Sit down and listen to my story.
Once upon a time, a school teacher published some of his works of fiction. They sold well and he decided to continue his career as an author rather than return to teaching snotty kids.
The Australian theme of some of his works found popularity with his domestic audience and, over time, he wrote about Aboriginal matters, highlighting injustices and the egregious way they suffered since the Europeans arrived.
His writing about Aboriginal issues brought him fame and fortune, he was fêted by the media and enjoyed invitations to conferences and events. Life was good.
Over the decades, he felt an increasing affinity with the subjects of his writing. In his mind, fiction and fact mixed and his own creation story became a blurred conglomeration of truth, wishful thinking and false memories. He was becoming Aboriginal.
Maybe it started with just a little dishonesty in an interview with a journalist, a hint of a suggestion of an indigenous ancestor. He was rewarded with even more sycophancy, further publicity, more revenue flowed.
So he continued; the half-truths, the lies, the falsehoods became easier to pile on, the accretive process gained a life of its own.
He became the “go to” commentator about injustice and discrimination against Aboriginals, displacing the voices of those who actually experienced this first hand.
Perhaps, once or twice, he’d catch himself wondering about the morality of the path he’d chosen, whether it was right to allow a false narrative of his genetics and ancestry to promulgate in the public mind. Perhaps he reasoned that the good he was doing by publicising these issues outweighed the small matter of the dishonesty.
And then, one day, someone said, “BULLSHIT”.
In completely unrelated news, Bruce Pascoe has experienced a brutal takedown by academics who actually study the subject he writes about.
However, in Pascoe’s defence, I suspect there’s a large helping of total bullshit on the other side of the argument too. For example:
In 2017, her work took her to Sturt Creek in the Kimberley, where she was asked to examine burned bone fragments at a place called “the goat yards”, where more than a dozen Aboriginal people were alleged to have been massacred in 1922. The examination found nothing to dispute Aboriginal accounts of the massacre and a “very high likelihood” that the remains were human, based on the intensity of the fire in which they were burned.
If only there was a trusted scientific method of testing whether biological remains were human. CSI: Kimberley? Bueller? Anyone?
It seems to me that the people who make the most money from matters Aboriginal are those with the least Aboriginal ancestry and connection. It’s a self-saucing industry, efficiently siphoning public and charitable funds away from those living in the Red Centre, in what we might refer to as the Indigenous Monetary Complex.