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The Stolen Generations

Engelsk artikkel om hvordan litteratur og film gjør oss mer oppmerksom på sosiale ulikskaper. Eksemplene på sosial ulikskap er den dårlige behandlingen av aboriginere i Australia på 1800- og 1900-tallet.

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For many years one of the most significant ideals in the world has been to guarantee social equality. People have been treated differently because of their cultural backgrounds, gender, disabilities and other personal reasons. Luckily, this situation is noticeable better in many countries, but are we aware of the situations in other parts of the world? Through modern films and literature we have the opportunity to learn more about this worldwide theme, and to become more aware of the social inequality in other cultures, past or present.


To find a good example to such mistreatment, we are not forced to go back more than 50 years. From the late 19th century to the end of the 1960s, Aboriginal children in Australia were forcibly removed from their parents by the Australian government and placed in institutions, orphanages, missions or with white foster families. Only because of their cultural background, these women and men were said to be awful parents. The children were placed far enough away from their family to make contact impossible, and they tried to make them more like themselves. They stole a whole generation.


In the movie Australia the mistreatment of the Aborigines are highly visible. The majority of the white people would not have anything to do with them, and they were convinced that their own culture and their own skin color were more worthy than the Aboriginal peoples. The movie show how differently they were treated, and that they could not live their life like the other people in the country. The children had to be careful, and the parents had to watch them every second. A good example from the movie is a situation when the small aboriginal boy, Nullah, wants to go to the movies. Because of his skin color it is obvious that the government would have taken him away from his family if they found him there. The little boy had to make his skin color look entirely black, so that nobody would know that he was aboriginal, and remove him from his own mother.


We can say that this young boy were lucky, at least if we compare his situation to other aboriginal children’s. He had the opportunity to get to know his own mother, which many other did not get the chance to do. An example is Glenyse Ward, who is an Aboriginal writer who at the age of one was taken away from her family. In one of her many books, Wandering Girl, we get to see how she lived her life as a young girl.


After 13 years of her life on a mission, Glenyse Ward was going to work as a servant for white people. Entering their enormous house, the young girl had her hopes up, and could not wait to see her own new room. The cold welcome the wealthy, white couple gave her was nothing like expected. They told her that she was nothing more than their dark servant, and that she was to obey their orders. She had to drink from a tin mug, while the couple themselves drank from beautiful cups and saucers. Her room was in the garage, even though their house was more than big enough. This mistreatment and discrimination of the aborigines were all over Australia at that time, and they did not get their apology until 2008.


These cases of social inequality made me more aware of how important this theme is, today. The movie showed how easily the white people could ruin many of the aborigines’ lives, and how easily it can happen again. That the scope of abuse these children and their families suffered would not have happened if their skin color were different is unbelievable.


The mistreatment of the aborigines is only one example of social inequality, but I think it is an example which shows clearly how differently people are treated, only because of small personal differences. Through the examples we see that cultural backgrounds and skin color makes people believe they are more worthy than others. Fortunately this case is in the past, but the social inequality is still not. That is why it is important that we do not forget the things that happened in the past, and remember how easily it can happen again. Literature and films plays therefore an important role in the work to guarantee social equality. It reminds us of what have happened, and how important it still is today.



Targets Engelsk VG1 (Ascheoug)

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