21/08/2018
S. Crawford
Opinion
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Embrace Your Heritage – Positively

I spoke to someone the other day who said her daughter-in-law was Maori and grew up ashamed of it as a kid. It wasn't until she was an adult and learnt her history that the pride came.

I honestly believe that is the problem nowadays. Instead of teaching our Maori kids their heritage and the pride they should rightly feel in their ethnicity, which in turn would build self-esteem and self-identity, we taint it with "Maori are so hard done by" and "all Whites are racist."

We breed a generation of victims by filling their heads with all the bad Maori have done, without contrasting it with the actual heroes of their race. I believe if you keep teaching your children that their race is looked down on, that they are all lazy, all criminals, etc, etc, it infects a child’s self-esteem and erodes away the pride they should rightly feel. Likewise, if you teach your White children to be prejudiced against Maori, you're letting your own perceptions shape those of your child.

I've lost count of the amount of times over the years that someone’s opinion of me changed for the better the moment I correct their assumption that I am Maori. I am actually half Samoan. We victimize people without even being aware that it is our own perception that is at fault.

We hand down core beliefs to our children, and that I think affects their whole world view. So many Maori grow up ashamed of their race 'cos all they ever see, hear, and read is "Maori are filling up our jails" and "Maori man wanted for rape," etc. How the heck does that encourage a kid to want to do well? And we wonder why some Maori don't bother achieving. It’s a mind-set that gets handed down from generation to generation. It permeates into a person's entire way of thinking which in turn, leads to the choices they make.

I’ve heard the excuse, "Oh, but they're Maori," "Maori are disadvantaged," and "Maori are all poor."

Really? Is that the mentality that we are passing down? Yes! Yes, it damn well is. There is no reason a person of colour cannot do as well as any other person. We all know a person with Maori blood that is doing fantastic. So what is the difference between them and those who are not?

My theory? It is their mentality and the mentality they were raised with.

When a parent has a low self-esteem and poor self-image, it makes sense that – subconsciously – they pass that down. And so begins the ever churning cycle that only few stop and question the direction of. This goes for people of all colour, but perhaps more so for Maori because they were so badly disadvantaged 150 years ago. The mind-set toward the White man back then, I imagine, would have been one of hostility and justified anger.

But it is up to each of us to take back responsibility of our lives.

We are not our history yet our mentality is formed by our history. Our core beliefs are formed during our childhood by everything we see and hear. If I grew up hearing that I would never do well, that my dad was a criminal who should be locked away, that my mother was nobody, then there would have been a pretty good chance I wouldn't have make good choices.

Oh, but wait a second. I did grow up hearing stuff like that directed at my siblings and I. I did grow up making irresponsible choices that came with consequences hard-learnt. Being a ward of the state and in foster care through no fault of our own, we became statistics.

But you know what, a person’s past does not equal their future. And if you're the same person now that you were 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, then in Mohammad Ali’s words, "You have not lived at all."

So my question is this. What are you going to teach your children about the history of this country? The unfiltered truth? Or the watered down version that has been drip-fed across our nation for over 100 years.

"Maori are lazy, Maori are criminals, Maori are poor, and Maori are disadvantaged"; or

The Maori were badly treated, the Maori were stolen from, lied about for political agenda, and stomped down to keep them in their place. But also, Maori were Warriors. Maori were strong and fierce. Maori were noble, dignified, and magnanimous. There will be the ancestors of some of the Maori today that would be shaking their collective heads in fury at the way poverty and crime have become synonymous with "Maori".

It is about time the true history of our country was taught in our schools. If only to teach our children of Maori descent that they don’t need to conform to society’s biases toward Maori. Because historically, Maori was and is a race to be proud of.

And we as New Zealanders should embrace and protect our Maori culture fiercely and loyally.

I am sick of hearing derogatory things that label an entire ethnic group. It sickens me that the minds of some people are so small they think making a broad comment like "Maoris are dumb" or "White people are racist pigs" is them being intelligent. It's not, it's racist! Oh, I'm sorry, have you met all Maori people? Have you met all White people? No.

I am sick of people demanding equality but then demeaning that by advocating for special treatment because of their race.

If you pay attention to American politics right now, you know that Blacks are always expected to vote for the Democrats. Why? Because they give them "free" stuff that allows them to rely on government assistance with no encouragement to better themselves.

What does Trump do in comparison? He brings back jobs. Thousands and thousands of jobs.

In fact, the Black unemployment rate is the lowest it's ever been in history under the Trump administration!

What does that say? Did the left want to keep the Black people "Black"? I use that term because historically, Blacks were and have always been disadvantaged by their history. I mean come on, it wasn't until the sixties that a Black child could finally go to the same school as a White child!

My question is the same for our government and our media. Does New Zealand want to keep the Maori people "Maori"?

By keeping us divided over racial issues, by spouting on about the disadvantaged Maori children, the percentage of Maori in our prisons. Do they write headlines to intentionally invoke racial tension?

I advocate for true equality. One that recognizes, appreciates and respects the true history of New Zealand but one that also pushes for the betterment of our youth and our people no matter what their ethnic background.

I also advocate for personal responsibility.  Are you in a situation right now that you are not happy with? The only way forward is by taking responsibility for the choices that led you there. Don't blame the government or your peers because at the end of the day, you make the choices for your own life and it is your responsibility alone.

To be a statistic, or not? That is the question that only you can answer.

About the author

S. Crawford is a right-leaning liberal and woman of colour who likes to beat the odds. She's an advocate for individual responsibility, an opponent of derogatory group generalisations, and a fan of Donald Trump – whose presidential campaign led to her political awakening.