Over the din of a tragic history


A few years ago my father came home fuming.  Driving through a large Australian country town, he’d come across the following scene:


Two drivers – one turning onto the main highway and one turning off – recognised each other in passing and stopped to have a talk through their open car windows.  This effectively stopped both lanes of traffic in all directions as the two Aboriginal men, seemingly oblivious to the problem, carried on an animated and friendly discussion.


Finally, an irate driver yelled out, “Do people think you own the road?”


Without a pause one of the Aboriginal men looked up and yelled back, “Nah, mate, we own the whole fuckin’ country!”


My father was more angry at the inconsiderate driving behaviour than the comments themselves.  But I could only laugh.  The black driver’s retort was a valid one and probably designed to upset the white audience to which it was directed.


Even so, it was a hollow gesture in the end.  Aboriginal people continue to be the most marginalised Australians with lowest health standards, greater morbidity rates, higher levels of unemployment and very high rates of incarceration.


Still, for one moment, here was an Aboriginal voice rising defiant for a moment over the din of a tragic history.



Filed under australia, humour, life, racism

12 responses to “Over the din of a tragic history

  1. You have to give them 10 out of 10 for wit and 0 out of 10 for community spirit. They may be hostile to the “occupiers” but if they join in their game (e.g. by driving cars) that takes away much, if not all, of their moral superiority.

    Consider also that if the boot had been on the other foot – white men obstructing and and making race-based remarks to aboriginals – accusations of racism would be raised.

    Email SilverTiger

  2. Only me

    I was going to leave a comment.

    I was reassured to see the words “Mail (will not be published)” next to one of the comment form fields.

    And then I re-read the first comment.

    And there, at the bottom was the commenter’s email address.

    “Aaagghh!” I thought, a tad over-dramatically. “Too risky. My email address might get ‘harvested’ by spammers.”

    I’m a bit nervous about things like that, you see. And it’s pointless to leave a comment unless you feel happy about leaving a real email address.

    So I left…

  3. A tragic history, a witty comment, a well-written post. I only wish that defiance more often took the form of living a dignified life in the face of marginalisation.

  4. Thanks, Bean – I enjoyed your Austraian bar story.

  5. Well, I suppose someone has to say it in case Only me returns for a further look. My email address appears at the bottom of my posts because I put it there myself.

    And it’s still there. You can’t lead you life in fear of spammers.

    Email SilverTiger

  6. lmao Obviously “only me” isn’t that worried. He/she left the comment anyway and lo-and-behold his/her address isn’t there!
    Anyway, it’s interesting to read about race issues in other countries. Sometimes I think it can’t be as bad as the US, having shipped Africans over to be used as slaves, but really it exists everywhere.

  7. It’s a very strange thing, HeavenandHeck, but the racism of my hometown was very singular and extended only to Aboriginal people. At the movies we would have tears in our eyes at the plight of the African American in the US, later we would shake our heads in disgust with Apartheid. But the black people in our town we failed to see through anything but the most jaundiced eye. At best, they stirred in us paternalism, at worst a real enmity. I was only a boy but I felt this deeply and accepted it as a child does. Then one day I was sent away to university and another world was revealed.

  8. “Familiarity breeds contempt”: we often feel more compassionate for strangers than for our own.

    Racism is a topic whose time has some: everyone everywhere is going on about it. In the meantime, so many other forms of discrimination and prejudice continue unnoticed and uncensored.

    There are fads and fashions in morality as in everything else.

    Email SilverTiger

  9. Should we ignore and forget predjudice and discrimination because it is”faddish?” Because “everyone is going on about it” like some Wildean farce about cucumber sandwiches? “Racism is a ‘topic?'” You are privileged, M’am, to live in a place where racism is a “topic. “

  10. Is this a true story told to you by your Father?

    If it is, you two seem to have a great relationship, and your father great wit.

  11. Thank you, Zaid – the witty person is the black man. Although, if we had time, I could tell you about my father, a very funny man indeed.

  12. Julie, maybe a freizeitangebote fuer jugendlich woman brought in the next few minutes. Still.

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