Friday, April 13, 2012

A Letter to the Prime Minister

Brian just sent this letter to the Prime Minister of Australia and cc'd the White House:

Prime Minister,
My name is Brian Loftin. I am a US citizen. 
On a recent visit to beautiful Australia, and specifically to Uluru, Mutitjulu, and Alice Springs I saw things that made me question the place of your country in the pantheon of "Great Nations," namely, the way your government is treating the Aboriginal People. 
As an American, my complaints about the treatment of indigenous peoples are admittedly a bit like the crow calling the raven black, but we now live in the 21st century--not the 19th. Before my trip I acquainted myself with your policy of "Strong Futures" as well as much material relating to the past and current situations of the First People--including the virtual holocaust of the Stolen Generations. Seeing what is happening now in the wretchedly poor communities I listed above, seeing how the white people live comfortably nearby, seeing no equality in exchanges with the people, seeing the patronizing and condescending attitude of the government in its interventionist and racist ways (I'm from the Southern US; I know it when I see it), hearing things told to my own ears that I know to be patently false is simply abhorrent. These people are living as 3rd class citizens. If you doubt me, go live in a corrugated metal shack with 20 other people for a week, and then write to me about equality and "Stronger Futures." 
Unless your government changes its attitude towards the First People, it is going to get embarrassed; it is not a question of if but when. In this day and age of social media, it's not too far fetched to get powerful people and other countries involved--just like what happened with the film "Brown Skin Baby" and what it did to your Assimilation Policy of 1937 in the early 1970's. I will do everything in my power to shine a light on what your country is doing to the oldest living culture in the world, a culture yours should be proud to have within its borders! And make no mistake, Prime Minister, the current situation of the Aboriginal People is your government's fault. This point is not rationally contestable. 
If you want the First People of Australia to succeed, as your Aboriginal Affairs Minister claims, work WITH them! Work directly with the remaining Elders, who have been making their recommendations repeatedly known, and have spoken through films such as Our Generation and Kanyini, and DO what they recommend. 40,000 years of wisdom deserve to taken into account. Do not let their cultures become extinct! Give them what they're asking for to reinstate their cultures. My government failed in this, because it thought it could parent the American Indians without any effort to understand things from their perspective. Learn from history! Do not make the same mistake we did. Leave a legacy that shows you want Australia to be taken seriously. If you were to form a true and equal relationship with ALL of your people, you would have achieved what America never really did. 
And then Australia would truly be a Great Nation!

1 comment:

BarrieLindsay said...

Hi Brian, thanks for what you are both doing. Words carry a tremendous power--both the spoken and the written. I met you at the showing of Kanyini at Guerneyville. Barrie Lindsay Aho