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Monday, 20 November 2006



G'day Kiki, I've been enjoying your blog.

From my Australian perspective, I think that our past treatment of aboriginal people gives the current young people a disadvantaged start.

I know that in Australia the strongest predictor of a child's educational success is the parents attitude to education. I know in America the strongest predictor of financial success is whether your parents owned their home or otherwise had some money saved (not a lot, but some, which helps with college costs or work startup costs).

Only 25 years ago an Australia state government prevented a group of aboriginals buying land (being sold by a privately) with money they had earned and saved. 70 years ago aboriginals were not legally allowed to own land or businesses. In my state, they were under the management of a protector of aboriginals. I'm not sure when they became able to own land and to vote, or to manage their own money. Aboriginals were paid less for the same work and often cheated of their pay. Discrimination has created parents and grandparents with negligible assets, no experience of business, no expectation of being able to benefit from education, no expectation of the justice system working on their side. This makes it much harder for their children and grandchildren to "overcome on their own" the obstacles to enjoying productive, contented membership of our society. There are also cultural attitudes that make it harder, but some of these would be modified if they had a background of successful involvement. (In Australia there are other aboriginal cultural attitudes they don't want to change, and there needs to be mutual adjustment to find a way for the different cultures to co-exist. This is less of an issue in for blacks and hispanics in the US)

How long ago was it illegal to teach a black to read in southern US states? It was some time in the 20th century. How long ago was the last county still "proud a black never cast a vote in this county"? It was after 1960. When did the police and courts become 'color blind'?

Incidentally, in "Collapse" by Jared Diamond, he describes the strong parallels between the attitudes of people in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants and the attitudes of Americans to immigrants from the Dominican Republic. It's well worth reading.


Thanks David. I think you made very interesting points, which give a lot to think about. I haven't read "Collapse" yet but it is on my list of books to read for the holidays.

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