The Bigotry of Low Expectations

Via the comments at Tim Worstall’s I found this article which, if it had been written as a parody, would have made the author a genius:

I’m a young Indigenous man from the south coast of New South Wales.

While growing up, I was faced with a different kind of racism.

I have always been proud of being Aboriginal, but people have always told me that I’m not.

They would say that I’m too white and I have red hair — and that these features mean I can’t be Indigenous.

Adam Piggott did a good post back in July on the Australian Aboriginal industry which allows pasty folk with dubious claims to Aboriginal ancestry to access monies, privileges, and programmes intended to assist genuine Aboriginal communities out in the bush. US Senator Elizabeth Warren did much the same, claiming Cherokee ancestry in order to land an affirmative action place at Harvard Law School, so it’s not just an Australian thing. Is this kid in the article Aborigine? Well, if Linda Sarsour can call herself black I guess he can be anything he likes. He’s not easily dissuaded, anyway:

But luckily, I’m not very good at listening to people who tell me things that I don’t want to hear.

The options in front of this boy are wide indeed, ranging from politician to corporate manager to divorced woman. But this is the passage that really stood out:

So, straight away I think of a way to show my Aboriginal background either through art, didgeridoo playing, language, stories, culture, and Aboriginal songs and dances.

I’ve created artworks for my friends and family and I’ve taught other students how to circular breathe while playing a didgeridoo.

When I was in Melbourne some government body or other put on a display of “Aboriginal culture” in Federation Square and advertised it all over town. I guessed in advance that it would consist of a bunch of primitives sat around bashing drums while metropolitan white folk looked on as if they were visiting a zoo. Child-like art would be on display wrapped in copious quantities of mumbo-jumbo. I passed by one Saturday afternoon and sure enough, that’s exactly what it was. A more patronising exhibition I couldn’t imagine, and it must have been soul-destroying for any Aborigine who aspires to be something more than a museum piece for liberal whites. Any who did would find ginger palefaces have crowded them out and, to rub salt in the wound, are now boasting about how they’ve learned the didgeridoo and circular breathing. What is absolutely certain is the urban elites don’t want these Aborigines getting off their knees any time soon or – horror! – turning up to live next door. Which is why they keep reminding them that their place in Australian society is as little more than curios, and an excuse to keep the guilt-industry motoring along on taxpayer cash.

I mentioned drums earlier for a reason. One thing supposedly right-on palefaces like to do is marvel at dark people’s “sense of rhythm”. Nobody would be interested in an Aborigine – or an African – who’d learned the violin, clarinet, or piano (none of which require rhythm, of course); all they want to do is see them whack drums in an ethnically-authentic fashion while marvelling at their supposed natural talent. South Park covered this brilliantly here:

I had occasion to stumble into some anecdotal evidence on this topic. A friend and colleague is from Jamaica but her daughter – whose father is also Jamaican – grew up in Scotland. My friend can dance as all good Jamaicans can; alas, her daughter is absolutely hopeless and has no sense of rhythm whatsoever. It seems dancing in a Caribbean manner is dependent on growing up in the Caribbean rather than genes or skin-colour. Fortunately my friend, who holds a Masters in Engineering and a PhD in something similar, grew up in an environment where education, self-sufficiency, and genuine achievement were considered more important than “keeping it real” as defined by wealthy, privileged whites; she also believes her daughter’s education is more important than her lack of dancing ability.

Maybe one day Australia’s Aborigines will enjoy such an environment, too?

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26 thoughts on “The Bigotry of Low Expectations

  1. One of the many fascinating things about Melbourne is that it was “discovered” by locals from a pub in Launceston, Tasmanaia. From a white man point of view this is true we done a deal with the local Aboriginals and staked our legal claim from that.

    I think there is something there with our ownership of land as under the Aboriginal and lets say Dreamtime system no one owned the land, I don’t know how we should right this but we whites did tuck them up on this score, at least how we did the Melbourne deal anyway.

    Coincidentally I am in in Melbourne now for a family wedding. The ceremony was held in a beautiful catholic chapel this morning in a very leafy magnificent South Melbourne suburb. The ceremony for me was very meaningful, huge turnout, the vows were solemn, the expectation were made and accepted and yes, the bride was beautiful and I mean that in all sense of the term. Just got back now from the reception which was huge and enjoyable, more so than I am used to in Australia. I would say that there was a about 10% whites there, me being part of that cohort, no Aboriginals, so we have moved on and the Aboriginal argument aint about whites anymore

  2. So, straight away I think of a way to show my Aboriginal background either through art, didgeridoo playing, language, stories, culture, and Aboriginal songs and dances.

    He’s guilty of cultural appropriation.
    Where he is “native” to and where the didgeridoo is from, are about Two Thousand Miles apart.

  3. A similar phenomenon occurs when the know-it-alls insist that Africans preserve huge swaths of land for “eco-tourism” and so that they can save their “rich culture.” Now I know it’s nice to preserve an increasingly rare habitat, but the consequence is that you eliminate more productive uses of the land that could help more people.

  4. When people have to play up their ethnicity it’s because they have little else going for them to keep up. It’s why you rarely see whites in Hong Kong playing up on their whiteness unless they’re trying to run an Irish bar because they failed at banking.

