My name is Kamahi Djordon King. I am a Gurindji Man born in Katherine NT.
Before I go into this I would like to say that this is my opinion and in no way reflects the vision and opinions of the staff or place in which I work. Now with that out of the way.
I am a visual and performing artist. Both of which have led to some amazing events in my life. I have been invited to lunch functions with the Queen, met Condoleeza Rice at her reception for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, performed to an elite crowd at the Barbican in London UK in a play that was the Headline Act for the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and beamed into millions of homes around the world singing "Treaty" at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with Yothu Yindi and the Treaty Project.
These are just a few highlights of my life. I am well-travelled. I have a job that I love in the town I was born in. And while the changes in Katherine have been immense, one thing remains the same, dare I say, is even worse. And that is the attitude towards Aboriginal people.
No matter what I have contributed to Australian society it will be forgotten the minute that I have an opinion that goes against the system that has been set up to benefit one type of person - and that is people that are white.
This not-so-new term 'White Privilege' is so successful in this country that the white people don't even know that it exists.
For us though, all I see is everyone trying to move us on. In the design of the town, in the little signs in every shop. This exclusion I talk of is not just here but all over this country. The perfect example of this exclusion is Australia Day.
Why else would you hold a day on the date that is close to the beginning of the end for a whole race of people's pride and wellbeing and way of life?
Australia Day. Invasion Day. Day of mourning. Federation Day.
Firstly. Australia Day was created in 1915 to honour our service men that fought in the war, and a national event to raise funds for troops wounded at Gallipoli. It was celebrated on July 30. Ask anyone what Australia Day represents and they will likely say: it is a day for all Australians to come together and celebrate our achievements. Only it is not a day where all Australians come together to celebrate. It is exclusive by design to exclude the first people of this land.
Australia is the only Commonwealth country that to this day does not have a Treaty with the people that were here in this country before them. Instead they chose to lie and state that it was uninhabited - Terra Nullius. What followed next was nothing short of genocide, but to put it in a way that you can understand: Aboriginal people were murdered and raped, their homelands stolen, killed off by poisoned waterholes. Persecuted. Ostracised, and still today, the treatment of the first people of this land is appalling. Stereotypes are only furthermore acknowledged by systematic racism. Take this age-old stereotype for example. "Been around 60,000 years and invented a stick."
There is a $50 note circulating featuring an Aboriginal man who invented more than a stick. David Unaipon. David was likened to Leonardo da Vinci. He invented electric sheep shears which a form of are still in use today - he was also not paid for his invention.
Among his other inventions were a centrifugal motor, a multi radial wheel and a mechanical propulsion device.
The new $50 note has replaced illustrations of his inventions with a rock and a spear. What is the message here?
Nothing was taught in school of the true nature of the settlement of this country. Growing up I was taught that Captain Cook was a hero and almost felt shame that my people had the audacity to attack him. But over time, I grew up and I learned the truth, I see the adults around me start to become stronger and have more confidence and belief in themselves.
They started to fight for my rights and theirs. That is what you are seeing today in things like a particular brand of cheese changing its name. What is the harm of this? The cheese is going to still be the same. Same recipe, same taste, one tiny difference in the name.
I was surprised to see some of my old school mates posting about it on Facebook saying things like "some people are too sensitive".
But. If you've never been called a Coon in a derogatory manner then you will never understand, and you should not have an opinion on it. You will get called out and you will have to backpedal fast. New term for you all 'White Fragility'. Look it up. I can't be bothered explaining it.
When I joined Yothu Yindi and the Treaty Project to sing at the Sydney Harbour as a part of the Australia Day celebrations, we did so amid controversy. We were to sing Treaty and Djapana. Witiyana Marika painted "Change the Date" on his body in white ochre and it stood out for miles.
The fact the song Treaty is still relevant after 26 years because there still has not been one blows my mind. We are resilient. We are still here. We will always be here. Everyone else around the world recognises what a beautiful culture we have, everyone except Australians.
Do you even know how to say 'Hello' in the language of the people who own the country that you live in? Do you even know the name of those people, what they are called? The name of their language?
At the last Australia Day celebration I was involved in, I was there because I had to work. Out of 250 or so people in the room there were four of us. Me, doing sound; my sister, the keynote speaker; my other sister, who came for support and one of the Alderman's wives. This was Australia Day in Katherine. Last Year.
A few months later Connecting Culture was put on by the Banartjal women. A celebration of all the surrounding cultures of Katherine and the Big Rivers Region. It was in response to Australia Day. Around 300 people attended, most of them white. They came to support and enjoy learning traditional methods of making bush medicine, weaving, dancing and celebrating each other.
The best thing about this day was that everyone was happy. Together and sharing themselves, their knowledge and their stories.
This is what would happen if the date was changed. That gap everyone is talking about closing would start to close. Significantly.
May 8 is the day that seems to be favourable for a change to Australia Day, and I can't agree more. It's my opinion. At least leave this one with me.