Looking back, it was in Cairns, Australia that I first decided it could be exploitative to post pictures of people.
Day two in Australia found me with 100 Australian Dollars in my pocket (thanks to the airline misplacing my luggage) and Aboriginal/Indigenous Australians in front of me. I was at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park watching a performance that included a two-year old. Jamaica Kincaid’s words ran through my head as my tired brain equated this cultural park (whatever that means) with the Native American reservation visits of my childhood.
“An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, an ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that, and it will never occur to you that the people who inhabit the place in which you have just paused cannot stand you.”
I did not want to be a tourist. At least that’s what I thought while watching people snap photos of the toddler without bothering to ask the parents who stood silently behind him. I took about nine pictures in the entire park, one of which was these:
I can’t lie. There are some of the performers while onstage. But, to this day, I don’t have them posted online.
Other non-documented events included a chance to throw a boomerang and a spear. Take that as you want. As a woman of color who was beginning to understand her identity I’ll give you one chance to guess how I felt about it.
The zoo was much more innocent. I even got to hold a koala for five seconds (which was all I needed).
That evening I managed to find a mall to buy some clothes and an ill-fitting swimsuit because tomorrow would be The Great Barrier Reef.
Clothes or no clothes, I wasn’t missing that trip.