Stolen generations and denial of social belonging

More than two centuries after the beginning of colonization, the social gap between white Australia and black Australia is not yet filled. The policies implemented by successive governments during the XX th century to the aboriginal population are an explanatory factor since they aimed to control all aspects of Aboriginal culture and advocated a White Australia . This objective was supported in particular by the Aboriginal chiefs, Cecil Cook in the Northern Territory (from 1927 to 1939) and AO Neville (1915 to 1936) in Western Australia, during the period now known as stolen generations and extends from the early XX th century to the 1970s.

The term Stolen Generations refers to the victims of arbitrary kidnappings that were legally committed on a racial basis against thousands of children of mixed race. This expression has become the symbol of an entire page of Australian history and a constant reminder of Black Australian Australia’s policy of assimilation by white Australia and, consequently, of social inequalities accentuated by these policies.

Some of these children have been resilient and have found their place in society, but for the most part the damage has been irremediable: impossibility and inability to find a place, whether in the white society that rejects them or in aboriginal society that no longer recognizes them since they have been deprived of the social codes that govern aboriginal tribes. There is sometimes an impossibility of communicating other than in English, since the abducted children were forced by the missionaries or the directors of institutions to stop using their dialect, on pain of being punished with degrading punishments. – such as washing the mouth with soap.

The aim of these abductions of children from mixed unions was to make them “useful” citizens, ie citizens who were active in the economic system and not dependent on it, claiming to raise to the same rank as their white fellow citizens. This idea still prevailed during the second half of the XX th century. Thus, according to the Australian anthropologist Charles Dunford Rowley, ”  as far as possible, the policy was to prevent them from being conceived and to give those who were special schooling as children, in institutions, since their white blood offered the hope that they would make useful citizens.  “  [4] [4]  Charles Dunford Rowley, The Destruction of Aboriginal …. However, the opposite effect occurred: the system put in place, accompanied by its range of laws, only further excluded them from the rest of society by marginalizing and stigmatizing them, with rare exceptions, which contributed to developing and intensifying strong social inequalities.