Should minorities be angry at the Queen?

ABC journalist Stan Grant is. He is part Aboriginal and apparently grew up among them. Some excerpts from his comments follow below after this note.

Since the Queen was a-political it is pretty dumb to blame her for ANYTHING Blame the governments of her time maybe but she had no part in their decisions or actions.

But the big problem with the sorrow he expresses below is that Grant assigns NO responsibility for what blacks underwent to Aborigines themselves. He attributes all the woe felt by Aboringines to British colonialism.

But look at another colonized group. The people of Hong Kong were until quite recently a literal Crown Colony. So how do they feel about the Queen and the British legacy? The mourning there for the Queen was epochal. It was at least as great as the demonstrations of feeling in Britain itelf. They loved the Queen.

Clrearly it was not colonialism that was bad for the colonized. It has to have been something else that caused grief to Aborigines.

And what that was is no mystery. The people of Hong Kong are Chinese and, as such, the inheritors of thousands of years of civilization. So they were well equipped to thrive under Britain's civilizing influence. So they appreciated the opportunities that Britain brought and vigorously grasped those opportunities to their own great benefit

Aborinigines, by contrast, come from the most primitive type of culture -- a hunter/gatherer culture. They had none of the mentality, customs, attitudes and skills that the Chinese do. Aborigines have traits and abilities that equip them well for their ancestral lifestyle but those same traits tend to be a hindrance rather than a help in adjusting to modern civilization.

No doubt both Aborigines and Hong Kongers were at times badly treated by their respective governments but the Aborigies did not adapt. They simply lacked the ability to do so. And from that the rest of their experience flowed. They simply could not help themselves and others were slow to come forward to help them. And now that many attempts have been made to help them there are still many who seem unhelpable. Given their origins that will continue

I called my mother this week and she told me the story of her childhood brush with royalty over again. I have thought about mum and dad and all of my family, of my people — First Nations people — who die young and live impoverished and imprisoned lives in this country.

We aren't supposed to talk about these things this week. We aren't supposed to talk about colonisation, empire, violence about Aboriginal sovereignty, not even about the republic.

We've skirted around the edges of the truth of the legacy that the Queen leaves in Australia, a reign that lasted almost a third of our colonial history.

I'm sure I am not alone amongst Indigenous people wrestling with swirling emotions. Among them has been anger. The choking asphyxiating anger at the suffering and injustice my people endure.

This anger is not good for me. It is not good for my mental health. It is not good for my physical health. I have been short of breath and dizzy.

But that is nothing compared to what too many other Indigenous people go through day after day. Those languishing in cells. Those who take their own lives. Those who are caught in endless cycles of despair.

This past week, I have been reminded what it is to come from the other side of history. History itself that is written as a hymn to whiteness.

History written by the victors and often written in blood. It is fashioned as a tale of progress, as a civilising mission.

As historian Caroline Elkins writes in Legacies of Violence, her history of the British Empire, for hundreds of millions of people "the empire's velvet glove contained an all too familiar iron fist".

From India to Africa to Ireland, the Pacific, the Caribbean and of course here, Australia, people from the other side of history have felt that fist.

It is not a zero-sum game. There are things in the British tradition that have enriched my life. But history is not weighted on the scales, it is felt in our bones. It is worn on our skin. It is scarred in memory.

How do we live with the weight of this history? How do we not fall prey to soul-destroying vengeance and resentment, yet never relent in our righteous demand for justice?

At times like these I struggle with that dilemma. Because Australia has never reached a just settlement with First Nations people.

But again, we don't talk about that this week.

I have felt a sadness at feeling adrift, estranged from friends and colleagues. Sadness at knowing that at times like these there is a chasm between us.

I have watched as others have worn black and reported on this historic event, participated in this ritual mourning. And knowing I cannot.

They come to this with no conflict. I cannot.


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