‘ I’M IN­DIGE­NOUS’

LEILA GUR­RUWIWI, 29:

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Celebrity -

NITV sports pre­sen­ter Leila is proud of her In­dige­nous lin­eage

‘I’VE EX­PE­RI­ENCED mo­ments of not get­ting served f irst when I’m wait­ing in line at a shop or a su­per­mar­ket. I once had a kid say to me loudly in a shop­ping cen­tre that I was “very, very black”. For me it wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily what the child said; it was that the mother hadn’t taught the child that peo­ple come in all dif­fer­ent colours. There have been times I haven’t been able to catch taxis, and I’ve been told that my pres­ence in a cer­tain shop was

“not OK”. Racism makes me so an­gry and the fact that we’re in 2017 and we’re still deal­ing with this issue is frus­trat­ing. Fight­ing racism and f ight­ing the way peo­ple per­ceive you and the In­dige­nous cul­ture can be tir­ing. It’s hard but it’s some­thing that we need to do as a com­mu­nity. We as In­dige­nous peo­ple can’t do it our­selves, and that’s the won­der­ful thing about hav­ing friends from other back­grounds – we can teach each other about our cul­ture and where we came from.

The thing I love most about my cul­ture is the fact that I’m a part of the world’s old­est living cul­ture. We are not just one coun­try; we are many coun­tries. We have so many dif­fer­ent lan­guages, so many dif­fer­ent cer­e­monies, dances, and now we have so many beau­ti­ful colours of brown, so to speak. I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand that Abo­rig­i­nal­ity is not the colour of your skin. Peo­ple have this weird per­cep­tion that to be In­dige­nous you have to be a cer­tain colour, but you can put milk into cof­fee and it’s still al­ways go­ing to be cof­fee. It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re blon­de­haired and blue­eyed, or have freck­les; if you have Abo­rig­i­nal lin­eage and that’s what you’ve been brought up as and that’s what you’re proud to be, then you are Abo­rig­i­nal. It makes me re­ally sad to see that Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple are still treated badly on a wider scale. I’m nearly 30 years old and in re­la­tion to where we sit in health, I’m essen­tially sup­posed to die in the next 10­15 years – there’s a huge gap in our health­care sys­tem.

My hope for the In­dige­nous peo­ple of Aus­tralia is to be fully ac­knowl­edged, and be re­spected. And not just in cliché ways like, “We need to do an ac­knowl­edg­ment to coun­try be­cause we have to”, but just be­com­ing a part of who we are as a com­mu­nity and em­brac­ing In­dige­nous cul­ture – be­ing all­in­clu­sive. In­dige­nous cul­ture and his­tory is Aus­tralian his­tory. It’s a part of your story if you con­sider your­self Aus­tralian.’

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