I'm fair skin
I'm Ranga as well, red hair
got blue eyes
but I identify as an Aboriginal person.
The representation of Aboriginal people is always dark skin.
It's always that tourism,
"Come to Northern Territory, this is the real Aboriginal person."
And anyone else you're not.
I remember in primary school, the kids just saying,
"Well you're only like a quarter, you're not full Aboriginal."
You're constantly having to justify your identity.
The denial of Aboriginality
It is pure and simple racism.
My name's Michael James, I'm from Jervis Bay area.
I'm 17 years old, and my mob is Yuin.
My great-grandmother was full Indigenous.
My Dad and also my Pop, they married Irish women with red hair.
So that's where the mixture comes in.
The types of things that people have asked me when I've told them that I'm Indigenous
"Nah you can't be Indigenous, you're not black enough."
"What percent are you Indigenous?"
"Surely you can't be getting the benefits."
"You can't be a Jaffa."
Because Jaffa's are the little lollies that are red, and then you suck on them they go white
but then when you bite, they're black on the inside.
The first message you get, not even "Hey, how you going?
It's like "Wow, you, are your sure you're Aboriginal?"
You're too pretty to be Aboriginal.
The text read, "You don't really look Aboriginal.
Are you full?"
Like, that was just the first message that he sent me.
Who gives a fuck how much Aboriginal blood i have in my body?
You wouldn't ask that question to any other ethnicity.
That is really fucked up.
It makes me angry.
And frustrated that people can't see that, what they've actually asked and said
Like they don't see it as a bad thing.
When Georgia has brought a friend home
in general, anything Aboriginal they feel uncomfortable.
It's their own guilt.
They think that they're being attacked.
It's almost like they think
"Oh you know, her Aboriginality, it's gone away."
But it's almost like when I bring them back home that they go
"Oh, she really strongly identifies."
Officially speaking, the Governments adhere to the three-point definition of Aboriginality.
So that is you must first self-identify,
you must have evidence of your Aboriginal lineage,
and then you must also be accepted by the Aboriginal community.
My great-grandmother, she was part of the stolen generation.
But of course, even looking at me now
the stolen generation never worked.
I still identify as Aboriginal.
So when you say, "You don't look Aboriginal."
Not only are you denying the very negative history of white Australia policies.
You're denying our connection to our languages, you're denying our culture.
If someone questions my Aboriginality and they're not Indigenous,
I can sort of palm it off as, oh it's ignorance.
But I think what's really painful is when its actually coming, within your own community.
And that does happen a lot.
And what we often refer to that as, is lateral violence.
For instance, calling other Aboriginal people a coconut.
I've had that before.
Basically what that's saying, is that
you are betraying yourself as an Aboriginal person, by acting white.
I think you would find every Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander person
has experienced some form of lateral violence.
And, you know it really does hurt.
Because you're not really accepted in any part of Australian communities.
In an eagerly watched landmark case
the outspoken newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt
is being found to have breached the racial discrimination act.
The two opinion pieces Bolt wrote in the Herald Sun in 2009
implied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people claimed Aboriginality so they could access benefits.
If we look at policies, past and present policies
and the laws that prevented Aboriginal people
from progressing and participating in society.
We wouldn't need all of these initiatives.
It makes me upset because my grandmother was denied an education.
People get this misconception that Aboriginal people get all these special benefits.
That we get free cars all the time and that sort of thing.
Might put on just a bit of a snorkel, the flippers
have a look around for the abalone or whatever else is there.
Might want some sunscreen buddy.
My mate Jiah King
he's great with culture, I learn off him almost everyday.
You know about them right?
Not too sure.
You chew on the white bits to hydrate you.
Careful not to chew on the green part.
Cause it kind of works as a laxative so...
We've definitely had different experiences.
I haven't really had anyone say
"Oh, you're not Indigenous. What are you on about?"
I've had the flip side of that.
People assuming all the stereotypes of Indigenous people
and place them all upon me.
I don't believe Mike is any less Indigenous than me.
It's what's inside that counts,
he's got the culture, he's got the knowledge,
he's willing to be a part of it.
Same as the rest of us black fellas really.
How fair you are or what you look like, that's really not the point.
The point is that you have this connection
that is a part of who you are,
and up to no one else to decide that for you.
That's your identity, you own that.
I have thought maybe on a first date
If I didn't tell them I was Aboriginal
what would their behaviour be?
But then I thought, no. Never let anyone question you for who you are.
In this world there's just so much racism.
But because I'm lighter skinned people listen to me more I feel.
It gives me those opportunities,
to be able to teach them.
And one day just get rid of that stereotype.
And then there won't be so much racism.
My fair skin can actually help with fellow Indigenous people.