The clear blue sky stretches out over 40,000 angry Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The fresh morning air is a relief from the dry heat of the past few days.
Audrey clutches her ag and waves it around in excitement. “Daddy, Daddy,” she hoots with joy and tries climbing up his back. David lifts Audrey’s plump body up onto his shoulders with ease. Her red, black and yellow flag dances happily in the air with all the others. Audrey digs her hand deep into her father’s dark locks. A smile creeps onto my face as I see her chubby lively face light up with fascination.
“Australia Day equals invasion day. Don’t celebrate 1988,” recites Audrey as my smile stretches to my ears. Audrey laughs and yells with all her might, but her words are lost in the sea of agitated voices around her.
“White Australia has a black history!” “That’s right darling,” says David.
“I’m proud to be Aboriginal, Daddy and I’m glad I don’t have to live with a white family like you and mummy.” Audrey’s face still shows signs of excitement, but in her eyes, mixed emotions swim. They mirror my mind.
Memories from my past flood my head and salty tears pool in my eyes. I can only just remember my mother’s soft dark hands running through my hair, untangling the knots. My father’s big rough hands holding both of mine in his. He pressed a little wooden doll, he carved himself, into them before the authorities took me away. That’s when the memories turn bad. They said I could have a better future with a white family so they took me away. That’s where they went wrong. You can give a black person a white name, but you can’t turn a black person into a white person. You can’t change them on the outside, but more importantly you could never change them on the inside.
What is there to celebrate about Australia Day? The 26th of January 1788 was the day everything changed for the Aboriginal people. The English thought they could come to Australia and take over. They brushed us away like we were flies, but we kept buzzing around them. So instead of moving somewhere with no flies they killed the flies. They have no respect for us, neither do modern day Australians. They celebrate Australia Day like it’s something to remember, but it’s not. These people around me think they care, but if they did why don’t they say sorry to the Stolen Generations.
I wipe the tears from my eyes and touch the wooden do hanging at my neck. I gaze at Audrey and Noah, grateful that I can be a mother and raise my children without the thought of them being taken away. Noah sleeps in my arms. His tiny feet wiggle as he stirs. His big brown eyes gaze up into mine and I kiss his soft forehead.
Gary Foley’s words are hard to make out from the roar of the crowd. “…it’s so magnificent to see black and white Australians, together in harmony. This is what Australia could and should be like.” I just wish Australia could’ve realised sooner.