Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism
Dujuan lives with his mother and his siblings in Alice Springs. His grandmother tells him that he has inherited is grandfather’s healing power. It’s important to her that Dujuan gets to know his Aboriginal heritage and learns to speak Arrernte. For Dujuan, too, it is important: he is never more at home than when he returns to the traditional lands. But unfortunately, Dujuan also has to attend a state school where he is always an outsider.
In My Blood It Runs is a wonderful portrait of an extra-ordinary boy who has his work cut out for himself. Between poverty and prevalent racism, he finds strength in family and tradition, underscoring the importance of communities for BIPOC everywhere.
Dujuan is a charming child and very well chosen as the protagonist for the documentary. He has charisma in spades and it was lovely following him along for a while. Newell did a good job in trying to capture the world through his eyes. There is definitely enough to see that way.
The scenes in school could not be more harrowing. Not only is Dujuan one of the children who struggle in the rigid school system, even if he wasn’t he would probably squirm in his seat simply because of the staggering amount of racism that he is faced with, apparently all the time. Be it in history books about European settlers or during story hour when the teacher who reads a story about Aboriginal mythology makes disparaging comments about that mythology. I wouldn’t want to go to school there, either.
Contrast this with the happiness Dujuan shows when he is in the Aboriginl community. The seriousness with which he uses his healing powers that speaks of a responsibility that you wouldn’t think possible when you only see him in school.
The problem is that within the Australian state system, Dujuan needs a “regular” (read white) school and upbringing. And so there is the threat of him being taken away from his family. Maybe brought to one of the Juvenile Detention Centers, prisons for kids well known for the abuse that happens there and, in Alice Springs at least, entirely filled with Indigenous kids.
It’s a damning analysis of a racist system, and a beautiful confirmation of the resilience of the people facing it. Dujuan, in any case, finds a way and I am sure he will continue to do so.