Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Nov 17 13:38:22 UTC 2008

White 'gatekeepers' part of black problem; Leftist knowalls hinder
rather than help

INDIGENOUS leader Warren Mundine has attacked ideologically driven
white "gatekeepers" in Aboriginal communities, saying one of the
biggest problems they have is "people who want to protect Aboriginal
people". "There are some people who seem to go to these communities
who, quite frankly, wouldn't get a job outside," Mr Mundine said.
"There are other ones who go there who are totally ideologically
driven and become gatekeepers. In fact one of the biggest problems we
have is people who want to protect Aboriginal people. "It drives me to
no end of madness. "We have people also who are going into the
communities and they are not moving on and letting Aboriginal people
move up and take over those positions."

The former national Labor president's comments came after indigenous
educator Chris Sarra sparked an angry reaction when he told The
Weekend Australian that while Aborigines were blamed for the
dysfunction in their communities, the standard of services and the
people providing them were not subject to the same scrutiny. "In its
crudest form, remote communities are the place to tuck our white trash
away," Dr Sarra said.

While Mr Mundine said he thought Dr Sarra's comments were a bit
strong, he understood his frustration, particularly in the area of
education, "because the statistics are telling us that the education
system is failing Aboriginal people miserably and has been failing
Aboriginal people for a long time".

Dr Sarra, executive director of the Indigenous Education Leadership
Institute at the Queensland University of Technology, yesterday
retreated from his choice of words, saying he would never use the term
again. "If I had my time again I would use the term lazy and
incompetent," he said.

But he stood by his central claim that white workers in education,
health, police and public service who would not be able to hold down
jobs in larger communities were a major part of the problem for
Aboriginal Australia. "I stand by what I said - the language was
unfortunate," he said. "A lot of people are saying this (the white
trash comment) is stereotyping and this is despicable language and I
absolutely agree with them," Dr Sarra said. "I had not intended it to
bemalicious." But he said experienced and hardworking white people in
remote communities would not be offended by the comments "because they
know exactly what I'm talking about".

Dr Sarra said after his comments in The Weekend Australian he had
received many emails saying his language was not acceptable. He is
also being heavily criticised by readers on The Australian's website.
One reader wrote: "Imagine if a white academic, or any academic or
anyone for that matter, called Dr Sarra a black bum or wog. Not
acceptable these days, but reverse racism, no make that, racism full
stop against whites is acceptable." Another wrote: "I am an
electrician that has worked out at several communities does that make
me white trash?"

Dr Sarra himself posted a response yesterday: "Imagine then what it is
like for Aboriginal people to be continually described stereotypically
as drunks, child abusers, wife bashers, and some of the things that
some of you describe here, when clearly this is not the absolute
truth." He told The Australian he agreed with many of the criticisms
because the phrase he had used was despicable. But he said there was a
common saying in many Aboriginal communities - "upright and with a
heart beat" (if you are upright and have a heartbeat you are good
enough to teach).

He said he was told recently of a school in Queensland where on
Fridays it was common for only half the students to turn up. The
teachers took those who did turn up fishing or swimming, but a good
teacher, he said, would use the opportunity of a smaller class to
better help those who had attended.

Mr Mundine also yesterday backed the Northern Territory Government's
plan to force Aboriginal bilingual schools to teach the first four
hours of classes each day in English.

The principal of the Areyonga School, Tarna Andrews, said that English
was a second or third language for many of the school's 42 children
and the new policy spelled the end of a focus on traditional
Pitjantjatjara language and culture. "I want to keep my language going
in the school, the kids' language - we want to keep the kids in two
ways, not only one way," she told ABC radio. "It will die, the
language will die. The school is a place where the kids learn proper

Mr Mundine said he supported bilingual education. While English
provided the tools for living in "the real world", traditional
languages enhanced culture and self-esteem. "Kids have to learn in
English and they have to learn the maths and the sciences as well. If
they don't do that, they are being retarded and they're not able to
function in the job market, or in the wider Australian or world
communities," he said.
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