All Aborigines are drunks!

I think most people would have seen articles in the news lately about a particular racist Facebook Group. Aboriginal Memes was created purely for the purpose of targeting Aboriginal people with racist taunts and the propagation of negative stereotypes aimed at damaging public opinion. In essence, the site ‘celebrated the destruction‘ of Aboriginal people, portraying them as inferior drunks who sniff petrol and bludge off welfare. Rightly, there have been questions raised as to whether this site is in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act and much of the offensive material has been subsequently removed.

I’m sure that most people would also be aware that the current Opposition, if it wins Government, has targeted the pertinent section of the Racial Discrimination Act for repeal as it is their view that it undermines the right to freedom of speech. So in 18 months such racist, hate-driven sites will be lawful.

Get ready for the onslaught. We might will be bombarded with all sorts of myths.

If we can’t stop the rubbish, maybe we could do our best at dispelling the myths.

A post I wrote almost a year ago attempted to do exactly that. As the subject is now topical because of the publicity surrounding Aboriginal Memes, I’ve dusted off the cobwebs to again promote what I consider to be an important message. It’s about the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunks.

I heard the phrase consensus reality while listening to a recent talk.  I liked it.  It stuck with me.  I also liked what it defined, when explained, that it is a shared, social construction of reality that we believe to be true.  It doesn’t have to be true; we just need to nod our heads in agreement that we believe it to be true.  A bit like herd mentality, really.

Can you think of any examples?  I can.  Many, in fact.  The pages of history are filled with them.  The earth is flat!  The earth is the centre of the universe!  God created the earth in seven days!  Or some more contemporary ones: The dingo didn’t do it!  All politicians lie!  All dole-bludgers are lazy!  All gay people die of AIDS!

One I used to hear a lot in my former line of work always put me on the front foot: All Aborigines are drunks!

This is the horrible perception shared by the majority of non-Indigenous people in this country.  The consensus reality.

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen Aboriginal people drinking or drunk in parks, yelling at each other or intimidating passersby.  These may be the only Aborigines that many city dwellers see on a regular basis and hence they fall victim to consensus reality.  Every Aborigine I have seen has been drunk, so it must be true; they’re all drunkards.

I’m quite happy to tell you that it isn’t true.  More the truth is that Aboriginal people drink in open areas, whereas non-Aboriginal people tend to confine their drinking (and unsocial behaviour) to enclosed areas such as hotels, restaurants, clubs or their or someone else’s home.  For every one drunk Aborigine I’ve seen in a public park I’ve seen 500 drunk white people in a public bar.  Further, for every Aborigine I’ve seen drunk in a public park I’ve seen hundreds of sober Aborigines in country towns or remote lands.  I for one don’t share the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards, yet this is the stereotype often reinforced by the media and the wider community.

There is an element that are, but this is not the purpose of this thread.  Nor is the important reason why some drink, notably due to loss of culture and identity.

Now let’s look at some facts on Aboriginal alcohol consumption:

Contrary to public perception surveys have in fact found that proportionally fewer Aboriginal people drink alcohol than whites do.

29%  of Aboriginal Australians did not drink alcohol in the previous 12 months, almost double the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal people are 1.4 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Aboriginal people.

Further statistics I have found, which are similar to those that were produced while I was at ATSIC show that:

By comparison with non-Aboriginal people, a large proportion of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all and, in some Aboriginal communities, alcohol consumption has been banned by the residents.

Up to 35% of Aboriginal men do not drink alcohol compared with 12% of non-Aboriginal men.

40% to 80% of Aboriginal women do not drink alcohol compared with 19% to 25% of non-Aboriginal women.

In the Northern Territory, it has been estimated that 75% of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all.

So why do we perpetuate the myth, the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards?  I am certain that events such as the Northern Territory Intervention helped perpetuate the myth.  But it is about as far from the truth that the earth is flat.

Our Indigenous brothers and sisters deserved better than of the image society has created of them.  Let’s not stereotype all Aborigines because of the visible ones.  The invisible ones are a proud people.  Perhaps that’s the consensus reality we should be promoting.

Let’s make our voices louder than the Aboriginal Memes of the future.

42 comments on “All Aborigines are drunks!

  1. At least the media picked up on this as Abbott was doing his usual stunts this time at the Ekka.

    Abbott attempted to have it both ways when he condemned the Facebook page in the harshest terms and said the government needs to tighten laws to stop such social media sites and racial vilification.

    Then a reporter immediately picked up on the contradiction and asked Abbott why he has advocated scrapping 18c of the discrimination act thus opening the way for such vilification he just condemned.

