Thanks to Rev Glenn Loughrey for this thoughtful piece.
Exile – A Self Portrait of an Aboriginal Man – Glenn Loughrey 2017
When you have been completely dispossessed of all that has meaning you have no-thing left but your body. You have no voice, no language, no country, no hope – all has been taken from you by those who possess you and you are left with only what you have on – your body.
You wear your body as both a form of defence and of attack against those who continue to commit genocide through policies designed to embed our hopelessness and voicelessness. We are all people of place and context and once the connection to these has been severed without any hope of reconnection, a deep sense of powerlessness sets in. You are powerless to be who you are when you are taken from the place that defines your language, tradition, lore, and spirituality.
This is not just the experience of first-generation exiles but is handed on in the DNA of those who follow. Cross-generational trauma or powerlessness continues and is experienced both consciously and subconsciously by those who come later. Some know why they are the way they are; others are never sure. They just know the shame of being wrong, not grounded, not belonging, and don’t know where it comes from.
Your body carries the memory of a past home and desires to return. It carries the memory of the hurt and grief involved in losing such a precious possession and strives to be heard as you wish to be heard. Yet you have no voice, it has been stolen and given to another to speak on your behalf, to decide if you are worthy to be heard, and when and on what matters you will be heard.
You are in exile, not heard, not seen and invisible to the rest of society which only sees you as an issue to be resolved and not as a person to be respected, not as a person with a voice. What do you do with the trauma, all the grief and loss, all the anger and anxiety if there is no one who recognises you as a real human, not an object to be used to fund the Aboriginal industry – welfare, medical, prison, police and more? The statistics on prison numbers and children in out-of-home care remind us that our bodies fund an entire industry for non-Aboriginal institutions to profit from.
It is our bodies and our children’s bodies that society values, not because we are human but because they can be used to fund the ‘helpers’ it has been decided we need. It is our bodies that universities and private schools seek to black-clad their profit-making exercises when they can point to a black body now acting like a white body. It is our bodies’ people cheer when our young men and women, run fast, kick goals, score tries or achieve a feat that makes us proud.
These are the same bodies heckled loudly and without fear with racial abuse, or whitesplained to when you think they need white knowledge to put them straight, or question the colour of their skin, or how they got their degree or house, or challenge their lived experience with your considered opinion. And more.
For the complete article go to: This is my body: it is all I have
Beautifully if that is the right word encapsulates the First Nations experience of discombobulation and disconnection and everything that is wrong with white displacement of our Aboriginal people. Through these deeply meaningful and moving sentences, we are brought into the heart of that experience. Thank you Glenn for that insight.