Davis uncovers racism in Australia
Discrimination and attitudes towards the aborigines.
The aborigines suffer from institutionalised racism. Individuals in a position of power discriminate against the First Australians, who find it difficult to survive.
The depiction of individuals such as Mr Neal and Mr Neville shows their contempt towards the First Australians whom they treat as second class citizens.
The ration system makes it difficult for the aborigines. This is because the aborigines are denied essential food and shelter, such as blankets, soap and meat. Milly tells the sergeant ‘My girl’s in hospital with pleurisy, and we want blankets’.
Davis criticises the conditions and suggests that the aborigines are being treated like cave men. Milly says ‘the bloody place is colder than the north pole’, indicating that Cissie got sick because of the terrible conditions they are living in.
Racist attitude/mentality/view/ towards aborigines.
Davis criticises the racist attitudes of many of the white people towards the aborigines.
The sergeant says ‘you have three healthy men bludging off you, too lazy to work’. This is in fact not true because the aborigines are exploited and not paid decently for their work.
Milly tells the sergeant that Joe cut a hundred posts and was only paid with ‘a pair of second hand boots’.
Davis also criticises the white people who believe that the aborigines are ‘savages’. Mr Smith objects (complains) about the aboriginal settlement being too close to his property. Mr Smith believes that ‘he wouldn’t be able to go out and leave his wife home alone at night’.
Davis criticises this view, by showing that it is the white people, who are violent and who sexually and physically abuse the First Australians.
The aborigines are treated as if they are inferior to white citizens.
The government treats the aborigines as second-class citizens. It is clear that they regard the First Australians as part of the natural landscape. They belong to the ‘Fisheries, Forestry, and Wildlife’ department. This shows that the white people believe that the aborigines are ‘savages’.
Mr Brown who is on welfare, is given 7 shillings a month, while the aborigines are only given 2 shillings. This shows us that the government discriminates against Indigenous Australians.
Jimmy is treated with contempt when he is locked up (incarcerated). He complains about the ‘piss bucket’ which is leaking. The sergeant tells him to ‘shut up’. Jimmy feels humiliated and ‘hurls the bucket against the wall’. Because of this he is also charged with damaging government property and his jail sentence is increased.
This is another example of the aborigines being treated like animals.
The aborigines are moved around from settlement to settlement for political reasons and this is unjust because they are forced to leave all their possessions behind. The government moves the entire Government Northam camp for political reasons. The government says that they are moving them for health reasons; however only 4 in 89 people have scabies. Jimmy states ‘wetjalas in this town don’t want us ere’. As a result the government moves the aborigines because otherwise they will get a ‘hidin in the electin’. [page 45]
Abuse of women
Davis shows how aboriginal women are constantly mistreated by the white men.
Out of 80 women who went to work in the domestic service, 30 returned pregnant.
Mary is afraid of working on a farm because she fears she will be raped. Her friend worked on a farm and ‘the bosses sons used to belt her up, and you know force her’.
When Mr Neal sends a girl to the hospital, it means that he will rape them.
White/Black stories, myths and backgrounds.
Davis uncovers racism in Australia, by showing that the aborigines have been abused and systematically murdered by the white people.
Billy relates the 1926 massacre that killed many in his tribe, purely because one white man was killed.
In Western Australia, in 72 years, the population of 13,000 aborigines was reduced to 1419 – many of whom are half castes. This shows that the numbers of aborigines have declined sharply – possibly due to white intervention (murder).
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No Sugar Essay:
Throughout Australian history a racist attitude towards Aboriginals has been a significant issue. The instant the early settlers arrived on our shores and colonised, the Aboriginals have been fighting for the survival of their culture. The Aboriginals haven been take in and dominated to bring them in line with an idealistic European society. These themes have been put forward by Jack Davis in his stage play, No Sugar, the story of an Aboriginal familys fight for survival during the Great Depression years.
In communicating the racist and unfriendly attitudes of the leading white ideology towards, for example, discrimination and adjustment, Davis constructs characters, which are continuously under fire and in opposition to the oppressing dominant white society. Admittedly Davis utilises his characters to confront the audience and take them out of their comfort zone, showing them the reality of Aboriginal treatment.
Throughout the Great Depression discrimination and racism were both major issues relating to Aboriginals. Jimmy Munday, one of the more outspoken characters in No Sugar is characterised as the activist and lone Aboriginal voice that is constantly challenging dominant white principles. Jimmy is a character shown to constantly rebel against the prejudiced attitude towards Aboriginals. When the officials plan to relocate the Government Well Aboriginals, it reveals the racism in white authority, as the town wants to be devoid of all things Aboriginal, for the sole purpose of a politician winning an election. Realising he is relatively powerless against the oppressing white society Jimmy continues to treat the white authority with hatred, voicing the discrimination he feels: You reckon blackfellas are bloody mugs. Whole town knows why were goin. Coz Wetjalas in this town dont want us ere, dont want our kids at the school, with their kids, and old Jimmy Mitchells tight coz they reckon Bert Awkes gonna give him a hidin in the election.
This illustrates the hatred towards Aboriginals throughout white society, through Jimmy actively resisting major white ideas from his position.
It also shows the strong prejudiced and racist attitude towards Aboriginals.
Adjustment was seen as a major historical practice to attempt to destroy the Aboriginal culture. Aboriginals in No Sugar are able to challenge dominant white beliefs, but ultimately they do not succeed. This concept can be distinctly seen in Gran Munday.
Through Grans use of her own language (Nyoongah) Davis is able to spotlight the cultural characteristics of Aboriginal people by expressing her demands to be heard. She disrupts white authority by not adopting the dominant Western Cultural ways. This is clearly demonstrated when Gran speaks in her language: Im warrah, guny tjeinu minditj, and I get no gnummari
The above quote shows that the dominant white society has been unable to destroy her aboriginality. This is due to her aggressively resisting white dominant value systems and using her own language as a symbol of her cultural characteristics. Gran throughout the text is portrayed as possessing traditional Aboriginal qualities, such as her skilled knowledge of bush alternatives. When Neville whips Mary, Gran comes to the rescue:
No mine, No mine put this jeerung nreear on your back, fix you up quick and make you better. This furthermore presents Gran as a traditional Aboriginal with her culture strongly intact. Her knowledge of native medical herbs and traditional midwifery skills, she continues to use the white society for what she wants, and only utilises the bare essentials of the Western Culture that she needs to survive. This can be seen as resisting the help of the dominant white society and therefore challenging assimilation in not using Western Culture medicine. This is reinforced when Matron offers Gran baby powder: Dont need powder, use me own!
Davis has constructed Gran as the independent culturally unbroken Aboriginal in order to influence the audience on the issue of adaptation. Through her actively resisting assimilation the audience is influenced to see that the aboriginality and all its cultural elements are rapidly being disintegrated through the domination of the white society and this influences the audience to feel compassion towards Aboriginals in their ongoing fight for survival in the cultural prison they are in.
Through the construction of such characters as Jimmy and Gran the audience is influenced to see the horrific efforts of
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Related TopicsNo SugarRacismAboriginal Australians
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