thekooriwoman

Gomeroi. This is MY truth.

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Bad poem bet I lost

You shame our men and call them violent. Monsters

You shame us women, with your words of neglect

You shame our children for their lack of shoes

You call us dirty, lazy no good

Then tell us to get jobs

Jobs from people who you told

That we were dirty, lazy and no good

And when we get them jobs

We must lock our truths in our hearts

And never speak them

For when truths are spoken

The jobs go with them

You say we must buy our own homes

To put on the land you stole from our ancestors

You came here on a boat

And now you wont share?

You never loved and kept this land

We have no treaty

This land was given to you, shared with you

But now I must?

I must work and scratch and eke

While you forget where you came from?

That will make us better

Like you

What makes you better?

The land you stole?

The jobs you refuse us?

The shoes on your feet?

I’m sick of the shackles of shame you have put around my neck

I give them back to you

The ones who put my brothers and sisters in jail

For stealing food to feed their families

The ones who kill my people and get away with it

For the mental illness your demands cause

I give them back to you

For the suicides of the people with no way out

The people who give in to their shame

The shame you put there

In their hearts

I give these shackles back to you

Black person cheering while your people are kicked

When they are down

Voiceless and in the dirt

You wear these chains of shame

I refuse to be shamed

I shackle you to my unshackled shame.

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On Self determination via crowdfunding and Start Some Good

Melissa Sweet (who does an amazing job running the Crikey health blog ‘Croakey’) and I have been talking for some time about the Close the Gap initiative and the ways it is benefiting Aboriginal health, and also some of the ways it needs to do better.

Amongst our many conversations a wild idea appeared, maybe I could write some columns, from the perspective of someone who actually uses Aboriginal health services. Whoa right? An actual statistic, who has a computer and can parse a pretty mean sentence when inspiration strikes. So of course I said yay, and Melissa said yay, and The Croakey Koori was born.

Many moons later a campaign was created! http://startsomegood.com/Venture/the_koori_woman/Campaigns/Show/the_croakey_koori_column

Anyone who follows me either here through my blog or on Twitter knows I write passionately and always from the heart. My writing has no agenda other than to raise peoples awareness about what is to be an Australian Aboriginal woman who lives (I use the word ‘lives’ very loosely here, because most of the time I feel as if I am just barely existing) on the margins of mainstream society.

In conjunction with Croakey Blog I am aiming to raise at least $3000, this equates to roughly $1000 per month, Melissa and I think two columns per month sounds pretty good, but knowing me, if something gets me riled up, it will probably be more. If we raise more than $3000, then I will continue to write for Croakey up until the funds run out.

I do apologise that I don’t have very many rad things to give to people for donating, but if you have read my blog at all, then you will know that it’s only through the absolute kindness of a lot of pretty awesome people that My children and I still even have a roof over our heads!

In terms of what I will be writing about, number one obviously being health related issues, I will be touching a great deal on mental health as well. Most of you are no doubt aware of the absolutely appalling statistics concerning Aboriginal health in this country. The fact the Aborigianl children still suffer from diseases such as trachoma, which is virtually wiped out in other prosperous countries. The astoundingly low life expectancy rates for Aboriginal people, but is anyone really aware of the absolutely atrocious quality of life many Aboriginal people face? I cannot help but think that the current governments policies seem to be focused on hacking and slashing funds willy nilly. I have a genuine fear of what is coming for Aboriginal people in the future.

This is a very real opportunity for me, as an Aboriginal woman, to practise my own version of self determination as I understand it. I have spent countless years in administerial, promotional and in some cases, soul crushing culturally oblivious working environments in an effort to keep my children clothed, housed, schooled and stable. This is a chance for me to spread my wings and return to doing something that brings me the joy and fulfillment of doing what I love without reservation, and that is writing.

So I ask all of you, from the bottom of my heart. Please help me realise a dream I have nursed since I first read Dr Gary Foleys essay on ‘Whiteness and Blackness in the Koori Struggle for Self-Determination’.

Also, my son draws a mean postcard, I have no doubt one day he will be in galleries across the planet. You know you want one!

And if I may, I just want to thank every single person who has written words of encouragement to me. I suffer a great deal of self doubt at times and I am always, always, always surprised at the absolute kindness and good will you always show me.

On Shopping While Black

Recently I spent a week in Sydney. And it was a wonderful week. I had job interviews, commenced  my diploma, caught up with some amazing friends, met a lot of awesome new people and enjoyed myself immensely. Then something happened on Friday afternoon that cast a dark cloud over my entire week.

