in a tad of trouble," someone said to me yesterday.
We were waiting for a meeting to start. I had pedalled over in the sun and was feeling more like curling up for a cat nap. I just looked at the speaker and, although I privately agree, tried not to look as if I was passing judgment.
He went on talking and I went on half-listening. Suddenly he said, "You think I'm prejudiced don't you? You think just because she identifies as indigenous nobody should criticise her."
Fortunately someone else butted in at that point because I do think he may be prejudiced. I have heard him make mildly disparaging remarks before but I have always sensed he is holding back and would like to say a great deal more than he does.
But it did raise a question in my mind. The Senator in question is alleged to have used or attempted to have used public funds for personal benefit. Yes, she could be in trouble because of it. I won't say any more than that. I don't know the story. I don't want to know. She also identifies as "aboriginal" although I think her heritage may be more complex or diverse than that. She is a good looking woman with a very successful athletic history and I do not doubt she is intelligent.
She was hand picked for the role of Senator by a previous Prime Minister. Oh yes, female, indigenous, successful sports person, it seemed the PM knew what she was doing. The Senator won a seat. There were questions asked though because the PM had not consulted anyone. She made the announcement as "Captain's Pick". It did not endear her to her colleagues and it denied the party the possibility of choosing a candidate for themselves. Everyone was however very careful not to be too critical - lest it seem they were being prejudiced against an indigenous candidate.
It made me wonder at the time about the way in which so many people will be so very careful about not criticising an indigenous person. It also made me conscious of how careful so many people are about being polite to someone from another culture. They are afraid of appearing to be "racist".
After the meeting was over I was talking to another person when her daughter arrived with a five month old baby. He was awake after his afternoon nap. He had been changed and fed and was ready to take on the world.
Life won't be easy for him. His skin is the colour of good dark chocolate.
"He's adorable," I told his mother and meant it. She smiled and said, "Yes, when he's asleep." We laughed.
I sat there cuddling him for a moment, making the silly noises adults make and smiling at him. It was easy to smile. He was smiling back.
I hope he gets a lot of real smiles in his life. I also hope he gets criticised if it is justified. That will show real acceptance.