of Love? 🙏🏼❤
      Thank you for reading and commenting, G 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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