Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mother and the Blackies

We caught up with Non Dreaded Nephew and his partner at a family celebration for the first time since they returned from their five month trip in South America. It was great to see them and hear their traveller tales. While the nephew spends his weekdays in Gippsland preventing and fighting fires, he and his partner have moved from their shared North Carlton house to their own flat in Footscray and are quite happy there.

While chatting about Footscray food and changing demographics, the subject of the African immigrants who are populating the area came up. Mother had briefly paused from talking about her medical issues with someone else and she chipped in, "We have them". Indeed she does. Quite a number have moved into Mother's town. But oh dear, where is she going?

"My friend Margaret's street is full of blackies, the really dark ones, you know." Margaret lives close to Dandenong on a long road. Oh, mother, not in front of your grandson. Where is Mother going with this? Hmm, must check if Mother knows nephew's partner is Jewish, lest she say anything untoward in front of her. While mother's choice of nouns could well be called into question, she went on to say,

"I've always liked bright coloured clothing and the blackie women do too. They are getting very involved in the local community organisations and oh how they adore their children and seem to just overwhelm them with love, and they always dress them so beautifully."

Not so much the two younger of us siblings, but ABI Brother and myself were always dressed in very expensive clothing. That we didn't like our clothes was beside the point. The point being, well dressed children impress Mother.

When Mother first met her neighbour's new mail order bride from the Philippines, she described her as 'one of those Philippino Thai type people'. Yet as the years went on, they both became widow neighbours and looked out for each other.  Sadly Remy suicided and we never really found out why.

Mother was born in 1934 and grew up in a very conservative tea total society of honest lower middle class church going people of the land (never mind their black market trading during the war and post war). R and myself once had a freestanding wardrobe stamped with the manufacture date being the year of Mother's birth and also stamped, European Labour Only.

Mother's choice of words may be poor and she is full of the old prejudices, but she is not an unkind person and treats everyone with kindness and respect if she thinks there is something in it for her.


28 comments:

  1. My father was much the same. He introduced a student of his to me as 'cheap Japanese rubbish' which made me cringe. And went out of his way to ensure that said student met people who could help him settle into a foreign land and culture. And invited said 'cheap Japanese rubbish' to dinner anytime he was in the neighbourhood. An offer which was accepted. Often.

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    1. EC, and you know if our parents were young people like us, cough, they would probably be far less forthright and offensive with their language.

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  2. I remember my mother's phrase of " darkies"
    Even as a child it made me wince

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    1. John, is it that to us they are just such loaded words and they weren't as much back then? My grandparents used to refer to our Aborigines as darkies.

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  3. We have a lot of Africans here in Adelaide too, some brown, some dark brown, some black. They all appear to dress well and I love the bright colours on the women and children. Most of them men I see wear smart casual or suits, I don't think I've seen any of them in sagging gangster style pants and scruffy tees. I'm not worried about them being here, people have to live somewhere and if here is better than there for them, that's fine.

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    1. River, I think it the first generation born here, or who grew up here is where it goes wrong at times. This seems to be the case here and happened with other immigrant groups too.

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  4. We live in the Middle East here in Granville, funny some are they are all different religions, lately we have more Asians have moved in and I don't think they are happy about that.
    But the beer fairy is a bit on the raciest side he called them tea towel ladies and letter box ladies, but as he has got to know them personally and he has names he uses their names so I now look at it as a lable until the right one is known.
    Merle............

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    1. Surely he doesn't get to speak to a letter box lady? I thought they avoided contact with men other than their family. Having people from other countries around you does make an area more interesting.

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    2. Correction no one gets to speak to a letter box lady but not many of those around here mainly tea towel ladies, lots of them.
      Merle..............

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    3. Tea towel ladies are quite acceptable and welcome in Australia. Not so letter box women.

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  5. Andrew, I love bright colout clothing too, I hate black ones. What bout your mum she is in a great shape and so clever and the world has changed and her point of annle can be differnt.. But I am sure she is a fantastic woman

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    1. Gosia, she is ok in her own way and contact with people makes her think more widely.

