After 2 months in Asia where you understood the constant pointing and stares highlighting the fact that you were not a local, I thought coming back to Australia for a second time would be super easy. We could just relax and blend into the background without having randoms stare you out for 15 mins straight, whilst chowing down on your chicken thai green curry in a small restaurant. Well once again I totally got this so very wrong.
The first time I went to Oz it was pretty much a month of loud mouthed British 18 - 30s indulging in drinking stupid amounts at night and sleeping in the day with some cultural sights thrown in the mix that you were too hungover to fully appreciate. I loved it! I met some brilliant people and we had an awesome time. On my return home I was convinced Oz was the place for me and applied to numerous recruitment agencies and immigration officers to sort my visa... however like most of my fanciful thoughts, they turn to dust after the reality of money (lack of) drop kicks you into submission. However on returning from my second trip to the land down under, I can honestly say that I have no intention of really going back let alone setting up home there.
I was told by an Aussie mate (lovely Sheeny! Super girl who still owes me a bloody roast dinner...bitch!) before setting off travelling, how she apologises in advance for her country and the way I may be treated there. I was baffled but did the classic nod and smile trickery I adopt when I'm confused.
It wasn't until I actually got to Australia that it all became so very clear. Unlike many locals in Asia who genuinely haven't seen a Black person before, the Aussies clearly have but some folk I'm afraid were straight up racists :( On my first trip to Oz many years ago I was purely there for the party times but this time round I was more aware of my surroundings as we travelled down the East Coast for 2 months in a campervan we named Bill! At first I didn't know if it was the afro, the lip ring (which I later took out due to boredom) or the clear (and by clear I mean totally discreet-ish!) pungent smell of homosexuality I was radiating that made people stare at me. This time there were no good vibes of my celebrity status I had experienced in China, but a distinct feeling of hostility.
Young children would obviously stare and point and older folk would 'politely' look away if I caught their eye. We went on a night out to a famous cabaret show called 'Dracula's' in Surfers Paradise and I was called out infront of everyone as a look-a-like of the American singer Macy Gray to a deafening roar of laughter from the audience. Ok so I rock a 'fro but thats where the similarities end... although I may sound like her after a heavy night of drinking. It wasn't a 'funny ha ha' comment as it was clear that I was the only Black person in the audience, and the comedian just wanted to highlight this some more. Nice. This then 'hilarious' comedian continued the sketch by taking the piss out of Indians. Again...nice. Needless to say we sat there not laughing and wishing the night would come to an end.
Byron Bay was the next stop and this is your ultimate chill out town with hippy laid back vibes, so clearly everyone is accepting... right? I really thought so until the racist fairy came along sprinkling her evil racist fairy dust! Not one person wanted to sit next to us at a busy bar one Friday night. People were entering the bar, looking at our table that could have fitted another 28 people and a family of obese pandas... but still folks would squash themselves onto other randoms tables. Ok granted we had a whole table to ourselves so happy days... but it felt weird. I was wondering if it was my paranoia as you know how we Black people love to play the 'race card' (!) so I kept quiet staring into my glass until my friend told me to drink up we were leaving, as she refused to sit in a place where racial tension was apparently celebrated.
The last straw was a bus trip to the airport in Melbourne where an elderly white lady asked me to move as she didn't want to sit next to me. Of course she tried to say that 'you would be more comfortable at the front' and 'you will have more room over there dear' Due to embarrassment and shock I finally moved and watched as a white guy got on and sat next to her with no trouble or issue at all. I tried to hold down my tears as I went over in my head what I should have said but didn't, and I got majorly annoyed that my 'angry black woman' persona had pissed off on holiday the one time I needed her!
Don't get me wrong as I don't hate Australians as I have a couple of good Aussie mates who are not threatened or offended by my skin complexion. This is just my own personal experience. I don't wanna start upsetting anyone... and if I do... then bite me!
It's just sad to think in a society where you believe racial issues were abolished back in the day when Dr King and Malcolm X were doing their thing (oooh that rhymes!) but in fact racism is still living and breathing stronger than ever. Small kids are being taught from their parents that if someone looks a little different then this is clearly a bad thing. A friend also told me he overheard an Aussie teacher slate Aborigines and this is a school teacher who is supposed to be educating children! I'm not sure what decade Australia are living in but some folks on the East Coast need to fix up look sharp, as if I catch you staring at me again or calling me Macy or Whoopi Goldberg one more time... I will break my Black foot off in your untanned pasty ass! The only real thing I miss about my time in Oz is Bill our campervan and finding a shop that sold Malibu and coke in a can... winner!