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Another Blackfella’s undefinitive guide to a culturally sensitive January 26

‘If you wanted to keep Australia Day maybe you should have done something about it'.

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In recognition of January 26, Honi is dedicating its platform this week to prioritising the voices of Indigenous people. Find out more here.


If you opened this article, it’s probably because you’ve been overwhelmed by an unusual proliferation of diverse perspectives in your media. With each day comes another thinkpiece about Australia Day. Or Invasion Day. Or Survival Day. Or the Day of Mourning. Or Justified Buffoonery Day. Or ironically-drink-scab-beer-on-a-gentrified-beach-and-listen-to-triple-j’s-Hottest-100-while-explaining-why-your-dreadlocks-aren’t-cultural-appropriation Day. Like increasingly sacrilegious hot cross buns, the build-up for these annual festivities begins well in advance, and many Australians were disgruntled as early as August last year with the release of Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri hip hop duo A.B. Original’s single “January 26”.

For those who proudly wave their flag thongs on January 26, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the litany of concerns being raised by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike. Likewise, for the Q&A-watching middle Australian who takes pride in our Indigenous cultures on Facebook but still won’t walk through the not-yet-gentrified corners of Redfern, it’s also getting much harder to tell which individual public figure they should trust for their understanding of every single Indigenous issue in the country.

For your convenience, here are some suggestions from another metonymic minority for how you might seem culturally sensitive to the complexities of the January 26 debate without actually changing any of your behaviour:

  • Share approximately one ambivalent ‘discussion’ piece per week on Facebook throughout January with the comment “makes you think”.
  • Donate $5 to that GoFundMe to put the Muslim kids back on the Australia Day billboard, then make sure to say you’re disappointed in your one Muslim friend who commented on your Twitter humblebrag that much of the Muslim community doesn’t support the continued inclusion at the expense of further marginalising Aboriginal people.
  • Enjoy the Lamb Australia ad and never admit if you’re being ironic or not because you don’t really know.
  • Consume flag-themed goods and services whose profits derive from the exploitation of stolen land, again unsure if you’re being ironic or not.
  • Interrupt your complaints about Donald Trump to exclaim how glad you are that you’re not living in such a backward nation, remaining ignorant of the 3,321 asylum seekers Australia was holding in detention at last count.
  • Never say Ms Dhu’s, TJ Hickey’s, Cameron Doomadgee’s, John Pat’s or Fella Morrison’s names because then it’s easier to pretend that genocide isn’t still happening.
  • Do not be humble, do not read widely, do not listen, do not give up your assumptions or your comfort.
  • Do nothing to serve your community or make your celebration of our suffering mean anything but the values mumbled in primary school anthems.
  • Feel guilt but swallow it on white bread with tomato sauce.
  • This time next year, join the hashtag, use the inevitable Facebook filter, and console yourself with the delusion that by relocating the genocide festivities you are supporting our communities, while we continue to die.
  • Say to the still unconverted; ‘If you wanted to keep Australia Day maybe you should have done something about it.’

If in doubt, feel free to burden your most proximate minority with your emotional turmoil.

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