C has come home from school lately telling me about our local history:
“We are white people. The white people came in ships from far away, and the aborigines who were here before moved to where Ayer’s Rock which is in the middle of Australia”.
His story is a very simplistic one, as befits a kindergartener, but it makes me very uncomfortable. For a start, two of the kids in his class are asian – do they get the same spiel about being white people? And, of course, there are aboriginal people in Sydney – not many around where we live, but not far away. And the aboriginal people who were here before the First Fleet didn’t just move to central australia in an accommodating way – they died of smallpox, or were gradually forced off their traditional hunting grounds.
I’m assuming all that history came from the teacher rather than other children (who is american, but I doubt if it would make any difference), and I’d like to think there was a way it could be explained that was both understandable for a kindergartener, and not misleading about what actually happened, and continues to happen.
I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about it, though. Talk to C about the real story when we have enough time to chat about it, I think.