Beyond White Guilt: The Real Challenge for Black-White Relations in Australia

Beyond White Guilt: The Real Challenge for Black-White Relations in Australia

Beyond White Guilt: The Real Challenge for Black-White Relations in Australia

Beyond White Guilt: The Real Challenge for Black-White Relations in Australia

Excerpt

… we, too, peoples of Europe, we are being decolonized: meaning the colonist inside every
one of us is surgically extracted in a bloody operation. Let’s take a good look at ourselves,
if we have the courage, and let’s see what has become of us
.

Jean-Paul Sartre, 1961

For over a decade I have had the good fortune to live in the inner west of Sydney, within walking distance of the Cooks River. Most weekends I take the opportunity to walk down to the river and either walk or run along the paths that follow the course of the waterway. The poor Cooks River has been brutalised since the arrival of the British in 1788, damaged by the agriculture and industry that grew on its shores, including market gardens, a sugar mill, tanneries and wool scours, which resulted in high levels of pollution and siltation. Today the river is known as one of the most polluted and most altered waterways in Australia. While a friend of mine who grew up in the area can remember swimming there as a child, current pollution levels are such that only the hardiest of water birds dare enter. Regular warnings are issued against eating fish caught in the river, although every weekend there are a stalwart few who refuse to be dissuaded from casting a recreational line. Until recently, ugly and rusted steel piling covered over large sections of the river’s bank, although work has now been undertaken to reconstruct a more ‘natural’ shoreline. Even with this improvement, however, there is little of the original . . .

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