I was shopping in Newtown and remembered I had to renew a script for stomach problems that I have blogged about before. I went into a chemist and was immediately struck by how crowded it was, with very narrow aisles. I made my way to the back of the store to put in my script all the while incredibly aware of the security guard that had followed me down the aisle.

I stood and waited for my script, even though I would liked to have browsed the shampoos and hair treatments aisle with all their yellow sale tags. Buying hair products comes a close third in my list of favourite things. I resisted though, because by now the security guard wasn’t even pretending he wasn’t watching me, the intensity of his stare could have burned holes in paper.

At last my name was called and I was given my script in a clear plastic puzzle box to take to the front of the store and pay. The line to the cash registers was long enough that its end was a little down the aisle on the edge of the store. I took my spot in the back of the line and it was at this point the security guard realised he couldn’t see me, so he actually came and stood next to the man in front of me. It was around this point that I started to get angry. I could feel it spreading in my chest, an overwhelming need to clench my fists.

Finally the line snaked forward enough so he could go and take his place by the door, yet still see me. I gave my puzzle box to the register operator, paid for my purchase and walked towards the door behind a lady slowly pushing her walker and the man who was in front of me in the line. The security guard ignored these people, and asked to search my bag. I sighed inwardly, this is something I am so used to doing that I didn’t even think twice, With my jaw clenched I opened my bag and let him snoop.

This is when the fun began. If your idea of fun is being embarrassed in front of a whole store full of people. I carry a pack of zantac with me everywhere, and have done for quite a while. About a week before my trip to the chemist I bought some cod liver oil capsules. Someone had recommended them to me and they were on special at a supermarket I was visiting so I grabbed them.

The security guard wanted to see receipts (even for the medication I had bought not 60 seconds before). Luckily I had the receipt for the zantac buried way down deep in the bottom of my bag, it took me almost 15 minutes of going through a hundred scraps of paper to find it, but I found it. Not so lucky for the cod liver oil capsules though. I explained to him that I had bought them weeks ago, no I didn’t have the receipt. The smile on this mans face when he realised I couldn’t provide proof of purchase for the vitamins was something to see. I imagine people look like that when they win the lotto.

By this time my anger was making itself felt by kicking up my heart rate a few notches. There are stores here in my hometown that I refuse to even enter because being followed and having my bag checked does not an enjoyable shopping experience make. If I had known this chemist had an incredibly eager security guard I would not have set foot in it.

A woman wearing what I assumed was the stores uniform, who had been watching this exchange for quite some time came over and asked if there was a problem. Yes, I told her, this man is accusing me of stealing. The security guard waved the cod liver oil capsules at her, and she said, we don’t carry that brand here. I imagine people who are just one number away from winning the lotto have the same expression on their faces as the one that flickered across the security guards face.

The security guard did not apologise, he didn’t even look at me when he said, I’m just doing my job. I asked him if his job was to follow black people around his store and make them feel uncomfortable. No answer. The woman who intervened didn’t apologise. No one apologised for embarrassing me, making me feel like a criminal or for falsely insinuating that I had stolen from them.

I can’t even figure out why this particular incident upset me as much as it did. I am used to having my bag searched when I leave stores. It’s not as if this is something that has never happened to me before. This upset me so much that instead of leaving Sydney on Saturday, I changed my travel to Friday night, breaking plans to do something I was looking forward to all week.

Truth be told, I am still angry about what happened. I’m angry that while this man was following me around, and searching my things, he paid no attention at all to other customers in the store. This man assumed because of the colour of my skin that I would be the one who he would follow. And what exactly would have happened if the brand of cod liver oil capsules I had bought the week before were stocked at that store? Would the police have been called? Would I now have a shoplifting charge against me?

I keep asking myself, when does it end? When does my colour stop being the reason I get harassed and treated with disrespect? I am no longer a young woman. Lines have begun appearing on my face. Every line a mark of wisdom learned from a journey that has never been smooth. Outward signs that denote maturity and a deeper understanding. Every line hard come by and every line loved and cherished. I am now a woman. And in becoming a woman I had somehow thought this would mean I would be accorded respect. Wishful thinking in this instance. Because it doesn’t matter how old I become, I will never be accorded the respect of the benefit of the doubt when I walk into a store, I will always be singled out, followed and have my bag searched.

