This photo is of a group of kids playing at a kids playground.
So what? Most of you would say, kids play at playgrounds, why blog about a bunch of kids playing at a playground in light of the bombing of Gaddafi’s HQ in Libya?
It is important to point out though, that what seems to be a fairly banal observation is just a matter of semantics away from being a festival of indulgent thought about the position of those children and an entree for more middle class thinking to debate how we (in our superior position) can help those children (who obviously must be inferior) be more like us.
The kids shown in this photo are neither drug addicts or gang members, but they do belong to a family that have been traumatised by the death of one of its members in a particularly public and horrifying manner. These kids have been stigmatised by the general media coverage of this very harrowing incident and therefore have retreated into a closer family unit, one would guess, to be with people that understood their pain.
They neither want to be like members of the predominantly white middle class society that surrounds them nor do they want to be pitied for what they have experienced. If anything they just want to be left alone to deal with things in their own way.
Did I mention that these children are Aborigine?
Simply by writing this I know in the mind of millions of people they will no longer be neutral about these children or this photograph.
Now I don’t know what it is about white fellas, but they seem to have only two reactions when confronted with someone that isn’t white. One is to be overwhelmingly sanctimonious in character or the other is to carry on like a secret member of the klu klux klan. By that I mean that middle class white people seem to have to create a situation where they can either pity someone for being black, or vilify them for their skin colour.
When it comes to children it becomes an even more emotive and disturbing stance and in the case of the past history of Australia, created a phenomenon where white people tried to make Aboriginal people white by taking the children away from their parents to be educated like white fellas and taught to behave like white fellas. The result were the devastated populations of ‘The Stolen Generations‘
The creation of ‘The Stolen Generations’ could be seen as the result of actions of both vilification and self righteousness and nothing at all was achieved in progressing the understanding of either culture for the other. Yet when it comes to the use of children in propaganda it is endlessly effective for creating a demon, something worth fighting against, something we do from the motivation of gaining advantage.
According to recent media reports Gaddafi is using children in a human shield to protect his assets. Recently the Howard led Australian government used this kind of propaganda on two occasions. Once to gain advantage over the immigration debate that raged in Australia at that time, which became known as ‘The Children OverBoard’ affair (which was found to be simply untrue) and secondly to gain control over the vast tracts of mining land in the Northern Territory by stripping the Aboriginal populations of their rights to that land during what is known as the NTER (Northern Territory Emergency Response). This was achieved by releasing ‘The Little Children Are Sacred’ report (whose recommendations for the most part were ignored) and encouraging the media to believe the children of the Northern Territory were neglected and endangered. Of course the implication in both cases was that these children needed to be brought up properly in white fella culture because the people who should have looked after them were incapable or demonic because they would harm their children to save themselves.
Lets just leave the kids to be kids and cease to project our proclivities onto them. I guess some people are changing their viewpoints though because I just saw this over at duckrabbit. Its definitely worth a watch for a number of reasons, its great editing and well its just quite enchanting. But most of all it a great aid to levelling the playing field for children to grow up in a world that respects and nurtures their differences rather than attempting to create a hegemenius white society.