It’s not up to Indigenous people to educate everyone else about racism | The Canberra Times

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Over the last year, we’ve seen many non-Indigenous people with only the best of intentions, reach out to their Indigenous friends and contacts so they can better understand racial and cultural issues affecting society. While that’s a good sentiment, we think it’s important that non-Indigenous people start to do more to educate themselves to help alleviate racism and cultural insensitivity within Australia. The problem is that for any Indigenous person it becomes exhausting. It becomes a 24-7 job, constantly helping people better comprehend the historical and cultural issues at play. In our training and our book, we use the 1/30 rule to help illustrate the point. If the Australian population was a classroom of 30 children, only one of those would be Indigenous. In that situation, it would be up to the 29 children out of 30 to learn more and do more – not for that one person to educate the rest. The same applies when it comes to the country. Now, understandably, many non-Indigenous people are concerned about misappropriating the culture or perhaps teaching something that they can’t have a true understanding of. The difference is you can’t teach the culture itself – but you can teach learning about the culture. You can teach about why it is important to learn and what practical things you can do to be an ally. That’s the crucial distinction. We work with many businesses and organisations to develop their cultural awareness. The most common query is “If I want to educate myself, where do I start?” We encourage them start with the simple things: watch Indigenous programming like Black Comedy or The First Australians, films like Rabbit-Proof Fence, learn about Indigenous art. Find out which businesses near you, or online, are Indigenous-owned and support them. A recent Supply Nation study found that Indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to hire Indigenous staff. We still have an enormously long way to go in this country, but if the 29 out of 30 of us start taking steps to better educate ourselves, that can make a huge difference. Carla Rogers and Munya Andrews are cultural awareness experts with Evolve Communities. Their book, Practical Reconciliation: Strengthening Relationships for All Australians in 7 Easy Steps, is available for purchase.

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