And that has a flow on effect. Zeritta had a great upbringing and a good education, but she started having suicidal thoughts because her cousin killed herself. That psychology becomes normalised and it’s very sad.
One of biggest issues facing Indigenous Australians is the way they’re viewed. When I came to Australia, I expected there to be problems, but the way Indigenous people seem to still not be trusted to take care of themselves surprised me. The state still feels like there’s a need to control them and oversee every little thing they’re doing. That, to me, was drastic and shocking.
I think the issue is with empowerment. If they mess up, they mess up. But they need to have that agency in life.
There are many similarities between the way people are marginalised in America and Australia. There’s a stereotype that these people are lazy and want to take the government’s money.
The conversation about race in the US is a very hard one to have, but I think it’s even harder in Australia. For one, Indigenous people are a smaller percent of the population. Also, I think Australians have a hard time coping with what happened when Australia massacred its first people and took their lands away from them.
I would hate to say that Australia could learn much from America in terms of race relations because America is far from perfect. One thing Australians could learn from Americans is how to confront the conversation head on. You need to be willing to argue about it. In America, most people don’t agree, but the mere fact that the argument is going on helps significantly. We need to allow that argument to happen because, at the very least, the discussion can make people think twice about things and force institutions to change.
In America, there have been protests about police practice and now police departments are having to implement new policies on how they deal with people of colour – that was all because of pressure put on just by talking about it. Don’t be afraid to have a very hard discussion – and yell at each other – because you don’t know what type of change that can bring.