How reverse shaming could end the Australia Day debate

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reverse shame australia day

Every January 26th, Invasion Day. Survivor’s guilt sets in and reverberates through every living generation. Our hearts feel heavy with emotions but perhaps, it is time to recognise our need to heal and take control.

But how do we even begin to heal when it feels like nothing has changed?

As survivors of the oldest civilization on Earth, we should be using our indomitable strength to change the way our people refer to our past.

Even though we face injustice, even though we face human rights violations and disparity on many levels, our story is a story of survival, we are the descendants of survivors and the living reminder to remember and respect those who fought to survive.

What are you on about?!?

With another January 26th not far away, tensions are already building.
We see it in our social media feeds, in the news, on our radios and out on the streets.

But in the lead up to 2018, the tension is brewing stronger than previous years and it is already turning ugly.

Racial slurs are being thrown around and big social statements and actions are being made in a bid to make a stand for our people.

But are we going about it the right way or the wrong way?

Shaming does not work the same way in the wider community like it does within our communities.

The more we try to shame the wider community into understanding and acknowledging what our people have endured and continue to endure; this only fuels the hate and the hurt.

We all know our story of survival is not pretty or fair but changing the way, we as a community, reflect on our past is a powerful step that could change wider societal attitudes significantly.

Our people need to hold our heads up high and not only bring awareness of our ongoing story of survival but also to highlight the good things we have been able to achieve.

We do not celebrate our wins as a community, as individuals when we should be. When we succeed as Indigenous people, our success is the ultimate “reverse shame” to the wider community.

What is Reverse Shaming?

Instead of getting wild and negatively shaming members of the wider community (and even members of our own communities) over the negative things that are inflicted on our people, reverse shaming is celebrating and bringing awareness of the positive things our people have achieved, which makes the wider community reflect inwards (aka Reverse shame).

Sometimes this reflection can cause racist outbursts or actions but now any hate and any hurt is carried only by those with deep issues and insecurities.

Racism is their issue not ours.
So why do we continue to feed their issue?

Their addiction to our inter-generational wounds?
Why do we continue to seek apology and consolation from those more broken than some of our own fractured family bloodlines?

We are survivors.
We have an ongoing story of survival.
As survivors we have the strength in all of us to succeed and be proud.

Our communities have wanted to heal and move forward for decades but it is those who are confronted by our ability to survive and succeed who are the ones who cannot “get over it”.

The more we lead the way, we set the tone of the conversation around our story of survival, around issues within our communities and promoting our strength and successes, the more this will get those triggered by our existence, our survival, to reflect.

The more they reflect, the more they will know their hurt and their hate.

From there, it is that individual’s choice whether they continue to hold that hate and hurt or to choose to heal and grow.

As the oldest civilization, as survivors, we need to lead the way forward but also be ready to walk alongside those seeking to heal and grow with us, regardless of if they are members of our own communities or the wider community.

In 2018, the only way to right the wrongs of the past is through our actions in the present, done in the right way to ensure our way, is the way of the future.

One social change initiative towards doing things in a right way is the #myhandprintmystory movement.

Like and Follow the My Handprint My Story Facebook Page for more info and inspiration on how to do your handprints and share your stories of survival, support others doing things the right way because that is how we will #healandgrowourmob

By Nita Spedding

Nita can be found on LinkedIn with a full list of the many hats she wears.

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