This may be a repeat but worth repeating I suppose. I don't want any reader to think of me as any more racist than your average young educated person.
I had a work mate who was Indian. It was not long after he started working at the same place, we discovered that each of us was gay. We both had partners and one of them was one of the brother friends who we are still friends with. We all used to socialize a lot, went to Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, dance parties, bars, clubs, picnics, plant nurseries, cafes etc etc. We were pretty close for a long time and after they separated, we remained friends with both and my workmate's various boyfriends along the way.
One day about ten years ago when he was stopping working at the same place and bought a modest house in the country, for reasons we can only speculate on, he told R that he did want us to visit him the country, if fact he did not want to see us again. He did not tell me to my face, just to R for him to repeat. We were shocked and very very hurt. We did not know why and nor could we find out. He also ditched any contact with the brother friends, one being his ex lover. We think we worked out why, but it is only speculation and it took us some time to recover, perhaps a year or more. I became a little bit of a harder person that day.
But that is just background.
One day in my work place, I heard someone call my friend a black c***. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. He wasn't a black c***. Ok, he wasn't born here, but he is a perfectly respectable Australian and my friend and workmate. I wasn't in a position to intervene or say anything and even if I was, I am not sure that I would have. I pretended I didn't hear and my friend pretended that I did not hear.
I was given to wondering how often has this happened to him? He wasn't particularly dark skinned so I would expect it happened more often with darker skinned workmates. How must it be to go through life being called names like that?
Ok, I have my fair share of being called a poofter, but as I get older, I am clearly a less obvious poofter. In fact I haven't heard it for ages. Now, like many women over 40, I have become invisible. I am not noticed or seen. Back then, I could butch it up and not be seen as a poofter.
But if I was black of skin, I could never cover that up. It would be with me from cradle to grave, unless my name is Michael Jackson.
Racism is still alive and well in Australia, but thankfully it is far less obvious and blatant.
Even Muslims and the dislike so many feel towards them, is not racism. It is dislike of what is done in the name of religion and attitudes.
While it is not inconceivable that people in Australia still get called black c****, I hope and think it is much less common.
Yes, I am bit racist and so are you dear reader. We all are. But I would not like to be thought of as a racist person.
When I was twenty five years in my workplace, I had to give a speech at my presentation. I pretty well ignored management pricks, but I deeply thanked my workmates from perhaps thirty different countries for the world education that they have given me. From the killing fields of Cambodia, to Rhodesian refugees, the war in The Lebanon, the French in Mauritius, Pinnochet's Chile, white Russians in the old Russia to asking a Jewish person what the word Levantine meant. (I did not even know he was Jewish until later but he was an intellectual type and I knew he would know).
I'm afraid I don't connect so well with new people at work. But the ones I have known a long time I treasure and they are from all over the world. I find I am often ignored a bit by new people from foreign climes at work and then something happens and then suddenly they are really friendly towards me.
I expect they speak to one of their countrymen who I have worked with for a long time and they are told that although I am gay, I am ok. I don't mind being thought of as 'ok'.