From The Guardian opinion section:
The best I can do for remote communities is to do my job as a writer and hope to change the way people think
Claire Coleman for IndigenousX
Claire G. Coleman is a Wirlomin Noongar woman whose ancestral country is the deep south of Western Australia. Her debut novel, written while travelling around the country now called Australia was the recipient of a black&write! Indigenous writing fellowship. That novel Terra Nullius has been longlisted for a Stella prize and shortlisted for an Aurealis award.
Wed 6 Feb 2019 22.26
It’s hard work being an Aboriginal writer, columnist, activist; it’s hard work and risky sticking our necks out in this increasingly polarised, dangerous and, in my opinion, increasingly white-supremacist society we call Australia. I don’t mean hard work in the digging holes sort of way or risky in the dying at sea kinda way; the labour we perform is emotional, the risk is damage to our health and threats from the outside including death threats.
Yes, I have received death threats.
Any Indigenous person who writes anything on the topic of Indigenous rights and white privilege (and for some of us it’s our job); any of us who is “uppity” enough to dare to have an opinion on our own wellbeing and on the wellbeing of our own communities must do so knowing we will be attacked and trolled.
This is the risk we take, particularly in January when it appears whitefellas are particularly sensitive. They build straw men, make logical leaps so broad I would have thought them only possible by superheroes and produce facts they refuse to back up – because there is no evidence. Then they tell us they have won the argument.
There is one particular straw man that has irritated me this month because it is insidious, compelling and effective. Essentially, it works, but not because it is brilliant logic. It works because it is emotionally powerful; it can shake us to the core. We fail again and again to avoid it, and the people who use it think it’s the killer gambit. Sometimes it is.
It is hard to come up with a reasonable response that the sort of people who would ask that question will accept. Recently it was thrown at us in a nuclear-style scorched Earth attack by Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who trolled the Indigenous population on her platform on Channel Ten. A week before that someone dropped it in my path hoping I would fall over it, imagining that as soon as it was deployed they had won the argument.
You’ve seen it before.
What are you doing for the children in remote communities?”
The best response is one that will leave the argument in pieces: I am not a social worker, therapist, medical doctor or a member of any other profession that would qualify me to do the necessary social work on the ground. I am not a parent or a member of the Indigenous families or the communities this question relates to. I have no particular skills in dealing with suicide, alcoholism or social problems; I have not been trained at this sort of work.
What use would I be in that sort of situation? I would merely get in the way.
Indeed. To encourage us to find common ground, I hereby agree with Claire G. Coleman that Claire G. Coleman should stay far away from children.