On the rise of a Black Patriarchy and 50 shades of Black Respectability Politics

My children have missed days at school because of economic reasons. A year ago I would not have admitted that. A year ago I would not have said a word. A year ago I would have kept my head down and my mouth shut for fear of drawing unwanted attention to myself and the problems I was facing. And always, always, in the back of my mind the voice that says don’t ever let anyone know you’re doing it tough, because they will take your kids from you.

I don’t live far from Lightning Ridge. A place where 41 children were removed from their Aboriginal parents. A quick google search reveals that Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be put into care. As an Aboriginal mother, these numbers are horrifying. As an unemployed single Aboriginal mother, these numbers are terrifying.

Neither of my children would have missed days at school (except sickness of course) had there been programs in place that would have helped me. A simple lunch program for disadvantaged kids. A school shoes payment plan for low income families. And on the odd occasion, a bus pick up for scorching hot, or pouring rain days.

Instead of addressing these problems, the problems of parents with financial difficulties, the problems that are not only affecting Aboriginal people, but many non Aboriginal parents as well. The government has now put in place an initiative, at a cost of 24 million dollars, that employs truancy officers. And the feeling of a cold hand of fear on the back of my neck, always present, intensifies.

What happens if the small amount of work I have gained dries up and I am back in the position of money being so incredibly tight that the lack of it is suffocating? What if money again becomes so tight that shoes, uniforms, excursions, lunches or transport, issues that I don’t have to worry about when I’m working, become issues that keep my kids from turning up at school on occasion?

What exactly is the scope of these truancy officers? Do they give my kids lunch? Buy them shoes? Uniforms? Will my name be added to some Department of Community Services list somewhere? A mark upon my name that gives rise to visits from people who can remove my children from my care?

I spoke honestly and frankly with my mother about my worries. She was amazed that this is still happening, after all the trials Aboriginal women have been put through for generations. We spoke of her own mothers obsession with cleanliness, which sprang from her fear of the dreaded welfare man, a government employee who could come to your house and demand to be let inside, to ensure your house was clean. That there was adequate food available. That the children were going to school.  She then went on to tell me about her own fears, when she was raising me and my siblings, the absolute terror she felt whenever going to collect food vouchers, of some nameless person swooping in to take us kids off her because she was facing hardship when my father passed away. The tremble in her voice as she recounted this broke my heart.

Aboriginal women have been told for the better part of two centuries that they are neglectful and not fit to raise children.  Through policy after humiliating policy Aboriginal women have borne the brunt of racist and cruel intentioned initiatives enacted purely out of ignorance, and the unwillingness of decision makers to listen to what Aboriginal women think is best for their very own children.

There are broader issues at work here. I am witnessing the rise of a black patriarchy that makes my blood boil and turn to ice in concert. I am also seeing all the telltale signs of respectability politics at play. Politics that are othering black women, shaming them for their economic status, shaming them for the colour of their skin. Politics that point a damning finger at Aboriginal women who exist outside the margins of perceived respectability. Politics that cater to white conservative thought via black men (and some black women) holding up their hands and instead of demanding equal rights and justice, they are holding their hands up ever higher in vehement agreeance with policies that hurt black people immeasurably. This race some black men ( and some black women) engage in, to ingratiate themselves with white conservative thinking, to hold themselves forth in a look at me, I’m different, I’m not like those black people, I think like you manner. It’s revolting to watch and cringe worthy to see.

When the poor white woman across the road in exactly the same boat I am, with the exact same monetary issues around her childrens school attendance, does not have the extra burden and worry of people turning up on her doorstep, demanding embarrassment and explanations, then that initiative walks like a racist duck, quacks like a racist duck, and is most assuredly, a racist fucking duck initiative.

The fear I carry and the aversion I feel, to governmental departments where my kids are concerned is due entirely to inter-generational trauma. My mother carries this fear, her mother carried this fear, her mother carried this fear, these fears are real, and history dictates, these fears are not without precedent.

I am an Aboriginal mother, I have never been asked what I think would help school attendance rates. I have never been asked what would be the absolute worst way to raise attendance rates. When it comes to programs that affect Aboriginal mothers, I can be 95% sure that the government will go with the most invasive, the most detrimental, the most shaming plan.

The mere thought of a truancy officer on my doorstep brings a feeling of intimidation. I absolutely abhor the idea of men making decisions that impact Aboriginal mothers, decisions that do nothing but enhance the culture of fear that we already live under. This culture of shame that has been created by consistent attacks on Aboriginal people. Australias track record in this speaks for itself.

