Wednesday, June 03, 2015

All Around the World, Same Song

I've been working in Sydney, Australia for the past couple days. Last night while walking around with a colleague named Sue, the subject of Aborigines came about. She compared Australian's treatment of them to America's treatment of Native Americans. I took the liberty of including African Americans and Mexicans into the conversation. 

As a nurse, she was saying that Aboriginal people do not care about their health. They go into their lands and drink, even though they shouldn't be. She has tried to recruit them into her clinical trials, but they won't participate. 

I told her that it may not be that they don't care about their health, but that they don't trust the people trying to run tests on them. She did not know about the Syphilis experiment done on Black men or that Native Americans were given blankets with smallpox, with both groups being left untreated and left to die (or worse, live with the painful, disfiguring symptoms). 

She asked if Obama being in office made it better. I told her that it actually made it worse because instead of the country discussing the systemic issues, people use his presence as "proof" that there is no racism, or blame him for keeping racism alive when he does address racial issues. 

"But," she asked, "What about Hillary? Will a woman in office make it better?" Women still make 74 cents or so to the dollar compared to men (I didn't bother mentioning the race gap). Is Hillary going to fix that? She hadn't heard of the show scandal, but I used Mellie as an example of a woman staying with her husband for political aspirations because Sue wondered why Hillary stayed by Bill's side for so long. It could be love and dedication, but alas she's running for President, so....

After all that, Sue said that she has people in her family dark as me and doesn't care how people look. Her father is from England and her mother from Scotland. She was born and raised in New Zealand and relocated to Australia to make more money. She had never been to London and wanted to afford to visit her father's family. While in England visiting, she talked to her cousin about the English (of England) treatment of Aborigines and the cousin was astounded. 

Sue told me it's a shame that her cousin didn't know her history.  My questions to her, which (unspoken) are the same of American English were, "Why would they? Why would they want to discuss their past? It's not like they're going to give up the benefits they've gained from it." 

In the end, we agreed that English people are "something else." And with all of America's transgressions, it's all the country I have for the moment. 

(We also discussed the goodness of America such as travel and food please nobody tell me the "If you hate America so much" speech)

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