A documentary about a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy’s experience in school, In My Blood It Runs, has reignited a debate about Australia’s failure to give indigenous children a good education and a fair start in life.
“Listen carefully,” the teacher tells the class. “This one isn’t a story, this is information or non-fiction – it’s fact.”
She’s holding up The Australia Book, a picture book from 1952, and reads: “In Botany Bay, Cook landed for the first time in a new country. Then he sailed up the coast, mapping as he went… On an island in Cape York he raised the English flag. And he claimed for the English country the whole of this new land.”
Dujuan Hoosan’s hand shoots up, but he doesn’t get the chance to speak.
Afterward, the children have to find a list of words in the text and mark them with a highlighter. Dujuan, a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy, struggles a bit with the vocabulary, but he finds it even harder to recognise the story because the history he has been taught by his elders is very different.
“That [lesson] was for white people, not for Aboriginals,” he reflects. “This man came on the ship and he was the first white man on Australia. The Aboriginal people told them to go and find another land because this was their land. But people didn’t listen.”