ABORIGINAL PEOPLES AND Torres Strait Islanders have just marked two hundred and thirty years of patience with displaced Europeans. We choose patience because we still see and feel white people’s humanity, despite their inhumanity directed at us daily. We choose patience because we know only together will we survive climate change. Like Bourke and Wills and other failed ‘explorers’ before them, today’s European-Australians choose to simultaneously ignore and exploit Aboriginal Peoples and our knowledges: they like Aboriginal art because they can consume and own it on Western neoliberal terms, but they don’t really like Aboriginal people in their homes. They like Aboriginal knowledge in universities (for example: astronomy, bush medicines, family kinship), but only if it builds white academics’ careers and, importantly, if it does not challenge the Western canon. This is otherwise known as white supremacy. We Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and our knowledges are usually only ever acknowledged if we can make white men rich, or if we can save them from their foolery.
If you have come to help me, then you are wasting your time…
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine,
then let us work together.
Aunty Lilla Watson, 1990
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