It’s Reconciliation Week here in Australia. A week of celebration and hope.
And yet, it feels very hard to be hopeful when I watch across the Pacific at what’s happening in the US.
I learned about George Floyd’s murder on Saturday afternoon (after a week of not checking the news or social media – a practice I highly recommend adopting from time to time). I watched in horror as I realised what had happened. That George Floyd’s murder was in fact, a lynching.
And the more I watched, the more hopeless I felt for Australia too. Because even though it’s reconciliation week, we haven’t achieved reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Even the concept of reconciliation implies something untrue. It implies that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are equal partners who’ve fallen out with one another and need to reconcile.
Of course that didn’t happen in Australia. We didn’t have a falling out. The land was stolen. The children were stolen. Language and culture was suppressed and diminished.
So the reconciliation movement is a challenging one. Because there’s no clear path for overcoming a legacy of attempted genocide. Just as there’s no clear path for overcoming a legacy of slavery.
And yet everyone knows the first step; acknowledgment. Recognition. Truth telling.
Not just of lives, communities, and cultures destroyed in the past, but of ALL the ways the past echoes within our current reality. Into the lives of Indigenous people around the world. Into the lives of people of colour in every single moment of every single day.
The past is NOT something that’s behind us. It’s informing the present in terrifying and traumatising ways.
That’s why I’m introducing a scholarship program today for Indigenous women and women of colour who would like to enrol as a student at the School of Visibility. We want to enter into a 50/50 partnership with you. We’ll cover 50% of the student fee and we’ll ask you to cover the other 50%.
To be clear; I’m not making this offer because I think BIPOC women need saving. They don’t. BIPOC women are the strongest and most resilient human beings on the planet.
I also don’t offer this as some expression of white guilt.
I offer this as a form of reparation.
Yes, reparations are generally considered the responsibility of governments. Clearly I’m not a government and I’m not personally responsible for the legacy we’re all mired in. But I am white. I have racial privilege. I’ve never known the trauma of wondering if my son will be picked up by the police and murdered after visiting the shops. I’ve never had to train my kids about how to respond when a police officer pulls them over so they don’t end up dead.
In fact, as a young woman I found myself yelling at a police officer once, pulling him away from an Aboriginal man he was grabbing. You know what happened to me? NOTHING. Nothing happened to me. I didn’t get arrested. I didn’t even get a warning. The officer stopped. He stepped back. We walked away.
That is what white privilege looks like.
White people have to take responsibility for the horrors of racism and white supremacy. Sometimes we have to take personal responsibility – for the things we’ve personally said and done, or not said and done – and sometimes we have to take collective responsibility.
Because if not us, then who?
I am one human being and this is one small thing. I wish it were more but it’s what I can offer right now. A small form of reparation. My hope is that, through the School of Visibility work, we can raise more BIPOC voices in the world and there will be a trickle effect. That BIPOC voices will grow louder and louder and louder until the world cannot help but respond.
To take up the scholarship, all you need to do is click on the BIPOC question in the application form that you’ll find right here.
And if you know a BIPOC woman who’s building a business or side gig and needs support getting herself known by more people, please send her this post. We were planning to close the doors for June enrolment today but we’ll keep them open until the end of the week so we can reach as many BIPOC women as possible.
All the information about studying with us at the School of Visibility is here.