Monday, 22 August 2016

There has apparently been another "racist attack"

at the "footy". 
This puzzles me. I would have thought the uproar last  time was so great that nobody would even consider it.  I suppose, in the heat of the game, someone let loose with language and an  act they might normally keep under control - whatever they might think.
In our family  the Senior Cat can remember his paternal grandmother, my great-grandmother, and her relationship with the indigenous community along the banks of the River Murray. My great-grandparents moved to a community there after my great-grandfather retired from his maritime role. They set up a dairy farm and, not long after, my great-grandfather suddenly dropped dead at the farm gate. 
My great-grandmother, being a "tough old Scot, a crofter's daughter", continued to run the farm with some help from one of her daughters and a son-in-law - and some of the local indigenous community. The Senior Cat and his many cousins spent time on the farm and mixed with the children from the nearby "camp". He can't remember race being mentioned among the children. Perhaps things were said among the adults. I have no doubt that my great-grandmother's wisdom in employing the men was  questioned by some but the children all knew where to look for slices of "bread and dripping".  They were handed out in her abrupt way and with a strong Caithness accent all the local children almost certainly didn't understand - but they knew to say "thankyou Mrs.... ".
My paternal grandfather took his mother's attitude. He didn't employ any of them as he didn't take on apprentices in his tailoring business but he knew  many of the indigenous people in the area around the port where he had his shop and workshop. He was often seen chatting to them - and no doubt, in his Victorian era style, telling them what to do. The Senior Cat and his brother just accepted this as normal.
And then there was R.... with whom my grandfather worked closely. She was married to a man who had become the station master at one of the nearby railway stations. (This in the days when we had station masters at such places.) They were both members of the Kaurna clan.
They lived in a railway house not far from the station closest to my grandparents' home.
R...was,  until her death, one of my closest and best friends.  I suppose I was conscious of the colour of her skin but not, I hope, in a racist sort of way. R....was just R... as far as I was concerned. She was simply the person I went to when I couldn't go to my paternal grandmother about a problem. R.... was an untrained social worker. Everyone  in the local indigenous community knew her. They went to her for robust advice, and for help. You took your shoes off when you went into R....'s house - and you minded your manners.
Her son is the one who gave me a bear hug in the middle of a busy city footpath. Yes, people stared. Neither of us cared but we were aware of it. I saw his daughter on the way home from a meeting a couple of months ago. She was outside her local library after "Story Time". I had the pleasure of  holding her toddler on my trike seat and giving him a "ride" - just as I had given her more than one "ride" at about the same age. 
After I had done that and waved them on their way someone else asked me, "Do you know them?"
I nodded and held my breath but then the other young mother said to me, "She seems awfully nice. Do you think she'd mind if I talked to her?"
So I explained about R... and the way she  had brought her family  up to include everyone and went on my way. But it saddens me because the question displayed a different sort of racism.

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