What I really love about being part of the Mini Global Citizens movement is that bright-eyed, star-gazing awe that crosses my four-year-old’s face as she grows more aware of the world. And then that heart bursting sense of joy and wonder I get as I grow more aware of her growing more aware of our world. There are people and places that are so wonderfully and beautifully different, that neither of us can contain our excitement about it. We’re excited about learning about it, about engaging with it, about being involved in it. Its FUN and HEART-FILLING and WORLD CHANGING. We lived in Arnhem Land for a time and we talk about it a lot. While collecting periwinkles at the beach the other day our conversation went something like:
M: “Hey baby did you know Yolngu people on Elcho Island eat shellfish just like the ones you’re holding, they’re called maypal”
B: “WHAT?” (wide eyed)
M: “Yep, people walk through the mud and pick the maypal off the mangrove trees”,
B: “OH. MY. GOSH.” (wide-eyed awe)
M: “Yeah, and do you know that once, when you were little, Mukul (aunty) took you hunting for maypal in the mangroves and you ate some?”
B: “WHAT!? I LOVE MAYPAL! Where are the mangroves?” (wide eyed, smiling and jumping up and down).
Later we went home and looked at Elcho Island on the map and saw photos of her with her Mukul eating maypal. Learning, engaged and involved and she loves maypal and I love her loving her maypal.
I’m not a Yolngu person (Indigenous people of NE Arnhem Land, NT), but I am a Dhungutti-Biripi person (Mid-north coast NSW). As an Indigenous person, being different isn’t always fun and heart-filling. Aside from the pain of direct racial attacks (which I haven’t experienced probably because of my blue eyes and lighter skin), there is certainly deep sadness and anger that I feel. I feel it when I remember ‘F*&$K ABOS’ being spray painted on a wall at my school, or when I remember old work colleagues slandering our clients based on their Aboriginality. I feel angry and sad for my family members who were taken as children and for our family history that’s forever lost because no records were kept of my mob. I feel it when I read that my people are the most highly incarcerated people in the world and that we die almost 10 years younger than the average Australian. I feel anger and sadness for our land, language and culture torn from us by the jaws of colonization and now celebrated annually by the nation on the 26th of January. I feel it for the continuing deep-seated, systemic racism toward our people that generally goes unacknowledged by the country – see NT intervention, black deaths in custody, Don Dale, Kevin Henry or Julieka Dhu for just a few examples of the sickening human rights atrocities being experienced by Indigenous people in this country today. I feel deep anger and sadness watching our people be treated as a national problem rather than a source of national pride.
As a nation we fail to educate about, embrace and take pride in our national Indigenous heritage and because of this we miss out on what is wonderful and beautiful about our differences. Mutual sharing and understanding can only result in mutual respect, love and ultimately, true reconciliation. For our mini global citizens who are interested, inclusive and involved, reconciliation is the goal.
Written by Jazlie Davis Grygoruk – Jazlie is a Biripi-Dunghutti galbaan (woman), born on Worimi country, living on Darkinjung land. She is a former pilot, community development worker, current law student and mother of two beautifully fierce Mini Global Citizens. Who will no doubt change the world!