A.B.Original - 'January 26'
‘I said celebrate the heretic anytime outside Jan 26 (anytime), That’s the date for them suckers doing that sucker shit (that’s true!), That’s that land-taking flag-waving attitude’
‘Fuck celebrating days made of misery (fuck that), White Aus still got the black history (that’s true), And that shirt will get you banned from the Parliament, You ain’t having a conversation, well then we starting it’
When I started my blog I promised myself I would post at least once a month. So it’s now 31 January and I haven’t posted since December 2017 – I am also madly completing last minute preparation for a PhD milestone next week.
QUICK THOUGHTS THEN
January 26 is impossible to escape – because it’s not just about a day, it’s always been about more. I turned my phone off for about four days and tried to stay away from all forms of media, I mean really I am just so sick of the shit. How hard can it really be? What is gained in further denial?
The most disingenuous waffling of it all is the call to focus on the big issues; the old chestnut of practical issues as though they are some how separate from the symbolic, the ‘important issues’ and don’t forget the ‘gap’. There is no difference! They know it, which makes their denial the even more insidious, spiteful and hateful – to what end? For what purpose?
The denial of a conversation and a change around January 26 speaks and is generative from the same denial of the Uluru Statement and illustrative of the fundamental need for structural reform to interrupt the operation of sovereign authority in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
But hey we know all too well, it’s more of that ‘land-taking flag-waving attitude’. So Tarneen is right, let it burn. ‘Fuck celebrating days made of misery (fuck that)’ – fuck celebrating countries, laws, institutions and societies made of misery.
Something I want to finish – January 26, Sovereignty and the Law
January 26 is officially celebrated as Australia Day, the commemoration of the 1788 landing of the First Fleet and the settlement of New South Wales by the British.
The date, its celebration and all that it has come to symbolise have however always been about much more than just the arrival of eleven ships. The day is refined through its repetition as another ritual re-inscription and production of settler colonial sovereignty.
That claim to sovereign authority; that same legitimating force of the cry of terra nullius. The repetitive celebration, once historically commemorated through the murderous bravado of the bushwhack, then later through such staged spectacles as subdued Aboriginals welcoming the British, is now subconsciously woven into the fabric of the national psyche through a carefully reproduced enjoyment of inclusive multiculturalism where the ecstatic intoxication of the forgotten frontier is now transformed into the rivers of grog that flow on a public holiday.
Freedom, one of those apparent Australian values, means that all can now celebrate a coming together of the reconciled Australian community – one that has forgone its exclusive and violent past, washing itself clean in the tides of history, embracing its welcoming and inclusive present.
Yet question that freedom and inclusion, exist as other to that carefully policed inclusion, and the productive and protective force of such ritualised being, necessitated always by settler colonialism itself, lurch forward from the chasms of yesteryear, throwing off their cleansed veils of the tidal swells of progressive liberalism by marking anew those that would question or claim otherwise.
Commonly now referred to as Invasion Day, January 26 has become a symbol around which a contested and anxious national narrative grapples with a continued Indigenous presence that refuses to be confined and held captive to invasion, not just as a counter-narrative, but as affirmation of self.
This has always been the case. An anxious existence, predicated on that which it excluded, has always betrayed itself by its violent outbursts toward an Indigenous being that existed both for itself and as a perennial threat to the presumed totality of settler colonial claims.
The promise of justice in a reconciled Australia, heightened again due to the more recent questions of constitutional recognition, continues to betray itself through a repetition of these same practices. Rather than delivering on the promise of reconciliation, the justice offered is that of limited inclusion repeated again in settler colonialism's ritual reproduction of legitimated authority through the naming and demarcation of acceptability.
Lyrical devices, illustrated by examples such as A.B Original’s ’26 January’, highlight the often unseen or ignored fissures in both the promise of justice and the operation of sovereignty and law in settler colonialism.
Through these affirmations of not just counter-narrative but Indigenous being, a sense and understanding of the experienced but often ineffable existence of Indigeneity can be heard and understood. Rather than limiting ourselves to what the law or the promise of justice permits, A.B. Original reminds us that ‘you can call it what you want, but it just don’t mean a thing’.