‘ I’M INDIGENOUS’
LEILA GURRUWIWI, 29:
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.’