    Abbott’s response was that he was scrapping it because it was about political discrimination not racial.

    As stupid as that response was at least he didn’t run this time and didn’t brain freeze.

  2. If a race of people is categorised as drunks, child molesters, irresponsible then you have set the scene to disrespect them as a people and to disrespect their culture. It also deprives them of a voice, because who takes notice of that type of person…

    Such happened last year with Twiggy Forrest. During a royalties dispute with the local people, Twiggy publicly stated that the community contained 13yr old girls selling themselves for sex to buy grog. Twiggy of course didn’t want to pay anywhere near the amount that the local people were asking, so his strategy was as above.

  3. it is truly shameful that we as a nation portray our indigenous community in such an appalling light. It must serve some purpose but I can’t see it, all I see is a group of people who ought to be valued and supported in their right to live their own authentic life. So important to speak out, speak loud and speak long xxx

  4. Up until recently, I lived in Rockhampton, the main regional city of Central Queensland for eight years. Yes, I did see many drunk Aboriginals and they stand out due to being out in public during the day, sadder when it’s before 9am. However, they did largely keep to themselves along the riverbank away from society, acting peacefully.

    Then there is the issue of drunken whites. Every Friday and Saturday night, they’re off to the night clubs. They get so drunk that there are glassings, bashings, vomiting over the CBD streets. In fact, their alcohol fueled violence got to such a point that taxi owners threatened to take their cabs off the road on Friday and Saturday nights for it got cheaper to have them not working than at working and having to pay for the smashed windows and other attacks.

    Yet it was the local Aboriginals who were tarred with being drunks, not the white violent drunks.

  5. I agree with that awombatsweb, I live in a small country town, when the youth of the town do damage, the first people they blame are the aboriginal youth, then when it hits the paper that it was not the aboriginal youth, they hoop and hollow that the paper was wrong and that person could not have done that as they come from a well known local family.

    As you state “Yet it was the local Aboriginals who were tarred with being drunks, not the white violent drunks.” the same goes for the aboriginal youth in our small town.

  6. Ok, at the risk of getting my arse well and truly kicked here, I’m not going to jump on this particular bandwagon, because, at the end of the day, that’s what it is, and the bandwagon is getting a bit crowded. We have a 16 year old twit posting jokes about indigenous Australians which is, of course, offensive, and everyone is giving this moron the attention he so obviously craves. I’m willing to wager that had the attention not been given, this would have died down within a couple of weeks, because, lets face it, there are only so many jokes out there. He is doing this for shits and giggles and is probably pissing himself laughing at all the perceived trouble he has caused. Yes, there is no question that this is wrong and my daughter has just schooled me on the content of the internet, and informed me that there is stuff out there WAY worse. And I am definitely not advocating a “do nothing” approach to this situation. What I am saying is our behaviour, while opposite to the racist, is almost just as much helping to perpetuate the myth that Aborigines need our help because they are unable to help themselves, and the statistics in your article clearly show this is not the case.

    I agree that it is shameful that we portray our indigenous population in such a manner, but this is a facebook page, and we are wasting our rage on some grubby little pissant who was clearly not taught good manners by his mother and should have been put over her knee more than a couple of times.

  7. @paulwello – Then you probably saw the Police harassment against Aboriginals. It stood out pretty damn quick to me on moving there. Such as the 20 or so sitting quietly in a circle of the shade of a tree to shelter from the tropical heat. Often you would see Police standing there. Anywhere from 2 to 12 or more standing there watching. Looked like intimidation to me.

    On another occasion, there were two or three Police cars at the river. The Officers were talking to youth who should have been in school but weren’t. As soon as one of the Youth decided to yell out to me, “Hey Brother!”, I found myself getting the 20 questions myself all because one young Aboriginal said hello to me.

    While the attitude of Rockhampton is shit, I’m glad I lived there for it opened my eyes on several issues including the Aboriginal peoples.

  8. All that being said Lynnie, that little pissant had a following and will not always remain a sixteen year old and left unchecked these things get out of hand. To do nothing is to let this little twerp think he can get away with his pathetic and destructive behaviour. I say nip this type of crap in the bud every time you get a sniff of it and let them know they are so very wrong and it isn’t acceptable.

  9. No question that you’re right, Patricia, but I think the Aboriginal population have bigger issues to worry about than a facebook page. Where I live they suffer constant harrassment from the police at the train station and in the mall, as does anyone with a different skin colour, which I actually witnessed this morning. And why are we surprised that this page has, from what I hear, over 1000 likes. All we have to do is look at the number of pages vilifiying our fine prime minister to know that people, generally speaking, are idiots.

