Christine and I overheard a conversation recently. It was between people of an older generation and I am often amazed and perplexed by the subtle and not so subtle racism that exists, even amongst believers in Christ, here’s my recollection of the conversation –
Person #1 “I know an aged lady who has a carer, she is black [African], and she dressed her inappropriately the other day.”
Person #2 “I know, there are so many of them in the aged homes now and they seem to be quite untrained.“
Person #1 “They come over here and get these low paying jobs and they just don’t know what they are doing.”
Person #2 “I guess by the time we are in aged care they will ALL be black people caring for us!!”
Later Chris asked, “What would you have said if you had the chance?”
I would have said something like, “Is it not wonderful that we live in a country that has open enough borders [sometimes!] to give persecuted, destitute and homeless people from other countries a chance to live and a second chance at making a life for themselves”
Christine’s response would have been even better – She would have said…
“Do you not ever think that these ‘black’ folks might be wondering what is wrong with us ‘white folks’ that we should put all our oldest most wise, and honoured elderly into institutions and pay base wages to strangers to care for them?”
She is soo wise!!
4 thoughts on “Conversations”
The reason they are working in old aged homes is because no one else wants to do it. So newly arrived people have to start at the bottom.
In Ceduna Karyn had a lady tell her that the locks on the toilets were to keep the aboriginals out. Karyn didn’t know what to say to the lady, she was too stunned.
Before I left Toowoomba, we had helped some fantastic volunteers, agencies and 1 or 2 churches to ‘settle’ nearly 1,000 Southern Sudanese refugees – this is in a town of 100,000. Imagine – 1 in 100 and tall, handsome and very very black. Couldn’t miss them.
So, out come the lurking neo-nazis with death threats, stalking, hate mail, and a couple of ugly acts of targetted violence. I remember standing late at night with a mate outside the home of a Sudanese family waiting for the return of a carload of rocket scientists who thought it would be a good idea to rock the roof and yell abuse. Had to have a nice cup of tea after that one.
But the neo-nazi lunatics are easy – hardly anyone really subscribes to their hateful approach, so it can actually get some of the undecideds ‘on side’. It’s the quiet racism that is the most insidious – like the conversation you and Christine o’heard. And, you know, lots and lots of it comes from people who don’t call themselves Christians, but lots of it does! Shame!
And once again, public apathy creates a space (albeit a barren one) in which refugee settlement generally is free to take place; but apathy should not be equated with compassion or respect. It seems to give people a ‘fair go’ but in fact it really only wants not to be bothered by someone else’s woes.
And as bad as the Sudanese have had it, the indigenous population of Toowoomba has had it worse.
Sound angry don’t I? I am, but not only angry. We had some fantastic humbling, raucous, hope-filled experiences and have some brilliant ne friends! Racists don’t know what they’re missing.
Thanks for your honesty my friend, always refreshing.
My greatest regret was that neither of us had the bal…guts to speak up and make our thoughts known…next time!!
It still amazes me how my parents generation still speak of other cultures. Oh the stories I could tell! I am so thankful that we live in such a multi-cultural society that this is happening less & less; I’ll keep hoping & praying this is the case as we speak positively of our neighbours, whoever they may be, to our families & friends. And that our olds will be grateful to anyone who will wipe their buts when they no longer can. (U can’t believe I just said that & neither can I). I think it’s the drugs I’m taking. Suzy Q