    That’s why they always end up belittling themselves and their culture.

  5. I’m a young Indigenous man from the south coast of New South Wales.

    No, mate. You are just a bell end.

  6. I don’t know how we should right this but we whites did tuck them up on this score

    Unless you have personally defrauded an Australian aboriginal recently, you’re responsible for nothing and they are owed nothing. Collective responsibility is bullshit.

    You don’t have to go back very far in history to find tons of examples of various groups of white people oppressing other groups of white people, let alone examples of non-white people oppressing white people and each other. People, in general, are dicks to people who are Not Like Them but for some reason whites are the only ones expected to feel bad about it.

  7. “…whites are the only ones expected to feel bad …”

    I see this especially when the subject is slavery. There is an unbroken line in the muslim slave trade dating back centuries and continuing to this day. Yet it’s Whites who are associated with slavery, even though the westward trade was much less than the eastward trade, and the number of slaves in North America is smaller still.

  8. When we lived in Queensland the local Abo shit-stirrer was revealed to be 0% Abo: he was part white, part negro.

    When we lived in NZ a prominent Maori shit-stirrer was revealed to be 100% Irish.

    I conclude that there must be money in the shit-stirring game.

  9. I commented on an article in The Guardian that stated that Aboriginal’s where the ‘original engineers’ because of boomerangs.

    I got banned……

  10. On the Aborigine ‘industry’: as a student of anthropology I was taught that the original Tasmanians effectively died out in 1876 with the demise of that comely little minx Truganini, but it seems the whitefella wasn’t as efficient at genocide as he’s given credit for. Censuses from the 1970s on have revealed there are several thousand indigenes on the island. Some of them share their stories here. Eagle-eyed readers will note how Truganini’s children have been forced to alter their appearances just to survive in the white supremacist cis-heteronormative patriarchy.

  11. I’m feeling charitable today. The kid’s a div, but he’s at that age where he’s trying to find something more interesting to be than himself. I guess aboriginal isn’t any worse than goth or punk or politico or whatever else teenagers decide to get into.

  12. An acquaintance of mine is/was white Jamaican. Late 1960s he got on a bus, asked the (black Jamaican) driver for a ticket to (wherever) and got thrown off the bus for taking the piss.

    About the same time, one Saturday morning the bus company (Midland Red) employees went on strike with no notice. I got to work (stacking shelves) by bike. Late morning a very large and very black gentleman in dark blue uniform with red piping came into the shop. A tiny and irate granny got stuck into him for inconsiderate behaviour. He weathered the storm, drew himself up and with magnificent dignity spoke: “Modom. I aint on de busses. I’m a postman”.

  13. the violin, clarinet, or piano (none of which require rhythm, of course)

    Are you confusing musical rhythm with the sounds produced? The rhythm is always present, but not always at the forefront of the aural spectrum within the piece (i.e. not everything has drums/percussion).

    Someone once told me he didn’t like the music I was listening to at the time because ‘it has no beat’ – he meant he preferred loud drum’n’bass or similar. And that’s fine; we’re all different.

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  15. Are you confusing musical rhythm with the sounds produced?

    No, I’m being deeply sarcastic. Of course those instruments are played with rhythm, only a white bloke playing the flute doesn’t have a semi-circle of liberals stood around him marvelling at his natural sense of it.

  16. Where he is “native” to and where the didgeridoo is from, are about Two Thousand Miles apart.

    Heh.

  17. The kid’s a div, but he’s at that age where he’s trying to find something more interesting to be than himself. I guess aboriginal isn’t any worse than goth or punk or politico or whatever else teenagers decide to get into.

    True!

  18. Gender and ethnicity are a social construct.

    Today, for example, I am a Inuit woman. I think tomorrow I shall be an ethnic Chinese Malaysian man.

    I demand that you address me as such and use the correct pronouns. “Attention-seeker” will suffice if you are unsure.

  19. I’m frequently amazed at your awareness of things going on here in the USA. Greater awareness than most Americans. I’m 91 and have outlived my most interesting peers, so you are the chosen replacement.
    Happy Christmas, and please keep up the blog.

  20. I know I’m going to regret this but what on earth is circular breathing? If breathing has a geometry then were all down the rabbit hole. There’s an idea maybe I can wrangle some of that sweet government grant money for non-Euclidean breathing.

  21. It’s breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth at the same time. For musical purposes, it means you don’t have to stop to take a breath when playing wind instruments.

  22. A relative of mine (white, hetro, with money) is involved in managing part of the local aboriginal industry in Melbourne. Buckets of money are granted to the company each year so they can “keep aboriginal culture alive”. Most of which is spent on just paying salaries to everyone involved and putting on the above mentioned zoo-like displays. It’s all a total scam.

  23. Most of which is spent on just paying salaries to everyone involved and putting on the above mentioned zoo-like displays.

    There’s a surprise, eh?

  24. I’m frequently amazed at your awareness of things going on here in the USA. Greater awareness than most Americans. I’m 91 and have outlived my most interesting peers, so you are the chosen replacement.
    Happy Christmas, and please keep up the blog.

    Thanks, Van! I’m glad you’re still reading – I remember you commenting from way back! – and still enjoying my blog. Merry Christmas to you, too!

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