Book 16 of 2014: A Rightful Place is a Quarterly Essay by Noel Pearson. The Quarterly Essay is a series of four essays a year written by current key Australians.
After reading this, I wrote Noel Pearson an email. It went...
"Hello Mr Pearson,
I have never written to anyone of worth before so forgive any mistakes I make.
I just finished reading your Quarterly Essay. I am not indigenous to this country. In fact, I am half Australian and half Papua New Guinean but I write you all the same. There is something to not belonging that I empathise with when I read what you wrote. Something raw and true.
Having never been a fan of yours, it surprised me how much I understood what you said.
You see, I grew up on Palmerston in the Northern Territory in the mid 80s to 90s. My school was less than a quarter white and that didn't seem odd to me. We used the word budju as a compliment and c*nt as a disgrace. I even still return to my parents house speaking in that manic drawl that is Darwin. There is a part of me that is goanna cooked over a fire and peanut flavoured grubs out of trees.
When I read you essay, I found a way to articulate and (sadly because it is required) defend the people I grew up with. The most amazing and ancient culture we have on earth.
I lost respect for Darwin (again) and Dickens (for the first time) and got teary at your conclusion.
I write this email because I'd like to thank you for saying it so well. For articulating your plight in a way others haven't before or maybe not so well.
You won me over, sir.
I live in Canberra. If I can ever buy you dinner and have a conversation, I would be honoured.
Damana Madden - a black Darwin girl"
I'd give it 4 non-racist remarks out of 5.
Should I read this? If you get a chance, read this. As an Australian, you should.
What did I learn? There is a way to help our first people but it means giving them control over their life and not just participation in the process.