When I wrote ‘Solid Rock: Solid white out’ I was still reeling with sadness and heartache and when I’m upset I write, so that’s what I did.
On Wednesday I received a call from one of the production team. He was deeply upset and offended by my article, said the rest of the production team were hurt and offended too, and that members of the Mutitjulu community would feel the same.
It was a mistake publishing the piece on my blog and sending it to Crikey. It was a mistake because it was filled with assumptions. I should have spoken to more people first.
I only asked Anangu “Where is everybody?”
I didn’t ask “Are you having a good time?”
I believe the worst thing you can do to a person is make them feel like a stranger in their own land. I thought the massive influx of whitefellas would have made Anangu feel like strangers in their own community. That was an assumption I made, and it was wrong to make this assumption without speaking to anybody first.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is never make assumptions about how people feel, and never assume all Aboriginal people will feel the same way. Of course they won’t. Perhaps there were Anangu who did feel strange on Saturday, and perhaps there were Anangu who had a ball.
I wrote my piece from the perspective of a whitefella who was deeply distressed by the sea of white faces when she expected to be in the minority. But I failed to consider that perhaps Anangu were not distressed at all. For this assumption I am deeply, deeply sorry. I offer a bottom-of-my-heart-and-soul apology to Shane Howard and the entire crew, but most of all to the community of Mutitjulu.
However, I still believe my blog post offered a valuable perspective because it is a different perspective. It made people think. This apology should also make people think.
I did not and do not claim to speak on behalf of Anangu, but I did fail to get anyone’s opinion on the concert before I wrote my piece, and for this I am sorry.
Is it better to write something, make a mistake and rethink your methods, than never say anything contentious at all? I could have written just another gig review, but I chose to write from the gut. I felt sick, sad and strange, so that’s what I wrote about. But I did not ask the Anangu sitting next to me, “Do you feel sick, sad and strange?” This was my mistake, and for this I am sorry, but I am not sorry for provoking thought.