Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stolen Children, Stolen Childhoods, Stolen.

I have been following the headlines of this story for some time. (Without reading articles. That’s how to surf news.)

A genocidal policy that was followed against a race. And it continued for years, till the 1960s. Stealing children from their mothers and fathers. Forcing them to forget their past, and upbringing. A Nazi like policy which lasted for almost 80 years and more.

It is very hard to say sorry.

But for a nation it is always harder. Maybe the current Australian government should be commended for biting down on that bitter pill.

What do I know about the Aborigines of Australia? Precious little. Interesting to me that they are also called black. Don’t think that their skin is like mine, but cant fail to wonder. This is a sad article.

But I have promised myself not to duck the fact that we can be cruel. Very cruel.

We as in human beings.

‘Edwards, 61, still remembers the taste of blackberries in her mouth the day she was "stolen" at the age of four from her mother's arms by a welfare officer.’

‘Tens of thousands of aboriginal children were forcibly taken from their parents under a government policy of assimilation from the 1880s to the 1960s. Those children are called the "Stolen Generations" or "People of the Bleaching".’

‘Edwards only discovered she was aboriginal decades later, when she received a telephone call from the sister she never knew she had, and was finally reunited with her mother in 1980.’

‘"It was believed that the aboriginal people would die out," said the author, the late Sir Ronald Wilson, in his report.’

‘The report titled "Bringing them Home" chronicled a litany of physical and sexual abuse of aboriginal children, many of whom were raised on outback government and church missions.

Interviews with elderly Aborigines tell of babies being snatched from their mother's breast by police on horseback and others being driven off, thinking they are going to a circus.

Black-and-white archival film released with the report shows rows of aboriginal children with empty faces, dressed in striped uniforms reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps, and others bent over sweeping the dirt with their bare hands.

Some aboriginal girls were put in white dresses and lined up to be inspected like virtual slaves by white foster parents looking for a healthy, strong child for domestic work.

Aboriginal boys were sent to outback cattle farms to work as free labor. Some boys were stripped naked and tied to a post in a yard and flogged for misdemeanors, said the report.

Aboriginal children were told to drink milk by some foster parents, so that they would eventually have whiter skin.

Edwards, who spent 11 years in a girls' training home in a small country town, said the Stolen Generations children were forced to forget their aboriginal past.

She recalls an aboriginal girl, whom she thought was mad, hiding under her blanket each night, desperately trying to remember her aboriginal language.

"She said: 'I was trying to remember my language under the blankets, and I just went all cold because I was being raised to think white and act white and keep myself clean, scrub my skin. Take the black of your skin'," said Edwards.’

And the consequences. Maybe still genocidal.

‘Today, thousands of adult Aborigines face a life of family breakdowns, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and mental anguish directly linked to the assimilation policy, said the report.’

Why does shit happen in this world? A perennial question. Don’t know how to answer it, since I started questioning why it does. One thing I do know, shit does happen. Always.

Yesterday, my lover and I were talking about a case of child abuse with a friend. Cant put the details on the blog. Gruesome.

My lover suddenly went off to the bedroom. Heard him sniffing. Went to find out what the problem was. He was lying on the floor, crying. Told me to go back to the sitting room where the visitor was left alone. Told me it would be ok.

Later, he told me that he was overwhelmed by the cruelty that we were talking about. Of parent to child, adult against child.

I told him that is why I want us to give our love, to children. For once he was not dismissive of the idea.



kissyfur said...

I watched a movie, dont remember the title. It was about 2 stolen boys who run away and their journey back to their family.
Saddest part is they prolly believe they are doing the right thing. pacifying them and all.

Anonymous said...

Lots of things happened last century we wouldn';t condone today. (And we'll be saying that in 100 years' time as well!).

"Don't think their skin is like mine..." ?? In what way? Human skin is human skin, epidermal layers are pretty standard for the whole human race! They will have extra melanin and fat cells for the same reason anyone evolving to live in a hot dry country does, yes?

gayuganda said...

Hi kissyfur,

Yeah, they realy believed they were doing the right thing. Stealing a child from a mother to put in an 'orphanage'.
Weird but true.
Remember the story of Zoe's Arc orphanage in Chad? Stealing children again, to take from war, as they believed, to the luxuries of Europe?

Does the good intention neutralise the horrible consequences?

Hi anonymous-

skin like mine? Was wondering about my black skin, huh? The are called black, I am called black, I am just wondering whether they have the same ebony darkness that I boast of. Simply that!


Anonymous said...

Yes actually, their skin color is a varied as our own.

I just watched a movie that had native pacific islanders in it and I'm telling you, they were better actors than some of the jokes in Hollywood!

If you can ever get a hold of it, it is called "Ten Canoes."

Anonymous said...

The movie that I am familiar with is 'Rabbit Proof Fence' and it is about 3 little girls. I HIGHLY recommend the movie.

the antipop said...

the race issue always gets me all the time. i wonder what makes a person hate the other so much just coz they are a few shades darker. sometimes whites can be prety dumb."they made them drink milk everyday so they could become white"????? really?
that shit's still happening. take wat happened to louis hammilton in spain recently. its a sad worls we live i tell you.

happy valentine's by the way

gayuganda said...


used to get to me too. Then I realised that I grew up in a very racist society. Except that this time we think of it as 'tribalism'.

I guess it is natural. We are all brought to think of ourselves as better than the 'others'. And when the others are darker, or shorter, or speak a language that we dont understand etc, then this irrational acceptance of their less than human credentials seems to take root in our very subconcsious. We simply believe it, even though we deny it.

And of course, if we learn of it, we have the chance to work out the prejudices.
Sometimes we just see those in others but not ourselves.


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