- What is your overall reaction to the film? Did you previously know about the Stolen Generations?
- The story of the Stolen Generations is gut-wrenching. This is my first time ever hearing about it. I grew up with an Aussie step-dad and just went to Australia in 2015. Although I am not an expert, I thought I had at least a little bit of knowledge on the Aboriginal community. This goes to show how this big part of history has been so incredibly suppressed and how the information I’ve received growing up was one-sided. I was blown away and at the same time, not the least bit surprised.
- The concept of the Stolen Generations is still controversial in Australia. Some Australians deny the idea, while others recognize it and agree that these children and their families suffered greatly. Why do you think people deny this?
- I believe some Australians deny this because it is too big of a tragedy to face. It is one thing to harm people, but to know that children’s lives were so negatively impacted is another story. Denial is a powerful tool that is used when the consequences seem too much to bear. I think that if people were to acknowledge the Stolen Generations, the flood gates would open for reparations.
- What do you think has been the impact on the Aboriginal community in Australia? Do you think it is something that should still be discussed today?
- Like many indigenous people, Aboriginals are still suffering from the wrongdoings in the past. One of the main impacts that comes to mind is health. Like native Hawaiians who were colonized and experienced trauma, Aboriginals similarly see an indigenous health crisis. I think of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance and how trauma from our past can impact the health of offspring for generations to come. Of course, I think that the Stolen Generations still needs to be talked about. Simply, I think it still needs to be fully acknowledge before anyone can move on or even begin to imagine what a resolution would be.
- How do you think the history of the Stolen Generations might contribute to people’s experiences today in Australia?
- I think Aboriginals today and Native Americans have similar paths. Many children were robbed of healthy family situations and an education. Now, as adults, they suffer from a disproportionate amount of illnesses like depression and alcoholism. The lack of opportunities forces them into menial jobs that capitalize or make fun of their cultures. For example, Aboriginals in Sydney are reduced down to selling didgeridoos are the ferry station and Native Americans are forced to work in casinos because of the lack of jobs on their lands.
- How might you compare this story to what has happened in Hawai`i, Guahan, and other colonized places in the Pacific and Asia?
- I think there are a lot of similarities to many indigenous cultures that have been affected by colonization/assimilation. They are told who to worship, how to talk, and what to eat. I don’t believe this is specific to Asia and the Pacific; it is worldwide. My best friend’s tutu, tutu Kulani, told me that being Hawaiian growing up was like “being black in the south” (these are her words, not mine). She wasn’t allowed to speak the language and when her grandma would talk in Hawaiian with her friends, tutu Kulani was always told to leave the room. She said Hawaiian was always spoken in a hushed tone, like they were swearing or had something to hide. Similar to Selena’s story, tutu Kulani didn’t give her daughter a Hawaiian name out of fear that it would be used against her. Now, my best friend, Kulani, is named after her tutu so I see that little by little, the Hawaiian culture is more accepted now than it was a generation ago.
Image from here