Why I burned my ‘Proof of Aboriginality’

by on 27 September, 2012

I don't usually direct people to read our online taxpayer-funded government propaganda mouthpiece, The Drum, but today is an exception with this must-read column by Kerryn Pholi.

An extract: 

I used to identify as Aboriginal, and I have worked in 'identified' government positions only open to Aboriginal people.  As a professional Aborigine, I could harangue a room full of people with real qualifications and decades of experience with whatever self-serving, uninformed drivel that happened to pop into my head. For this nonsense I would be rapturously applauded, never questioned, and paid well above my qualifications and experience.

I worked in excellent organisations that devoted resources to recruiting, elevating and generally indulging people like me, simply because other people like me told these organisations that's what they needed to do to 'overcome Indigenous disadvantage'.

In these organisations I worked alongside dedicated, talented and highly skilled people – and there may have been room for one more dedicated, talented and highly skilled person if I hadn't been there occupying a position designated for someone of my 'race'.

In my years of working as a professional Aborigine, I don't think I did anything that really helped anybody much at all, and I know that I was a party to unfairness, abuses of power, wastefulness and plain silliness in the name of 'reconciliation' and 'cultural sensitivity'.

Aside from a nagging sense of feeling like a complete fraud, things were reasonably OK until I made the mistake of reading works by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence and Thomas Sowell's Affirmative action around the world: an empirical study. (Please – stop reading what I have to say right now. Go and read this instead).

After that, I could no longer ignore the fact that my career was built on racism. Not 'reverse racism' or 'positive discrimination' – just plain racism, of benefit to nobody except a select gang of privileged people with the right genes and a piece of paper to prove it. In other words, of benefit only to people like me.

About 18 months ago I burned my 'proof of Aboriginality' documentation (a letter from the NSW Department of Education acknowledging that I was Aboriginal, on the basis that my local Aboriginal Lands Council at that time, circa 1990, had said so). I walked away from the Aboriginal industry for good.

Seriously, read the whole thing. 

Leave a Reply