I am not for one second disputing the importance of education, of children attending school. I do not know one Aboriginal parent who does. But I do dispute the bullying tactics this government has employed in ensuring attendance is met.This instilling of ever more fear into Aboriginal parents, this I dispute, with every fibre of my being.

Thank You

This is my third attempt at writing down my gratitude to every single person that has read the account of my families’ descent from being happy, healthy and independent people to becoming depressed, unhealthy and despondent. My third attempt to try to capture the feeling of tightness around my chest and mouth leaving, the sense of a great weight upon my shoulders easing, the slow unclenching of the muscles in my stomach, the ever racing thoughts in my head winding down enough for me to have the first deep and unrestless sleep I have had for a year.

I opened my paypal account page with the hope that some very generous  souls had helped me in my quest to pay my internet bill, and with a deep down secret hope that maybe there would be a little more to put towards getting my kids school ready.  I never in my wildest dreams expected the amount that greeted me. My phone and internet bill will be taken care of. Not only is the fear of not being able to get the kids ready for the school year gone, I will be able to make sizable payments on both my electricity and credit card bills.

I have been walking around today in a kind of daze.  I keep thinking about the messages of encouragement I have received and just how kind and incredibly thoughtful people can be. Tears of happiness keep filling my eyes and a lump has taken up residence in my throat. My renewed optimism has been contagious. The kids are singing and joking around more, the near silence that has enveloped the house over the past few months is receding. A few of their friends will be visiting this afternoon. Even though I have tried to shield them from the worst of my problems, I have not raised insensitive children. Semblances of our old lives are returning.

The consequences of my story being shared so widely have been astounding. I have sold a piece of writing! I have other writing jobs lined up. Paying jobs!  The project I have been working on that includes writing about Aboriginal health, with someone I respect and admire greatly will still be going forward. I am embracing the tentative excitement I now have about the future. I mentioned to someone that ideally I would be able to make a living from writing alone, and even though a few writing gigs does not put me in that position, it has made me more determined to keep working on my writing, no matter what 9 to 5 I will hopefully land soon. I occasionally think I should pinch myself, this time last week I was less than an inch from homelessness and anxiousness was pushing me close to an emotional break.

I am very fortunate and privileged to be a part of a very vibrant and understanding Twitter community. A community that didn’t hesitate for a second to offer and extend help. I am very fortunate and privileged to have an online space for my voice through my blog when there are so many others who don’t. I hope that me sharing my story has bought some attention to the difficulties that others are facing. I hope the communities of people looking poverty in the eye are as generous as the online community I count myself lucky to be a part of. It is so much easier to hope when financial pressure eases. So many people say that money doesn’t make you happy. But I can say that in my case, and with the utmost certainty, it lessens the stress that contributes to unhappiness.

How do you even begin to thank people who have helped make it easier to regain your emotional stability? For helping to clear the path so your family can keep a roof over their heads? For helping you get some paid work while you try to rebuild your life and keep trying to get permanent work? What I have written here hasn’t even come close to describing the gratitude I feel.

In lieu of the thousand other words I can write, I will say simply, with the utmost sincerity, my family and I thank you.

On Racist incidents in Australia 2013 part 2 – Electric Boogaloo

Round two. Also known as the wait, did I just quantum leap back to 1930? Round.

A group of 8 Australian men attack 5 Jewish people as they were walking home from a Synagogue in Sydney.

Two people were hospitalised and the injuries received ranged from a fractured cheekbone to a broken nose, concussion, lacerations and bruising. A spokesperson from the Sydney Jewish community stated that the victims told him this attack was unprovoked and racially motivated.  There is NO excuse for this kind of violence in the 21st century.

If only there was a way to firmly deter and prosecute this kind of racially motivated violence and abuse, oh wait, there is, it’s the Racial Discrimination Act, currently flagged by the federal government to be scrapped, and replaced with …….. nothing.

The University of Western Australias  student guild publishes racist jokes in its satirical PROSH newspaper.

The next generation of racists certainly aren’t lagging behind their racist parents when it comes to denigrating Aboriginal Australians if their “Dreamtime Horoscopes” are anything to go by. All the usual stereotypes are present in the supposedly comedic piece, including sniffing petrol and getting enormous amounts of money from the government.    

