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White Shame... 

White people have a lot to be sorry for. Our pale skinned privilege is the passport I and many others use to glide through life. We see this as our birthright. 

Every day our pages are stamped with unquestioned approval. We may pass through. Career doors open easily, people smile on the bus when we sit next to them, landlords happily hand us the key to their homes, banks approve our mortgages, police don't do a car search when they pull us over for a random breath test, shop assistants don't follow us when we're browsing and when we're gathered in a park with our family having a few beers no one slinks past in fear. 

It's just a BBQ with some Aussie larrikins, not a mob of 'drunk abbos'. I have two black sisters - beautiful, strong women who haven't had the easy passage through life that I have. They've experienced racism, whether overt or institutionalised, their whole lives. 

When I was a little girl I once refused to walk to school with Shirley because I got teased for having a black sister. I crossed the road. My grandmother found out and I got the back end of a wooden spoon. I love her for it. I still feel ashamed that I crossed the road. White people cross the road every day - we take no responsibility. Thats our shame. 

It's a white washed world. White people, predominantly white men, control the narrative around culture and identity. They decide when its Australia Day. They decide that celebrating nationhood on the day of white invasion shouldn't offend. I mean, isn't everyone ‘Australian’ now? 

They also define what ‘Australian’ is. They decide when it's sorry day. They decide what to say sorry for. Its 2019 and Ken Wyatt is the first Indigenous Australian to hold the position as Minister for Indigenous Australians. White men congratulate themselves for that - but why has it taken so long? Previous title holders have been people like Mal Brough and Philip Ruddock - just a couple of names in the long list of privileged white men (and women) entrusted with representing the interests of our first nation. 

In Queensland until the mid 1980's it was still an offence to be in the company of aboriginals for what was deemed an unnecessary length of time. Today Indigenous imprisonment rates are almost twice the non-Indigenous community. Indigenous life expectancy is more than a decade less than non-Indigenous. 

The story of the trauma of the stolen generations was in turn stolen by politicians like Kevin Rudd who nabbed himself a Martin Luther moment with the apology. His hero status eclipsed the content. White men congratulating themselves for having the courage and compassion to say sorry. 

So how have we embraced the content of that apology? By the crowds gathered to climb Uluru last Friday on the last day the rock could still be legally climbed - I'd say not very well… 

It's clear Pauline Hanson's statement 'Our country is not based on Aboriginals' is both offensive and true. The Anangu were given Uluru back 34 years ago and thats how long it took for them to enact the 'no climb' as a law at this culturally significant site. 

The hordes of people who turned up on the last day showed what absolute disregard many have for the wishes of Indigenous Australia. Pity we can't be immunised against White Entitlement. 

We're morally repugnant. A global embarrassment. I suggest we start a movement in an attempt to repatriate all the harm and hurt we've caused. It would be like Black Pride, but we call it White Shame. 

Billboards around the country could show Pauline stuck between the rock and her hard face. We could also appoint an Indigenous person as Minister for White Fella Affairs. Just one portfolio mind you. 

White Shame Day could be everyday but I have the perfect date! 26 January! 

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A Vegan Christmas 

A Vegan Xmas 

I’ve never understood why we celebrate the birth of Christ with a leg of ham. Wasn’t he Jewish? His mum was Jewish so even though Jesus was to go on to become the CEO for the Christian church he wasn’t a ham man. 

I like ham. Just not a whole leg. The idea of having to remove everything on the top shelf of my fridge to house the leg of a dead animal for a few weeks makes me feel a bit queasy. 

What’s happening to me? Have the vegans won? With 2 out of 5 of my kids vegetarian and the other 2 vegan, the whole turkey ham fest of Xmas is just a waste of flesh. No barn animal needs to die for our baby Jesus. (We’re not really Jesus people, but we do like the public holidays.) 

This year I’m going to attempt a Vegan Christmas.  Maybe I’ll stuff an eggplant with…eggplant. A bowl of nuts and a green salad and you have a vegan Jesus situation.  (Fortunately some wine is vegan.) 

I feel like the vegan theme kind of fits with the whole Virgin birth scenario - I mean Mary wasn’t into meat either… It’s not just the mindless consumption of cold meats that I am questioning - its the mindless consumption of everything. It seems ironic that we celebrate the religious significance of a humble birth with a corporate Christmas orgy of eating and gifting. 

We gift each other with shitty unwanted products mass manufactured overseas by factory workers on $2 an hour or T-shirts made by third world children for our first world children. Now isn’t that the spirit of Christmas! The exploitation of the world’s most disenfranchised. But hey! Their suffering is good for growth! 

Can you smell the third world poverty? It’s the toxic reek of new plastic. The suicidal stench of your new iPhone. I am not buying in this year. I think a Vegan Xmas has to go the whole hog (please pardon my meat-based metaphor - I promise the pig was not harmed - it’s just hard to find a vegan vocab alternative. I could go the whole capsicum..easier to change our diets first I guess, and then language will follow). 

I’m going for a fair trade Xmas. That means nothing will be purchased from a department store. I won’t be snapping up any blood tinged bargains from the clothing factories of Bangladesh. Every purchase will be conscious of where it has come from, what resources were used and who has made it and how are they paid? 

Thats why I have to start now.  If you want to make change you have to be a slow consumer. You have to do your research. You have to read labels.  You also  have to consider the need for any consumption and the environmental cost across the entire journey of the item. It’s so exhausting being conscious! 

But you can’t hear Greta’s call to arms and go back to Kmart. Even for the Santa photo. I mean where was that middle aged man sourced? Whats his beard made from? We need to start using real old fat men with real white beards. Where possible all purchases should be sourced and/or created locally. And what I buy shouldn’t be meaningless. It should have meaning and be something they are actually going to use. 

I have many adult daughters - they all have very active uteruses. Christmas is ostensibly about the ‘fruit of thy womb Jesus’ so I’m thinking of menstrual cups. After some googling I found a company that makes them here in Australia! Eco-friendly medical grade silicone. I can’t wait to see their faces! 

There’s local market stalls. There’s ceramics and jewellery made by local artisans. And there’s the op shop. When you limit your consumption to eco-friendly locally produced or fair trade products it makes you a lot more mindful about what you actually buy. And what you wrap it in. 

Generally Xmas morning in our house is a 3 garbage bag ordeal collecting a pile of discarded boxes, excess packaging and piles of cheap coloured paper. This year we’ll be wrapping gifts in banana leaves. Brown paper and string. Or felt that I’ve made from the hair I pull from the plughole in the shower. All my girls have long hair. So do I. It’s a naturally occurring resource. 

So if Mandy Nolan is going to attempt a socially conscious fair trade Vegan Xmas - why don’t you? If we all did it we’d make a significant impact and send a message that the corporate growth machine needs to be derailed. 

If I pull this off it will be a miracle. Perhaps if I’m very very good I’ll get a halo for Xmas and you can all address me by my new title ‘The Vegan Mandy’. 

For more sermons on Christmas, consumption and the felt, like my page, 

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