Difference in treatment

May 27, 2015

I haven’t posted in ages, but this article has brought me out of the woodwork. I saw this posted by The Root via Okay Africa on Facebook. ‘Being Black in Thailand: We’re Treated Better Than Africans, and Boy Do We Hate It’. The subheading reads ‘Black expats in Thailand and Australia describe the guilt they feel living fairly privileged lives in comparison with the discrimination that African immigrants and Aborigines face.’

That subheading was an Oprah aha line! It says black expats, but  you might as well put sometimes Australian-born (or even African migrants who moved to Australia at a very young age). I have noticed that I get treated differently at times because I was born in Australia. My Dad used to say it all the time. ‘Oh Gillean, you are an Aussie. You won’t have an issue’. I know of people who have migrated from Ghana to Australia in their late teens to the 20s and complain about not getting jobs and what not because of where they are from. Most times I can’t relate because I haven’t had those experiences. Even going to Malaysia and Thailand, I could tell that people treated us differently to the African immigrants. This difference in treatment is grossly unfair.

In London, I am asked about Aborigines all the time and I never know how to articulate it. I am not Aboriginal, and Australians don’t see us the same as them. I know part of their history, I know Australia trying to play the sorry card which doesn’t equate to anything, but I don’t know how to comment on their experience and treatment because I will never understand. People ask me like their struggle is my struggle and make me feel guilty because I don’t have a horror story to support their disgust for Australia. I will never be able to comprehend the atrocities upon the Aboriginal people so many years ago and today, but I don’t see myself fit enough to comment on THEIR situation. I feel like it’s an injustice to them if I do so. I had one Aboriginal friend in my early years of high school. All I remember was that she was proud of her culture, the language her parents knew was dying out and the rest of her family lived about 6 hours away from Sydney. Do you think that’s enough to formulate a recount of her family and ancestors’ struggles? I don’t think so.

When I first moved to London a Nigerian girl I met implied that I must have been a taken from my parents since that was what happened to the Aborigines. I was lost for words. She justified her statement with saying that she’s a teacher and she knows stuff. That’s ignorance at it’s best! I posted a video a while ago about all the weird questions people had asked me in London. One guy basically cussed me for appreciating my upbringing whilst others suffered. Yes, there are injustices all over the world. I acknowledge that especially in Australia’s backyard, but I can’t carry all those injustices can I?
It got to the point where if anyone asked me about Australia, immigration, and Aborigines my answer was ‘I can’t explain it. Just come and form an opinion for yourself. Then we can have a conversation’ or ‘Find another African-Australian and get their story, because it will be different to mine!’.

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