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“Deadly Unna?” By Phillip Gwynne Essay

Deadly Unna? By Phillip Gwynne is a novel based on the fictional one year life of a fourteen year old boy named Gary ‘Blacky’ Black. The story shows a developing friendship between Gary, an Anglo-Saxon boy and Dumby Red, an Aboriginal boy. With this friendship Gary begins to understand his own morality with lessons of human dignity, racism, justice, death, courage, family and most importantly friendship. The story is structured around AFL and shows how sport can bring a divided community together every winter.

One of the main structural themes in this novel is racism, discrimination and stereotyping of Aboriginal Australians in society. Indigenous Australians are one of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia and they are subject to many racist stereotypes in everyday life.

A stereotype is a trait of one or more people that is attributed to a social or racial group. In the novel an example of a stereotype is when Gary is talking about how he and Pickles had never been to the Point before because they both had heard stories that there were ‘Abo’s’ with spears and boomerangs being thrown everywhere. This story scared them both – in effect making them and others think that ALL Aboriginals are like this.

Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another (better then another). Many examples of racism can be seen throughout the story such as the comment from the character Mad Dog ‘I don’t shake hands with boongs’ on page twenty nine. Boong being a defamatory term used against Aboriginal people, referring to their race. The term was also used again in the novel on page one hundred and twenty one when Gary and Clarence (Dumby Reds sister) were together and Clarence sat directly under graffiti on a wall exclaiming ‘Boongs Piss Off’ in big black letters. Gary felt uncomfortable with this being on the wall and hoped that Clarence did not see it.

Discrimination is the action of treating another person differently based on their race, sex or other illogical reason. From the change rooms on page twenty one to Big Mac’s service toward Tommy Red (Dumby Reds Father) at the pub on page one hundred and sixty, discrimination was present in most chapters of this book. In fact discrimination in the port was a big eye opener for Gary Black.

The novel itself is a great example on how Australia is changing from a disgusting racist lifestyle to a country that respects people of all cultural backgrounds. Since what is said to be the invasion of white settlers, Aboriginal Australians have become one of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities according to statistics. In modern times Australian Governments together with Australians individually and as a society, are attempting to take action to turn around the statistics.

Racism, discrimination and stereotyping against Indigenous Australians in Australia is everywhere from small town communities to large city school yards, but why? People are racist for many reasons: Upbringing, ignorance, power, personal experiences, own cultural beliefs, fear, influence of friends and family etc… but that is no excuse to do it.

From European settlement (1770) into the 20th century Aboriginal people have been considered by most as a sub-human race, therefore, they did not receive the same rights as Anglo-Saxon people in Australia. Stemming from that belief they were put into missions, separated from communities, denied access to their own spoken language and access to land, suffered high numbers of abuse and sexual assault. Children at young ages were stolen from their families and were essentially taught how to clean and made to forget about their families, culture and way of life.

All that stemmed from one cultural group believing that they were superior to another group – therefore entrenching racists’ belief that ‘Aboriginals are an inferior race’. Whilst we understand in modern society that this belief is wrong, it is difficult to change the thought process of all people who see others that are different and believe that their cultural beliefs are better or more right than others. After all it is our own cultural beliefs that tell us what is right and wrong, what is beautiful or ugly. Aboriginal people are not inferior nor are other cultural groups inferior. As Australians we need to recognise and respect our differences to be a true peaceful multicultural society.

Bibliography:

Smartcom-Library/Image Source/Australia FlagDate Accessed: Monday 24th, Augusthttp://library.smartcom.vn/upload/1201173161413australia-flag.gifDeadly Unna? By Phillip GwynnePublished by the Penguin Group – Penguin Books Ltd, London England, 1998Indigenous Disadvantage Edited by Justin HealyPublished by the Spinney Press, Thirroul NSW, 2008

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