  10. I admit that I don’t like giving these idiots oxygen, which the publicity may well be doing, but there is nothing to prevent us to spread the truth in the face of their lies.

  11. Sitting in a park in Adelaide one day, to the left of me were a small group of Aborigines quietly enjoying a drink and to my right was a small group of white people quietly doing the same.

    A couple of police officers wandered into the park.

    Where did they head? To the Aborigines. What did they do? They dispersed them.

    What did they do about the white drinkers? Nothing.

  12. Migs

    More the truth is that Aboriginal people drink in open areas, whereas non-Aboriginal people tend to confine their drinking (and unsocial behaviour) to enclosed areas such as hotels, restaurants, clubs or their or someone else’s home. For every one drunk Aborigine I’ve seen in a public park I’ve seen 500 drunk white people in a public bar.

    I think what you say here is the essence of the perceptual problem that you highlight in this post.

    The question is what can be done about it?

    Now its fine to denounce those who claim that all aborigines are drunks, I agree that this is a false claim, however if that perception is to change then maybe community leaders need to encourage behaviour change in the way that alcohol is consumed so that it is less public and therefore less harmful to the way that indigenous people are perceived.

  13. maybe community leaders need to encourage behaviour change in the way that alcohol is consumed so that it is less public and therefore less harmful to the way that indigenous people are perceived.

    oh sure, it’s the blackfellas who have to change their ways, not those who make the
    “false claim(s)”.

    sounds pretty (un)reasonable to me. 👿

  14. It’s incongruous pterosaur that apparently young whites going around publicly consuming alcohol every weekend around nightclubs and notorious pubs, king hitting strangers sometimes seriously injuring them or killing them, but nearly always causing violence and public property damage doesn’t require community leaders to encourage behaviour change.

    As I keep saying, hypocrites.

  15. I would like to point out some inconvenient facts. Maybe Migs can provide the numbers.

    It is a fallacy that all Aboriginals drink alcohol.

    They incidents of Aboriginals drinking within their culture is much lower than ours.

    What is true, or appears to be, alcohol has greater detrimental effects on those of the Aboriginal race.

    What is common, as it is in our culture, alcoholism is more apparent in poor communities.

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  17. On the subject of something being done about it, in Cairns cask wine is not available for sale prior to 4.30pm.

    Cu, Migs has put some numbers up on this topic. This estimation would be my experience. My indigenous (a mix of TSI, Solomon islander and Aboriginal) inlaws have a very extensive family, mostly thanks to Nanny Lyn who married 5 times. Bless her heart. None of the senior relatives drink at all. Some of the younger cousins drink but just an occasional beer at a family get together.

  18. Universal generalisations concerning any grouped people should be dismissed.

    I personally know of no suntanned Aussie that has a drinking problem. I’m having an alcohol problem…what wine to serve with the hot smoked red salmon fillets that I’m going to cook up for dinner?

    A red would be too heavy and a white too light, so Mateus it is!

  19. But exactly, it is indeed all about generalisations. Race or ethnic origins should not play a part, but rather it is circumstances for example, poverty lack of education and work opportunities. That is, any person given X circumstances a certain percentage with react in a certain way, however many won’t. But as stated this is not to with race but to do with circumstances.

  20. pterosaur1 @ 9:36 am

    oh sure, it’s the blackfellas who have to change their ways, not those who make the
    “false claim(s)”.
    sounds pretty (un)reasonable to me. 👿

    Personally I abhor public drunken and boorish behaviour and I don’t care what colour a drunk is if they are being a public nuisance they deserve nothing but disdain. However I think that you miss the point which is if we want our indigenous people to be viewed with respect then You can’t just blame those who see their public image and dislike what they see.As John lydon reminded us with his song “public image” we are responsible for how the world sees us thus it is no good whining about the stereotypes that indigenous people are burdened with if that impression is all that people see.

    Möbius Ecko @ 9:45 am

    It’s incongruous pterosaur that apparently young whites going around publicly consuming alcohol every weekend around nightclubs and notorious pubs, king hitting strangers sometimes seriously injuring them or killing them, but nearly always causing violence and public property damage doesn’t require community leaders to encourage behaviour change.

    Do you see anyone making excuses for such behaviour Möbius? by my estimation there has been nothing but condemnation, an outcry in fact. On the contrary pterosaur makes excuses for unacceptable social behaviour because the miscreants are black. Frankly I’m with Bess Price when it comes to my attitude to alcohol

    Min @ 10:15 am

    My indigenous (a mix of TSI, Solomon islander and Aboriginal) inlaws have a very extensive family, mostly thanks to Nanny Lyn who married 5 times. Bless her heart. None of the senior relatives drink at all. Some of the younger cousins drink but just an occasional beer at a family get together.