I recently read a piece by Mia McKenzie on Black Girl Dangerous, who stated “Satire works best when you are flipping the script on the oppressor, on the system. When you are calling attention to the ways that the system is jacked by amplifying the absurdity of that system. Not caricaturing and otherwise disrespecting the people who are oppressed by that system.” I can think of no other way to adequately explain how much this supposedly “satirical” student newspaper fucked up.  (And please, go read Black Girl Dangerous, it is one of the best sites out there).

The Indigenous Communities Education and Awareness Foundation WAS one of the groups that received some of the profits from the sale of PROSH. This association no longer exists, for obvious reasons.

Indian cricketer Monty Penesar is the subject of a tweet from Cricket Australia of a picture of four Indian men dressed as Teletubbies that reads “Will the real Monty Penesar please stand up”.

Ohhhhhh because all brown men look the same right? That’s so funny …. NOT. This ingrained casual racism that the herald sun dubs “False outrage that distracts from fight against real racism” is STILL racism. I have no idea where this sliding scale of racism comes from. Racism is racism full stop. Right wing arseholes that try to distract from ANY racism via placing it on a god damn bell curve are the only ones distracting from racism PERIOD.

**BONUS RACISM ROUND**

The week before Cricket Australia decided to let a racist jackarse loose on it’s Twitter account, the ABC and Cricket Australia were busy in Alice Springs with their own racist jackarse, David Nixon. Who was the ground announcer. This dipshit thought it would be funny to announce Monty Panesar with a thick Indian accent. This arsehole denies he was being racist, and from what I can gather, denies he used the accent at all. And I know brown and black Aussies will be nodding in agreement when I say this – Some people are so clueless and unaware of their racism they don’t, even for one second, realise they are doing it and when they are called on it, will honestly believe they have done nothing wrong. Then continue to be racist until the day they die. But usually spreading their particular brand of racism to their kids, their grandkids, nieces, nephews and any other spongelike mind.

Racist taxi drivers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra, Rockhampton, Cairns, Darwin, ok my fingers are getting sore. You get the picture.

For the purposes of time, space and my poor fingers, I’ll use the Melbourne cabbies that repeatedly refused fares to a group of Aboriginal actors who were in Melbourne rehearsing, often until the early hours at the Malthouse theatre as an example of this brand of racism that I myself, my youngest son, a quick ring around poll of my cousins, roughly 95% of have dealt with on numerous occasions.

The actors involved resorted to asking white theatre staff to hail taxis while they waited around the corner, and after the taxi had pulled up, would quickly hop in. I don’t even have the words to describe the humiliation of this occurrence. It really does feel like a swift kick in the guts, the way the air just seems to leave your body all at once. Then the hot/cold feeling of shame. It’s excruciating to feel and embarrassing to recount.  

Black peoples money is worth decidedly less when it comes to taxis in this country. There really ought to be a law that protects black people from this kind of incident, maybe some kind of racial discrimination law …. Oh wait.

Part 3 coming soon.

On racist incidents in Australia 2013. Part one of a ten thousand part series.

Sick of the most blah blah of 2013 lists yet? No? Good, because here’s another one. I will be making this an annual thing, and since this is the first one I’m attempting ever, it’s not going to be good But hey, it’ll be better next year right? RIGHT? We can live in hope, says the most powerful black man in the world, Jay Z. And on that note, here goes the list of the most racist incidents in no particular order other than the order in which I am remembering them.

Adam Goodes gets called an ape by a 13 year old girl.

This one is stands out in my mind. Because it was Indigenous round of the AFL week, a week to celebrate reconciliation, culture, recognising Indigenous sporting excellence and reflect on the hard road Australian Aboriginals have faced and are still facing in regards to inclusion in all areas of society. The poise and grace shown by Goodes towards the young girl was exemplary. I had a very fiery blog post written and ready to publish, but refrained in light of Goodes plea to be ‘Very sensitive and very careful about how this girl gets treated’ in reference to her age.

This incident highlights the fact that racism is NOT going away. If a 13 year old is slinging racial insults, what does that say about this country trying to present itself as a non-racist nation? I have heard countless times that Australian racists are older people. This is not the case. If anything, younger people are becoming even more outspokenly prejudiced than the generation that preceded them.

**BONUS RACISM** Eddie McGuire then went on a radio station to talk about the incident, and promptly added more racism to the already blazing bonfire of the racists. Eddie apologised, he really really really was so very very sorry. Not sorry enough to resign in disgrace though, nor were his superiors embarrassed enough to sack his racist arse. STRAYA, racist one day, really bloody racist the next.

