An Outsider’s Perspective

Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, said indigenous cultures were an antiquated concept and Aborigines needed to move away from the land if they were to improve their lives. "People have to move out of their ghettoised attitudes, get away from the idea that people belong in certain lands."

Mr Meyers said Aborigines who stayed in their homelands were restricting their opportunities and contributing to their own social disadvantage. "Unless the land is something valuable, unless the land is something that is making you a meaningful human being who can interact with the rest of society, then it has no value," Mr Meyers said. "What value is the land to Aboriginal people when they have all these kinds of problems, or misery, of unemployment. What value is the land to them? The land doesn't sound very valuable to me." Mr Meyers, who is on his first trip to Australia, said notions of Aboriginal identity had the potential to stop economic development and further disadvantage indigenous communities.

"(Aborigines need to) stop thinking of themselves as different from other people," he said. "Stop reinforcing negative expectations based on one's group association. It's a free world, it's a big world, get into it. Get out of those miserable conditions by any means necessary. Get the hell out of there." Mr Meyers said Aborigines needed to be prepared to move to seize educational and employment opportunities. "If I were an Aboriginal I would want to get out. I was born and raised in Harlem and as soon as I could get out I got out and never went back," said Mr Meyers, who now lives in a middle-class neighbourhood in Manhattan. Full Article, Picture Source.

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