I wanted to walk to the library, and before I left, my father admonished me of several things.
"Take your mobile, take your bag, and watch out for Aborigines."
This statement alone is racist and generalised, but I could have forgiven his prejudice if he left it at that. But he went on.
"If you see any, watch them carefully. Look at their faces, and follow them. Especially if they’re hanging around buildings." He emphasised this several times. Identify them, try and figure out where they’re going, and report findings back to HQ, sir yes sir. "Call me on your mobile if you see any."
Okay, now that’s a few steps too far. I presumed he wanted to protect me, but he took it yet another step farther.
"Why?" I asked him, crossly.
"So I can beat them up!"
I stopped. I blinked, I swallowed, I tried to get a grip on what he just said. He was biting his lip and his fist was trembling. Whoa. I tried to tell him that by thinking Aborigines were going to beat you up, you’d only give them room for that one option. Unless you gave them a chance to be treated as humans, they wouldn’t be allowed to be good citizens or whatever. But of course he ignored this, and I left, closing the door sadly behind me.
On the way, I did encounter and Aborigine riding on his bike. As always, I slowed my walk in case I had to shift into a fighting stance and defend myself. I do this when any slow-moving car, pedestrian or cyclist approaches. Was I extra careful because his skin was black? I admit it. I was. I didn’t freak out and run for my life, or call Dad. We simply acknowledged one another with eye contact, as he passed.
I don’t know how to break the cycle of racism. But my Dad… He’s just a few steps away from burning down houses and spray painting hate messages. What should I do? I don’t know.