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  6. Oh my your dear mother :) My parents were similar way back with Japanese goods. Time moved on and they then loved anything made in Japan.
    We have several dark coloured people living on the other side of town - the northern side. They do dress their children and themselves in lovely bright colours as do our indigenous people in northern Australia.

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    1. WA, I am surprised to hear you have what I take it to be African immigrants. It must be very hard for them when there are so few.

      Yes, I remember the phrase ' cheap Jap stuff' very well. How the world has changed.

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    2. Yes they are African, lovely and black with braided hair.
      Indeed the world has changed, for the better in many cases and for the worst in other.

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    3. WA, yes, we could ponder whether there really prefer to on north coast of Tasmania or in their own country, familiar and a natural home to them, but riven with strife.

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  7. Yes people of that generation may be full of the old prejudices, at least in their thinking and language, if not in their behaviour. That doesn't make it any less offensive to the African/Japanese/Arab people they are discussing ... just we know where the language comes from.

    I believed our generation was totally free of that prejudice. But the first time I was in Germany (1971), I kept looking at the faces of older men, wondering it they had been mass murderers back in 1939-45. Everyone, I suppose, has their own prejudices *blush*.

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    1. Hels, first para, so true.

      There was a time when wealthy Jewish people here would not dream of buying a Mercedes and favoured Volvo. Raoul Wallenberg and all that. But times seem to have changed.

      None of us are free of prejudice. I have often pondered over average German reluctance to interfere in the process, and some did or tried, but your average person did not. Are Germans so different to any other race? Of course not. It was circumstances and a charismatic person. Circumstances could have arisen anywhere, but Germany was a powerful state. Terrible things still happen in the world but not to that extent and not in so called civilised countries.

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    2. I don't think Germans are any worse than anyone else. It's just human nature, and sometimes human nature is very ugly.

      But like Hels, my family has said some prejudice things about Germans (behind their backs). Though for the most part we're joking (in a dark way). Kind of the same stuff though...wondering if they have Nazis in their family tree.

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    3. Dina, humans can turn very bad, can't they. It is increasingly becoming something that is not in anyone's living memory and maybe things will change from then.

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  8. Your Mum probably doesn't realise that the term "blackies" is politically incorrect. Its a term she grew up with and is not denigrating in her mind. After all she is supportive of them.

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    1. Diane, I am not so sure. I can imagine in certain company, she would not use the word. But yes, it is not such a loaded word for her.

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  9. My Mum was a little like that too Andrew, but a kinder, gentler person there never was.. gosh how I miss her bloopers, it was five years this week, hence the trip to Pinaroo and the kangaroos :)

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    1. Grace, what's the saying? Forgive them lord for they know not what they say. Five years......passes so quickly.

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  10. Funny. There was an article recently about people in Liberia, and how fashion is very important to them.

    Sometimes people will say politically uncorrect things that are not mean at all...but actually somewhat kind.

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    1. Dina, interesting about fashion. It certainly seems true. I have been known to say something that may not be politically correct, but such can be used for dramatic effect.

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  11. There's a whole new industry grown up over the last few decades, costing us all billions, just to find 'non-offensive' ways of describing people without using the dreaded words that 'everyone' finds 'offensive'. I suppose once the word 'black' is removed from our vocabularies, someone will find 'of African appearance' offensive, and so the whole cycle will start again. The racial equality quangos aren't going to do themselves out of work, are they? Notice, too, that we 'whites' are not expected to be upset when referred to as such. Hypocrisy. And I am a little worried about the comment about 'wondering if there are Nazis in the family tree' - surely as bad as suggesting someone has 'a touch of the tarbrush'? Apart from the fact it's well known the Germans are militaristic and love nothing more than donning a uniform, though not quite as much now as, say, thirty years ago. I know, I've been there, frequently, and recently .

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  12. Chris, a bit beyond me, but I have used the term, touch of the tarbrush in selected company. I don't think this stuff has cost billions, but certainly millions. I blame Al Grassby.

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