|Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2015-01-25 01:45Z by Steven|
- People who identify themselves as ‘Aboriginal’ range from dark-skinned, broad-nosed to blonde-haired, blue-eyed people.
- Aboriginal people define Aboriginality not by skin colour but by relationships.
- Light-skinned Aboriginal people often face challenges on their Aboriginal identity because of stereotyping.
Ever since white people mixed with Aboriginal people they have struggled to define who is ‘Aboriginal’.
Racist definitions of Aboriginal identity
- ‘full-blood’ as a person who had no white blood,
- ‘half-caste’ as someone with one white parent,
- ‘quadroon’ or ‘quarter-caste’ as someone with an Aboriginal grandfather or grandmother,
- ‘octoroon’ as someone whose great-grandfather or great-grandmother was Aboriginal.
These “one-dimensional models of Aboriginality”  pervaded literature of that time. Today these words are considered offensive and racist. In fact, racism lies just beneath the surface and it “bubbles out” when Aboriginal identity is discussed …
…Is there genetic proof of Aboriginality?
Proposals of genetic testing as a means of proving one’s Aboriginality have been dismissed on the grounds that ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are social, cultural and political constructs  which cannot be tested objectively.
Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian has a story to tell about genetic proof : “I have a brother (by association, and my own recognition), who has sought ‘recognition’ of his Torres Strait/Aboriginal heritage for the last five years. “This dear man comes and sits with me to tell me of the joys of his discoveries and the sorrows of hearing, ‘This is not enough.’
“His last attempt [was] back to an Aboriginal organisation in the town of his birth was met with, ‘You might have to get DNA proof’ DNA proof! I rang the Chairperson, and asked what this DNA stuff was about. I heard the phone being placed back and the line go dead.
“This man lived in this town all of his life, is known by the Chairperson, and the organisation… and only moved later in life. He is in his fifties now, and he, his wife and I have been trawling through historical documents, court documents, government documents for this ‘proof’.”…
…Most people still believe that Aboriginal people are poor, uneducated and live in the desert. But only 25% of Aboriginal people live in remote areas.
While the vibrant life of urban Aboriginal communities goes mostly unnoticed, the national eyes turn willingly to reports of violence, criminal activities or antisocial behaviour (such as drinking) which then shape the perception of urban Aboriginal identity.
Aboriginal writer Anita Heiss, author of “Am I Black Enough For You?”, describes herself as “a concrete Koori with Westfield dreaming” . She is urban, educated, glamorous and cheeky, hates camping and cannot tell the time by the sun …
Read the entire article here.