On light-skin privilege

Here is a link to an essay I wrote on skin-colour privilege that was published in Overland Journal: https://overland.org.au/2014/09/darker-than-blue-on-light-skin-privilege/

The comments in response are also interesting. I particularly appreciate this comment from JK:

I very much appreciate Natasha Guantai’s piece exploring a salient nuance around race and racialisation. Also reflecting that part of the reactive responses from some other writers, in particular Celeste and Eugenia, is that this issue of skin colour privilege is a sort of “dirty laundry” within Aboriginal communities that it feels somewhat painful to have aired by people who are not themselves Aboriginal.

That said, there is a difference between naming an issue that cuts across community lines, and “lecturing”. It seems foolhardy to pretend that these issues DON’T exist in our communities, or that it is only my unique right as an in-group person (e.g. an Aboriginal person) to mention these topics ever, if at all. Part of the reason they are dirty laundry is because they are unresolved.

I like to remain in contact with people who are sincerely committed to being part of the solution, whether they are my “in-group” or not. All the power to Natasha for especially naming this in the context of sharing her own lived experiences with this phenomenon.

Holding one another accountable for our complicities should not involve then re-appropriating the terms of the abuse of power (e.g. “lynch mob”) in order to do so. My hope is that this conversation will bring out healing for our communities who have been scarred by racism and colonisation, for too many centuries.

POSTSCRIPT: This week, Celeste posted a response to my Overland article. In it she says:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of blackness intersect with indigeneity within this country. Nobody else shares this experience. They may share elements of it, whether these elements are skin colour, or colonisation, or language loss and so forth; of course this is the case. But they are not also experiencing these things from the vantage point of being displaced peoples within their own country. That is a unique experience to Indigenous and it needs to be understood as such allowing for us to speak about this freely.

In our original twitter conversation, I said:

does this raise an intersectionality issue - Copy

So it seems that Celeste is now in agreement with this. And she was always free to speak about it. I only asked that the existence and the experiences of non-Indigenous Black Australians be respected.

And on the topic of agreement, I agree with this Noel Pearson quote in its entirety:

There are many ethnic minorities in Australia of equivalent or smaller size. Some of them face barriers of racism, but, I would argue, not to the degree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do. And these minorities are not indigenous to the nation, with the particular colonial history that brought us to where we are. Indigenous people were displaced and dispossessed in the founding of British settlement and the development of the nation. Indigenous people therefore have a unique historical and legal relationship with the Australian government.


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