Culture and identity: you don’t know what’s lost…

Adam Goodes.

If this name doesn’t mean anything to you it’s probably because you don’t live in Australia. Or you live under a rock. Google his name (or leave your cave for a while) and you’ll be privy to the biggest row of contemporary, grade 1A racism. Or maybe, actually don’t.

Blatant discrimination and open hatred of Australians against Aboriginal Australians never ceases to surprise me. By surprise I mean the creepy, blood curdling, ohmygodimsoterriblyembarrassedtoevenlookatyou sensation.

Look, many clever people have already said many clever words.

I don’t know what it feels like being an Aboriginal Australian in this country.

I was born and grew up in Germany, which means I’m familiar with the feeling of being part of the dominant culture whose ancestors committed terrible crimes against humanity. A nation with a bleak history to say the least, sparked by extreme racism.

Don’t worry. This is not a contest of whose nation is more racist or whose history was more violent. Every bit of discrimination is unacceptable.

As a child of the 80’s learning about Germany’s history and what devastating consequences my great grandparents’ actions had on another culture had an incredible impact on me. And so it should.

I know the history. I even felt the sadness of the history. Germans eradicated German Jewish culture from Germany. With every trace of German Jewish people vanishing so disappeared any chance of connecting or reconnecting to Jewish culture in Germany.

What’s left is sad emptiness and many, many stories about lives destroyed and abhorrent crimes committed – stories told often by non-Jewish people.

Since we don’t know any of the potential impact someone would have had, had they existed, it is almost impossible to comprehend this loss.

So the only (maybe not so clever, but deeply sincere) remark I have for Adam Goodes is: thank you for allowing me to take a glimpse into the proud and vivid Aboriginal Australian culture!

To the rest of Australia: embrace any opportunity of being exposed to a different culture. You don’t know what you’d be missing out on. Literally!

Advertisements