It’s not often that I allow myself to stop moving, but just recently, I took a brief break from laboring over the one-woman show I’ve started writing based off of my book Raise the Red Teddy: A Single Mother’s Guide to Dating. Without hesitation I popped in a movie I just received from Netflix called, Rabbit-Proof Fence. I had never heard of it before, but the title sounded interesting and the cover looked intriguing so I added it to my queue.
I wasn’t prepared to be heartbroken. Rabbit-Proof Fence is about a 14-year-old Aborigine girl named Molly, her cousin and sister in the 1930’s when the Australian government tore Aborigine families apart in order to stamp out their native blood by placing half white Aborigine children into orphanages and grooming them for servant positions where girls can be can be taken advantage of sexually to ensure their children (who would also be taken away) are even whiter.
Molly, a clever, strong willed girl who had not grown to know her white father, escapes the orphanage, and uses her native tracking skills to guide her, cousin Gracie and little sister Daisy back home to their family. While Gracie decides to take a detour to find her mother who is nearby, Molly and Daisy trek over 1,500 miles through the desert without any supplies trying to allude a government employed Aborigine tracker and the Australian police. And what’s more amazing, is this film is based on a true story.
After watching this film, I was left wondering, “Where was this in my history books?” Why am I just now learning that these were the conditions that Aborigine people were living with all the way through the 1970’s? Why did I not know that there were countless Aborigines known as the “Lost Generation” who experienced an identity crisis because they found it difficult to relate to both white Australians and native Aborigines?
After a day of pondering this, I felt like slapping my hand against my forehead – but I didn’t. It had a lot less to do with the simple oversight of a broken school system that I was cattle prodded through and more to do with a control mechanism set in place particularly with my own government. The things I’m exposed to as a child and a young adult is part of a network of metallic spider webs flashing news in front of me that my government deems appropriate and important. This is where my parents should have come in, if they had known.
There is a not-so-subtle mix of racism blended in this pot of manipulation that many Americans believe have been long since boiled away. I felt so sad about this – similar to what I imagine it would feel like if your father, who you adored died, and then you find out that he used to beat your wonderful mother.
Reaching past this new knowledge, I saw Molly as inspiring, so much so, that I had my own daughter watch it as well; hoping that Molly’s willingness to take on all authority, without a paralyzing fear of punishment and a determination to rival anyone’s – man or woman of any race, would trigger something in her as well. This was my tender moment to teach as a mother – and then, my break was over.