Andrew Laming. Federal member for Bowman, QLD. Tweets ”Mobs tearing up Logan. Did any of them do a day’s work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?”

The tweet was in response to tensions which flared up in violence between Aboriginal and Pacific Islander communities in Logan. This is exactly the kind of insensitive stereotypical remark that only perpetuates stereotypes of particular people of colour in this country. Stereotypes 200 years old and still going strong, because of repulsive racist men like Laming who are never shy about being openly racist on any platform, because they know there will never be any real backlash that would cause him to lose his job or be penalised in any way.

In fact, this revoltingly hateful piece of shit went on to retain his seat in Bowman. Which says as much about the majority of the Bowman electorate than a full page ad on stormfront. And just to add to the particularly vile bio of Laming, he recently tweeted in response to a picture of a nurse in her gym gear, described as an average Australian woman at 163cm tall and weighing 70kg “So it’s OK to be overweight, if it is now average!”

He not only hates black people, he hates white women who weigh more than 70kg too.

Olivia Mahon. The woman who decided it would be ok to throw an African themed Birthday party, complete with blackface.

Olivias response? “People wear Oktoberfest costumes to parties and no one cracks it that they are not German”.  She then went on to say “To be honest I am not a racist person at all so I didn’t think anyone could possibly take it that way”. Really Olivia? I think it’s safe to say the majority of black people from 6 continents and quite a few nonblack people as well DID take it that way.

Susan Bernobich. The racist who was videoed abusing 2 Asian students on a bus in Sydney.

Susan hit the headlines after her racially abusive tirade went viral on youtube. She was tracked down and charged with offensive language. A charge for which she was issued a bond without conviction. The judge ruled that she was really so very sorry and absolutely genuinely contrite. She then went on A Current Racist, oops, I meant, A Current Affair, cried some crocodile tears, maybe got paid, maybe didn’t, and now will only be racist when she is absolutely sure no one is filming her.

 

Part 2 Coming soon.

On the Indigenous Advisory Council

bullshit

On My Life As a Statistic

From the minute I was born in my brown skin I have been an outcome waiting to happen from a targeted campaign placed by a government program dreamt up by white people in a room devoid of brown faces.

I am a number in a column full of other numbers in other columns belonging to other brown people. Spread sheets for miles populated by living breathing individuals with hopes, dreams, problems and lives. Reduced to outcome targets and KPIs.

Born brown, this row. School, this row. Criminal record, this row. Single parent, that row. Mental health, new book. Drug addiction, other row. Victim of violence, wheres that other sheet. Unemployed, whole column.

Is there any other population in the world more closely studied and statistified? If so, I bet they’re Indigenous too.

Am I a person? I’ve read about the institutionalisation of our people through prisons. Being given a number, the loss of identity, the rigidity of routine, the breaking. I’m not in prison. Or am I?

On, my introduction to racism

I was asked recently what my earliest memory of racism was. 

I had to sift through years upon years of incidents, and none them are small. All of these incidents have had a profound effect on me. Which is why when I see phrases like ‘low level racism’ I do a double take, who says that? I think to myself. 

There’s a saying, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ Whoever coined that saying was white. And I say this with utmost certainty. Because when it comes to racism, there is no small stuff. 

My earliest memory is of me, sitting on my mothers lap, on a bus. The bus is full of other people, of all walks of life, from all over the world it seems to me at the time. A small girl across the aisle catches my eye, with beautiful blonde pig tails sticking out of her head, (oh how I envied blonde pig tails when I was small). 

This lil girl is around 4, same as me, and blonde and gorgeous to my then non discerning eye. I catch her eye across the aisle and grin, she catches my grin, smiles back and waves. 

The bus stops and more people get on, including an African lady wearing an exquisite turban. This lady sits down in the seat in front of Ms Pigtails and stretches her arm alongside the back of the seat. Ms Pigtails then says to her mother, in a rather dismissive tone ‘Eww, she doesn’t wash her elbows’! 

I looked at the lady in questions elbows, and realised, her elbows looked exactly like my Nannas elbows, my Nanna was cleaner than anybody! She made me scrub every last inch of my own self when I stayed over! I waited for Ms Pigtails mother to correct her, but much to my astonishment, Ms Pigtails mother said, ‘Yes, they are filthy, stay away from them’! Ms Pigtails mother then stood up and moved to the back of the bus, to a seat far from the elbow that had apparently discomfited her so much.

That was my intro to racism. I wonder if Ms Pigtails realises that it may have been her introduction as well. 

 

 

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