Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Once a year white fella

That was Pop;
A once-a-year-white-fella.
On Anzac Day,
When he would march,
And we’d stand proud.

Pop couldn’t go,
‘cause he’d broke his neck.
Worked as a spotter, fell out of a tree;
Government man said “No room for you”.

So he stayed home,
And did his bit.

Couldn’t carry a gun to war,
But he could work a farm and trap a rabbit.
He fed the families of men who had gone.

They came home,
Broken bodies, aching hearts,
To families still whole.

Those who leaned on him all those years,
Crossed the street, and turned away.
Pop was no longer good enough to know.

But every year,
Until he passed,
The men held a place in that parade for him,
And I got to see him be a once-a-year white-fella.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Expectations vs. Experiences (aka PR vs. the Sceptic)

Down the years, I have learnt the best way to go about encountering new things is to put aside all expectations, be they good or bad, and just experience things.  I still get caught, and if I find myself anticipating how good/bad something will be, I force myself to stop thinking about it, reminding myself that opinion is subjective.  Scepticism works.  My husband told me Lake Tahoe was stunning (as did everyone else who had ever been there), but I was sceptical.  And it was stunning.  The 'tourist' side was fantastic, but the other areas were beyond words.  The Tenderloin was terrifying (think all the movies/tv shows that show African American thugs, junkies, hookers and so on all on the streets, shooting dice, carrying big guns, smoking crack etc.).  I think whoever writes that stuff must have visited the Tenderloin.

That time, my scepticism went the other way; I didn't think it could be THAT bad.  I was wrong, it was all the bad things you see on TV, but real and in your face.  How we got through we will never know.

Neither did one of the hookers who walked past us 1 block in; she was at the other end when we (finally) got there.  She looked at us, laughed and said "I never thought I'd see you again.  I'm glad you are ok."  And then gave us directions to our hotel, before deciding she would escort us back to make sure we were safe - she left us a block from the hotel "My sort aren't welcome there.  It was nice to meet you.  Look after yourselves, and thank you for giving me such a great story".  She was well-spoken, friendly and obviously had considerable education, along with a very interesting look (bright pink/platinum blonde mohawk, Ed Hardy Tshirt, ocelot print tights, pastel paisley gumboots, pastel blue leather biker jacket and a giant shoulder bag).  And let me tell you, she rocked that look.  Had any of us followed the expectations of society, I would:

  •     Never have walked through there (you'll die - and on any other day, we probably would have, we got lucky, we all agree.  4 middle-class white [I'm Aboriginal, and the other lady was half Mexican, but to them we would have looked white] people walking through a place where even the law won't go.  We were easy pickings, (2 small women, a cripple and an old man) and yet we survived.

  •     Never spoken to the hooker  (they are all after your money, and work with other crims to get it).  I will admit, I have broken this rule a few times, Hawaii was classic, they would stop the guys, and when the Mister spoke, it was on for young and old.  We took 4 hours to walk a 20 minute distance, because so many wanted to talk the the Aussies.  They didn't want anything more than to ask us about Australia, warn us about who/what to avoid.  Same with the gangbangers, who escorted us through every night, and took us to the best eateries, standing guard down the block while we ate, then escorting us home again.  It was surreal.  We saw a side of Honolulu that most tourists don't, with the locals, and it was amazing.

In the end though both were experiences I will never forget, ones I can tell my grandkids about, and further supports my theory that sceptics have more fun.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some things are never okay - racism is one of them

Yesterday, in a dog-related group on Facebook, a major blue occurred.  The cause?  A racist remark.  The argument went on for over an hour; I was busy doing house-stuff (or motor-home stuff), so had to rely on reports from my husband.  I don't remember the whole of what he told me, but the initial post stuck with me.

Basically, a young Aboriginal family had a dog which was digging under a shared fence; the woman whose fence it was feared that if she said something to them, she would be the victim of an Aboriginal crime-wave.  I get that; I've had neighbours who have scared the bejabbers out of me, I'd be too scared to talk to them too (although their skin colour/religion etc had nothing to do with it, their previous behaviour did).  But, she had the woman and her daughter over as visitors, for coffee and to swim in their pool on a regular basis.

Ok.  So, I had to read the originating post, to make sure I hadn't mis-heard, or misunderstood.  I hadn't.  I was pissed.

As I say, the row went on for over an hour, I got there 5 minutes before the thread was deleted.  The majority of posters, and the original poster kept insisting that she wasn't being racist.  I disagreed.  Hard.

I came into the discussion with this "I'm Aboriginal, I'm here, and I'm pissed!

Silence. Resounding silence.

I went to check email, and came back to my post to find a whole bunch of likes, and my inbox overflowing with supportive messages.  I even got apologies from people who had previously said this woman was not being racist, and thanks from others. Say what?!

I missed something.  I got on there because I was pissed.  Offended and hurt, to be more accurate.  I didn't want anyone to say anything to me, I just wanted this woman to realise what she was saying was hurtful and offensive.  Not to mention wrong.  Although I guess, as one poster said to me, I opened people's eyes to the fact that racism not only exists, but is seen as acceptable by some Australians.