I have so many issues with this, on so many levels. Especially considering I used to think this way myself.
I used to look down on the Indigenous Communities of Australia, as they too receive all of the above benefits yet the majority of them still seemed to be going no where with their lives. I was constantly hearing of the chronic problems in Alice Springs where the handouts were spent on copious amounts of alcohol, and just the issues that arose from those specific entitlements. I very rarely see Indigenous youth around the city or my area who aren’t walking in packs and trying to be gangster. A majority of them, from what I have seen, have quite consistently ruined the reputation of their culture by being poorly behaved, poorly dressed, foul mouthed and bad mannered.
Then one day I had to catch the train during peak hour to get to class. The train was fairly packed, and I chose to sit in a 4-way booth (two seats facing towards two seats opposite). The other man sitting in the corner of the booth was a very tall, burly looking Indigenous fellow. Instead of sitting opposite him, as my knees would have overlapped his, I sat on the adjacent corner of the booth. 4 seats, 2 commuters, peak hour.
As we continued towards the city, making more and more stops, the train very quickly began to fill. All the empty seats were gone, including the priority seating, and people were resorting to standing up in the aisles and holding on to the rails above.
The only two seats left available on our entire carriage, were the two directly opposite and adjacent to this man I shared a booth with. Eventually I ended up scooting along, giving up my leg room, and sat opposite the burly Indigenous man. It didn’t take long for someone to swoop down and take my original seat, yet the one remaining seat, the seat adjacent to my fellow commuter, was empty for the entire journey into the city.
Meanwhile, I had politely apologised when I had moved and invaded his leg space with my own legs, and when I had finished the puzzle on my newspaper, I offered the paper to him with a smile and he seemed quite happy to receive it. I had noticed the other passengers behaviour towards him, so I made sure he received at least one kind gesture on his trip. Other than that we spent the rest of the journey in silence.
When we reached the main city station, and as the train mostly emptied, I got up to leave. My back was turned but I heard the guy I was sitting with call out to me. I turned around and I will never forget what happened next. He looked at me with an incredibly hurt look in his eyes, and he politely nodded his head and said, "Thank you, it means a lot to me."
I don’t think he was talking about the newspaper, either.
All my prejudices and judgements regarding Indigenous people of Australia sort of crumbled instantly at that moment. I finally realised how despite their special treatments from the government, they never really get treated right anywhere else. Probably because many people, like the one who very thoughtlessly threw the above image together, still have many lingering racist and prejudice behaviours, even if it is unintentional.
I was bullied as a child, by my elder sister. She was never punished because my mum said she was older (could be seen as a privilege), which made me bitter. I began to lash out at my other siblings in the same way my elder sister lashed out at me, yet I ended up getting punished for the same crimes my sister was inflicting on me and getting away with. The injustice of it all really screwed me up, and I grew more and more resentful, angry and destructive.
The man I encountered that day on the train reminded me of my issues as a child, and the injustice I felt. Except he was a victim of a large scale social problem, fuelled by racial prejudices and privileges. Coloured people may be equal under written law, but the way they are treated on a social level still screams with the agony of racism.
If you agree with the sentiments of the person who generated this meme, you are probably unaware, and unintentionally part of the problem.