Idiots Abroad

Did I tell you I’m going to Hawai’i? Less that two weeks to go. I’ve been thinking about the conference and how in a way, people will get an understanding of our country based on their interactions with us. I’m nervous but excited.

In thinking about this, I remembered how there have been a number of famous Australians who have made complete peanuts of themselves when they attempt to talk about race and/or Indigenous Affairs.

I think PR people/ minders etc should work with their clients to come up with a set of answers that can use to respond to interviewers questions and requests. Watching these clips on YouTube you just shake your head and sigh. I still want to love this country, some folks make it so bloody hard.

Behold ….

Iggy Azalea, answer the question “How do you all treat with Aborigine People?” with “they don’t believe you should live in an enclosed structure. They live under the stars”

Nicole Kidman plays the didgeridoo while Hugh Jackman stands on one leg ….

And here is Hugh Jackman romanticising about Aboriginal people and community life. Hugh Jackman talks about working in a remote community. Un-critically, he fails to comprehend that Sydney has a large, dynamic and vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Like a lot of Australians, Jackman appears to fall into the romantic notion of what remote community people and life is like. At the end of the interview, he’s beginning to question his upbringing, and how it has helped to cause his own ignorance.

Rebel Wilson (at 3.50) talks about her Grandad’s skill in playing “Aboriginal” jokes. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were incredibly upset about it. (Note: Ironic racism is still racist).

So I’ve come up with some Dos and Don’ts for famous Australians (You can thank me later)

Some don’ts (when asked about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People) :

  • Don’t romanticise Aboriginal communities. Don’t talk about how Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are “one with the land”, have strong family connection.
  • Don’t talk about how when you’ve been in contact with Aboriginal people, you’ve begun to question the meaning of life and if there isn’t more important things out there (all the while pursuing your international career)
  • Don’t make up lies, such as Aboriginal don’t live in houses
  • Try to resist idiotic requests from interviewers who think it’s okay for your to play a didgeridoo or dance “like an Aboriginal person”
  • Don’t laugh at or about “Aboriginal” jokes

Some do’s (when asked about Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander People)

  • Do admit that Australia is a racist country, and that the colonisation and oppression of Aboriginal people is ongoing
  • Tell people that Aboriginal People have NOT ceded sovereignty to their lands, that they have not surrendered or negotiated a treaty agreement
  • Do tell people that you’re the product of your country, and that if you sound ignorant, it’s probably because you are
  • Do tell people that there is too much stereotyping and appropriation of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and other native cultures going on, in movies, fashion, popular culture
  • Do tell people that most parts of Australia are incredibly White and that most Australians do not speak a second language (unlike many people in Europe and the United States) and are ignorant about multi-culturalism
You’re welcome,


2 thoughts on “Idiots Abroad”

  1. I agree with you, and find this list helpful. Do you think there's issues with the EATSIPS framework with the country and place discussion…I always feel like it's a big generalisation. I am sticking with knowledge (for example nutrition: plants and health benefits or textiles linked with weaving and grasses etc) in my teaching…I feel like family and place is none of my business. Involved at the moment with UQ's mentoring program for young chalkface workers. Loving it.
    Don't worry…you are not going to be an idiot abroad…. 😀 x

  2. Flora, I'm not 100% certain about the EATSIPS framework as I'm not across it. I know that there is a whole bunch of learning that just hasn't happened in the past, and I'm not 100% certain it's happening now. I will have to write this up in a separate post. We should keep yarning…. 🙂

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