Persona Nullis

18 Apr


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are not people. We are not persons. We are not equal to those who came later, and we are not seen by them as existing in their worldview. We are persona nullius. Not a person, just a commodity, a body to be possessed and used by settler colonization.

It’s our bodies that matter not our person. We are separated from our person and reduced to being black bodies. We are bodies for use and manipulation, to be done to, told to, and identified by the other. We are not us. Our day-to-day existence is mediated through their eyes. We do not have autonomy over our own existence.

We are not self-actualizing self-determining people. We are determined by the other. We are mediated through their worldview, their universal Language, education, and economic and spiritual paradigms. We cease to be for we are not I. We are judged and evaluated, collaborated with, and ignored according to their privileged position in our world as white supremacists.

We are possessed as goods and chattels along with our country, language, culture, and art. White possessiveness leaves nothing untouched, even the oldest continuing culture. It is ours no more. It has been appropriated to appease the consciousness of those who erased us from our own lands, taking away our relationships which had been here centuries before the Christ, capitalism, language, and law.

Our voice which once spoke bellbird clear and crisp on country has been appropriated and demeaned, devalued and destituted. Even our generous offer to walk with us has been taken and used to perpetuate political collateral, adorn corporate and institutional self-congratulation and appease the guilt of exceptionalism.

We appear in the celebration of white activism for recognition and voice only as extras – the extras of color and culture. We are not central to this story. It is no longer our story. It is theirs. Their magnanimous acceptance of our absurd generosity. The latter is forgotten as they contend to see who is the most effusive in their support for recognition and voice.

It is now a battle of the enlightened and the conservative, the progressive and the liberal. People are changing sides to ensure they are on the “winning” sone so history and voters, customers, and clients remember their benevolence towards the First People. They have zero interest in us and our genocide. They have possessed us for their own purposes.

Even the success of the Referendum will be more about them, what they did, and how they heroically stood for the people they have stolen their privilege from! Will they give up their privilege, for privilege cannot be shared, it must be relinquished?

No. because it is not about reparation and repentance, it is about appearing as if you are doing something for the First People while remaining fully in charge and maintaining the system to benefit you. The invitation is inverted and articulated as something they initiated.  A yes vote is a feel-good moment without the intention to change anything.

Our bodies are too valuable to the economy to change anything. We resource the law and order and prison systems, the welfare and medical programs of universities and hospitals, and underwrite the industry that pretends to address (read maintain) the Aboriginal deficit industry. We are weaponized in the ideological battle for the minds of mainstream Australia. We provide countless feel-good moments as the first in some field of study, career, or national representation. We provide the one thing White Australia lacks, a connection to a history more than 250 years old without the stigma of slavery, colonialism, and invasion. We provide rituals where none exist otherwise.

I seek recognition and a Voice enshrined in the Constitution and join with those who extended the generous invitation. I will take what I can get even if the reasons white Australia agree is more about them than us.

Sadly, I think that is the case.

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