When I was asked to write this post, I debated about what I would write for days, I struggled to string together a single sentence without deleting it.
I slowly realised that I am trying to write about myself in a way that would be appropriate and well received but I couldn’t do it, because life isn’t censored. So I decided to just write what I felt.
The theme for this year’s reconciliation week is Our history, Our story, Our future. For those of you who do not know what reconciliation week is, allow me to explain. Reconciliation week is the one week during the entire year that Indigenous Australians are celebrated; it marks the day of the 1967 referendum, Sorry day, and Mabo day.
My name is Taylah Jones and I am a proud Palawa woman, and this is my story. I was born and raised on Yorta Yorta country, and my mob Palawa, is from Tasmania. I am one of three siblings, so no, I don’t have a huge family. I have worked since I was 16, so no, I am not on Centrelink benefits, and neither are any of my family members. Yes, I am attending University, and no, I didn’t get where I am because I can tick a box. Yes, I am pale, and yes, you may think I don’t ‘look it’, and yes, I am sure I am Aboriginal.
For those of you who think these questions are stupid, ignorant, and rude, you would be right. And yes, I do actually get asked these questions, and yes, it does happen on a regular basis. Is it annoying yes, is it degrading yes, is it infuriating, yes.
When I left home to go to university I thought this would be the end of the questions. I was so wrong. Upon arriving at university on my first day, I was introduced as one of the Indigenous students before my name was used.
We are not our stereotypes, no one is. I have always been proud to say that I am Aboriginal, and I have never met someone who is ashamed of being Aboriginal.
We are all connected, not just by family… and not by some tragic event. We are connected through our culture.
As I write this, I am surrounded by some of the most caring and inspirational people I have ever met, and yes they are all Indigenous. Something people always say to me is that they don’t understand how Indigenous people always act like they know each other, when they have never met before.
Well, the answer is simple. We are all connected, not just by family (although many of us are related), and not by some tragic event. We are connected through our culture. There is a reason why the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the oldest living cultures in the world, it is because we are survivors, and we care about one another in a way that you could never understand until you are a part of such a bond. No matter where you go, and no matter what happens, you will always be surrounded by family.
This is our history, told through our stories, and we have a long future ahead of us.