Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both... I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
- Thomas Jefferson
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What a lovely show and initiative from Blackfella Films and SBS. These are the conversations that spark the strength and wisdom of Australians (or anywhere in the world) to break out and move forward from a vicious cycle of cultural divide.
People who are already embracing and passionate about the plight of indigenous australians', be prepared: the show will be full of frustrating moments and outright ignorance from more than a few of the cast members.
But because 6 out of 10 Australians have no, or little contact with indigenous Australians (and the show intelligently paying tribute to this statistic by casting 6 Australians without previous relations with indigenous Australians), the likelihood of any of us coming across people with similarly devastating preconceptions are very high.
And just as it is important to first-handedly experience and emphathise with indigenous Australians, we also think it's crucial to extend our empathy and patience for those with very dividing perspectives and a strong fear of the 'other' like this show has done. Because if we don't, ignorance will keep root, continuously fuelling the vicious cycle and terminating even the will to look for and apply solutions for these generation-old problems.
The only thing we wished more from the show was a multicultural perspective to discuss the issue beyond the dichotomy of 'white and black' (which yes, makes sense considering the colonial origin of the problem), but if we are to focus on the hope for the future and less on the past, it only makes sense to include Australians with Chinese, Indian, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese origin (and many, many more) to discuss this issue as something relevant to all who live in Australia, including residents born outside of Australia (representing 27% of the population).
Episode 3 is by far our very favourite, partly because the cast members grow to show dramatic shifts from their previously disrespectful attitude, and partly because of the scene where a beautiful poem is shared written by local Fitzroy Crossing doctor, about the community's struggle and rising from generations of alcoholism and FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).
Hope in the Valley
There is hope in the valley
and it flows slow and deep
A river of life floods the plains
And it softens the tears the grandmothers weep
Like a desert refreshed by the rains
And there’s pride in the valley
those women stood strong
To stop that damned river of booze
While businessmen and countrymen swore they were wrong
But the women had too much to lose
The children are damaged before they are born
The alcohol poisons the brain
And the grandmothers grow them up, tired and forlorn
While the parents go drinking again
The river of grog is a trickle out there
And the young people hunt through the skies
For the spirits of old men with wild untamed hair
And that wise, patient gleam in the their eyes.
There’s hope in the valley
and it flows slow and deep
Like culture where life finds its themes
The river of hope has a long way to go
But it’s flowing
and so are their dreams.
SBS follows up the show with a Q&A forum with the cast members, community leaders, film maker and a studio audience. This is where some of the solutions are discussed and hence, definitely worth a watch to take down some constructive notes which may guide us forward in each of our journey. One of these ideas really stood out for us enough to tweet it!
We're still looking for our own way to be part of the solution. Through fashion and creative expression, there has to be something very exciting we can do together to empower indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians alike: Australians empowering Australians as Australians, in all the glory of our cultural and a racial diversity!
If you happen know any other Indigenous organisations or communities who are interested in collaborating with us, please let us know. We collaborate worldwide through Project Return World, so establishing personal relations with indigenous Australian photographers and models is definitely something we want to do.
We are however, open to more ideas that has the potential to truly empower indigenous Australians through creativity and fashion. If you simply have a couple ideas, feel free to share it with us and discuss it here!
A very good friend of ours has shared his opinion with us:
One thing that came up during the Insight program, towards the end, was what Aboriginal people can teach us about sustainability, about caring for the planet and each other, and how we can adopt these values into our society. This was specifically mentioned in relation to capitalism, a system of unsustainable growth. I like this idea a lot. Ditching our consumer culture and valuing Aboriginal cultural values more highly. I believe this is the way to go, not rectifying the past, but embedding the culture into the future. I think any instance of Aboriginal culture being adopted in a wider realm is an important, positive step towards healing, and in itself (where implemented properly) is deeply and truly empowering.
What are your thoughts? We would your opinions and perspectives to let our initiatives be well-informed and as respectful, inclusive and empowering as possible!
You can catch all three episodes on SBS On Demand. Videos available for free viewing till the 22nd of December.
Ryo / Nate
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