Opinion: Referendum Results 2023 – It’s Time for Australians to Have an Honest Conversation about Race

It’s time for Australians to have an honest conversation about race.

Last night, Australia turned down the chance to officially acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the nation’s original inhabitants by establishing a Voice to Parliament advisory body in the constitution.

In the year 2023, a time often labeled as “woke” by some on the right, the country chose not to acknowledge its First Peoples.

If this isn’t concrete evidence that the buzzwords “inclusion” and “diversity” are often just empty rhetoric, then I don’t know what is.

Indigenous men are seen shackled alongside a British convict in Australia during the 1900s. Credit: Supplied.

The Australian Electoral Commission confirmed voters in every state and territory except the ACT opposed the change, with 59% of the country voting against it as of Saturday night. Victoria had the highest yes vote at 46%, while Queensland not surprisingly had the lowest at 32%.

UK human rights activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu led international outrage over the Voice Referendum results.

The resistance to an Indigenous voice in parliament is rooted in a harsh truth that many, particularly White Australians, would rather avoid—a painful reminder of Australia’s shameful past.

Deep down, they are aware of this dark history, and it’s more convenient for them to dwell in denial than confront the uncomfortable reality. Indigenous history has been ignored for far too long, with genocide deniers even rewriting it to soothe their own conscience.

It’s akin to a narcissist mistreating someone and refusing to admit their wrongdoing, convincing themselves that the victim somehow deserved it.

Society and the media have perpetuated falsehoods about the horrific crimes during colonisation, such as the stolen generation and the Black War. These sanitised versions of Indigenous history rely on false narratives.

This dangerous farce, perpetuated through generations and ingrained in our history books, makes it difficult for some to acknowledge the truth about our First Peoples and their suffering. It would essentially be an admission of guilt, implying that their entire identity and patriotism are built on a lie that is rooted in crime and shame.

Real reconciliation and Treaty are long overdue but in order to achieve this, we must first at the very least acknowledge the truth about the original custodians of the land and only then can we establish meaningful change.

Sovereignty has never been ceded. It always was and always will be, Aboriginal land.

Mibenge Nsenduluka

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