    I think that we can all respect that sort of moderation Min

  21. Mo,
    indeed, wheras the troll seems to thinkbeleive that the primary approach in dealing with a false perception(predjudice) against aboriginals is to
    blame the victims
    of such predjudice.

    sounds pretty (un)reasonable to me. 👿

  22. That’s another form of projectionism pterosaur. Abbott has blamed the less well off for being less well off and you see it often by the Right.

    There is opportunity for everyone on the planet to become millionaires and be narrow minded right wing ideologues like us, so as they are poor or unemployed it must be their fault.

    Silly thing is that many of the lower socioeconomic white groups, especially in the US, not only vote for the conservatives who are continually screwing them to the wall and suppressing them, they ardently support and fight for hardline conservative leaders, the very leaders who are taking as much away from them as possible so as to enrich themselves and their wealthy supporters.

    A book that talks about this phenomena is called “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt, and you see Abbott pandering to the same basics of mostly scaremongering based on lies.

  23. “Does that mean we can blame ian for not being able to comprehend?”

    No. It seems to be an ingrained and subconscious thing like Abbott’s incognisant projection. It inflicts many on the Right.

  24. Mobius and That’s another form of projectionism pterosaur. Abbott has blamed the less well off for being less well off.. Yet whinged about how he was going to manage on a lowly member of the opposition’s salary instead of his previous ministerial wages..

  25. ingrained and subconscious,

    perhaps but it is their wilful ignorance, deliberate lies and serial distortions they can be blamed for, imho.

    john quiggin wrote well on their Zombie Economics i thought.

  26. “Silly thing is that many of the lower socioeconomic white groups, especially in the US, not only vote for the conservatives who are continually screwing them to the wall and suppressing them…”

    See “Deerhunting with Jesus”

    It’s weird, but it’s real. Most battlers heads are so messed up they don’t even know how to act in their own best interests.

  27. Is this not a case of supremacy, I feel better about myself because. Before I continue I have sincere disdain for such blatant and sweeping statements and for me we are all equal…simple no one is worth more than another ever. That said, the Americans did similarly to their indigenous, all native american Indians we’re drunks and gamblers, here all housos are illkept, dirty, shoeless, no goods. See that’s the stereotype I grew up under, it is still.perpetuated in movies and adverts, just look at a poor person,.they are always portrayed dirty, ilkept and hopeless. its disgusting. Does this not enhance our own way of feeling of more value than the next person. We’ve all been guilty of it in some form or another and while I don’t purport to have the answers sometimes its not until we’re faced with the judgement that we realise how unjust, inaccurate and wrong it is. The old saying walk a mile in my shows before you judge me is an important thing to remember when we see an indigenous, homeless, young teenage mum, or just some poor soul who has lost their way. Perhaps an outstretched hand will do a lot more good than the sharp and hurtful thoughts that go through our mind. For me the damage is done first to yourself for entertaining anything but empathy, a smile and a helping hand. My indigenous brothers and sisters, my fellow walker on this globe deserves more, we should demand better of others and ourselves. Great piece as always…thought provoking.

  28. Pingback: First Nations, Metis, Inuit Stereotypes in our Media | Big Ideas in Education

  29. Forget the media. Here’s my story.
    Sitting outside the Hilton in Adelaide lined up out the front like skittles. Hot night. Good company and banter with International tourists. I am PROUD of MY city. Along the street comes Jacky, lurching from building walls to gutter. Don’t worry, I said . Look at those two bouncers. Jacky paused at the steps and pissed himself. Then entered the premises unscathed. I was horrified.
    He came along the line up saying dis my land, dis my country. You give me money. Some people left and some gave money. I hoped he wouldn’t get down to me. But he did. I probably said it too loud but I told him to FUCK OFF. His colour was irrelevant. The bouncers came to full alert, grabbed me and threw me out into the street. It took me a full year until I could laugh about it. Heard of the stolen generation? What about the SAVED generation. From this stolen/saved generation, indigenous people are starting to stand up and say what needs to be said. It’s happening right now. May 2016. I can only wish them well. They talk good sense.
    I wish them well and they have my full support.

  30. Try living near an Aboriginal community. Not all are drunks, but fuck me, a lot are. Rude, disrespectful, arrogant and racist.

  31. Ian, the rate of drunks is far higher among white Australia. And white Australians are more likely to be violent yet less likely to be arrested than Indigenous people. As for racism, they have every right to be when you consider how they are treated right to this very day.

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