Race ya!

We have a classic good news/bad news tale for you today.

Good news: the number of Australian Aboriginal people on the national census has doubled in 20 years.

Bad news: it’s probably not because there’s many more Australian Aboriginal people.

First of all, as with all surveys, the question asked is critical:

Rather than the current question – which asks respondents whether they are of “Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin” – he wants the ABS to ask: “Are you a verified or authenticated Aboriginal person?”

Verified or authenticated. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel mild discomfort at the thought of having to prove one’s ethnicity and receive an offical confirmation?

I feel certain we’ve seen that in the past and it never really ended well.

There’s a few contradictions the linked article chooses not to discuss.

An obvious one springs from these two paragraphs (bold, mine):

Bronwyn Carlson, the head of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University, said there was no need for a “fury of panic” about the increase in Indigenous self-identification.

….It was only later in life, after researching her family history, that she wholeheartedly embraced her Aboriginal identity.

Am I reading that correctly? A person who didn’t previous realise they were Aboriginal now heads up an academic department studying matters Aboriginal? Was there no suitable applicant who was actually, y’know, raised in an Aboriginal family?

Not to labour the point, and I know one doesn’t need to be Greek to study the ancient Athenians, but it does feel like Macquarie Uni missed a golden opportunity for affirmative action in recruiting that job.

Another contradiction is the often raised subject of the historic and, sometimes claimed, ongoing genocide of this group of Australians. It’s hard to reconcile this with a doubling in 20 years of the same demographic. Perhaps this is explained by the third contradiction;

If being Aboriginal is to guarantee a life of persecution and discrimination, why are so many more people identifying as such?

Bill’s Opinion

Incentives matter. Ask Bill Pascoe.

If we legislate by ethnicity, we will eventually have to have the uncomfortable discussion about definitions of race. That will lead inevitably to definition of gradients of the ethnicity and creation of methods to prove it.

Play that movie to the end for me, please.

3 Replies to “Race ya!”

  1. When I qualified to vote I lived in the electorate of Wakefield. This electorate was for many years the stamping ground of a gentleman called Bert Kelly MHR. Bert represented us rather enthusiastically, notably with his campaign against tarrifs, and subsidies. One of Bert’s little wisdoms was that whatever is subsidised goes into over production. Not just commodities like wheat either, also unemployed, and looking in the mirror, pensioners. People generally line up anywhere they see a free to me opportunity.

  2. I am fairly sure that ‘identifying’ as something you weren’t aware you actually were (until you were educated, or incentivised that way) is a cornerstone of certain political leanings these days. Biology is so colonial.

    Unless you identify as Jedi, in which case poking fun at these VERY SERIOUS people gets your new religious identity made redundant post survey collation in the ABS. Under direction of your betters.

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