In My Blood it Runs
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… makes an empathetic and hearty argument for the culture of the Arrernte people, and all other First Peoples, to be acknowledged and not forgotten.
‘My generation will make a change.’
This is a mantra that echoes through a lot of political discourse, and one that has only heightened in relevance in the age of Greta Thunberg, Howey Ou, and the subject of this film in particular, Dujuan Hoosan. Will the youth of tomorrow finally put right the errors of today? It is a mentality that occasionally leads to a lethargic “let them sort it out” attitude, and there is a continuing argument about just how much importance we place on the young to fight our battles… but in the face of issues that really should have been remedied long ago, it can mean everything that at least someone is doing the talking. And in light of the subject of this film, it’s talking that needs to be done.
A candid depiction of Dujuan, his family and his local community, the intimate framing allows the raw reality to shine through. Watching Dujuan talk about his culture, his living conditions, and his position as a healer within his community, it’s all too easy to see how this is the same kid who spoke to the United Nations about the treatment of kids like him.
Not that he’s shown as any kind of home-grown wunderkind or anything as sensationalised as that; just that he’s someone who can see what is happening around him and process it in a rather preternatural way. And the things he notices around him are quite unsettling. The film at large, beyond just being a portrait of the young man himself, is one that looks at the current state of the Australian education system, specifically as it pertains to Indigenous students.
The shots of his lessons in a state school, where the teacher laughs her way through discussing the Aboriginal Dreamtime and the ‘heroes’ of the First Fleet, is a snapshot of the problem. If you were sent to a school that insisted on telling you that your beliefs mean nothing, chances are you’d act out a bit too.
Through that, the haunting visage of juvenile detention centres, and archive footage of Indigenous protestors, the film presents a child in the middle of a tug-of-war between learning about his own culture honestly, and learning about what has become the new dominant culture. It helps put a lot of knee-jerk ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’ excuses into context, and as personified through Dujuan, it shows a need to fix a system that almost seems designed to let down a specific part of its constituents.
No child should have to go to a school just to learn that there’s something supposedly wrong with them, and with education being such an important backbone of a nation no matter where it resides, it makes an empathetic and hearty argument for the culture of the Arrernte people, and all other First Peoples, to be acknowledged and not forgotten.