Q&A’s compelling speech: “Don’t call me a problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop last night on Q & A when Aboriginal activist and former actor Rosalie Kunoth-Monks addressed questions about John Pilger’s film Utopia.

Kunoth-Monks, who lives on the Utopia homelands, 260km north-east of Alice Springs, defended the film which screened recently on SBS.

Her comments contrasted those of writer and former politician Peter Coleman who criticised the documentary.

But when Kunoth-Monks spoke it was compelling television:

You know, I have a culture. I am a cultured person. (Speaking Arrernte) I’m talking another language. And my language is alive. I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John shows what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal or, indeed, Indigenous. I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country. (Speaking Arrernte) This is the country I came out from. I didn’t come from overseas. I came from here. My language, in spite of whiteness trying to penetrate into my brain by assimilationists – I am alive, I am here and now – and I speak my language. I practise my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don’t call me a problem. I am not the problem. I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am. I am Arrernte Alyawarre female elder from this country. Please remember that. I am not the problem.

Following her moving words, Twitter lit up with praise.

After this attention, it could be worth SBS replaying Utopia during their World Cup season.

This post will update will full transcript from ABC later today.

5 Comments:

  1. We need more people like Rosalie Kunoth-Monks and ‘melmora’ to speak out on forums like this and on national TV – to make non indigenous Australians understand what it is like to live in your own country as second class citizens. Most of my friends (as most first, second, third generation ‘Australians’) have either no idea or are not interested – I try, and mostly fail to remind them of whose country this really is.

  2. solution – give first nation people some patient/support/understanding to adjust and balance the two cultures they are forced with.
    continous education/programs/opportunities and listen to the elders, because they are trying to figure out a way forward. because its a problem you cant explain and speak of, it comes from the heart of indigenous people.
    you have to live as an indigenous person to really understand the hardship and confusion to change and adjust to the western ways. i am lucky to pull through and live both worlds, i live in the city, own a house a great job , childrens but i continously return to homeland to practise my culture in the north east arnhem land. that is where my whole heart is, my family, my ancestor land brought down to me. the language on my tongue i am most comfortable speaking, sitting under a shaded tree organising the next ceromony which connects the…

  3. It was a great moment, but it left me a bit confused — clearly there is a problem, else the documentary wouldn’t have been made, so what’s her solution suggestion?

  4. I was tempted to watch Q&A after years of not watching it, because there were to be no pollies and because of the wonderful Jane Goodall.
    However I remembered that it would have all those juvenile and pathetic tweets across the bottom of the screen, so the boycott continued!
    Actually glad I missed it, sorry, but I believe in equality.

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