Why Weren't We Told by Henry Reynolds



Every since I can remember, I couldn't understand why people saw others as different to themselves.  As far as I knew, we were all the same in the end.

Henry Reynold's book Why Weren't We Told is about the discovery process that he went through (and I subsequently did too) as to how the older generation in Australia had grown up with different baggage that over the generations we have slowly been able to let go of.

Historian from Tasmania, Henry spent time living in England before returning to Australia to live in Townsville in the 60's (and I believe still does). He was confronted by the racism that was right in front of him and was accepted as ok. He took it on as something he needed to learn more about, to understand. In doing so, he became friends with Eddie Mabo (of the Land Title Case), learnt about injustice towards Aboriginal children and had to rethink his idea of Australia's supposed peaceful and heroic history.

Henry explores the history, the true history of Australia. He doesn't glorify either side, the English or Aboriginal side, he just tries to get to the bottom of a lot of the untold, accepted or hidden stories. The outcome is a sad story of many lost lives, of murder, of trusts and betrayals and of genocide. I found it shocking and moving. It is the history lesson that I was never taught and that should be taught to all Australian's.

Reynold's also highlights how much we as a people of Australia are much better at tolerating, respecting and reconciling than we ever were before. I found it an important point to make and to keep these things in mind so as not to feel weary.

After traveling through Australia in 2010 for 9 months, visiting some communities and meeting many more Indigenous people, I had come home feeling perplexed and angry about the way white Australia treated (mistreated) the traditional owners of our land: the language, the infrastructure, the policies and general patronising. I felt very little hope at that stage for the repair, reconciliation between the general white Australia and the Indigenous community that most people never see or hear.

A good friend of mine could see me struggling with this and recommended that I read this book to help my understanding of the history, Indigenous people and people who still call Indigenous people atrocious names - and think it's ok - the racist people of our country.

After reading Henry Reynolds book, Why Weren't We Told, I can now see we (Australia) is actually with hope and that we have to live with that. Things are going to get better and it starts with each of us taking the time.

Worth a read? You bet!!

x Meg

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