Opinions of a murri woman...

Opinions of a murri woman...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Uncomfortable Skin of Black Youth

Taking on a parenting role, your sole job in life is to take care of a child and protect them from the evils life can offer them.

In the past few months, I’ve watched my brother slowly turn into a young man. His facial hair growing slowly and his voice changing with a slight crack in it. I am enjoying the last few months with him as a ‘Child’ because I know, I’m going to blink one day and his childhood will be stolen from us, just like his baby years were.

Although all I do is try my best to protect him from the things that can hurt him in life, I know there are something’s that I won’t be able to avoid. In the past few weeks, he’s come home from various places (eg: shopping centres, McDonalds), and told me of his ‘experiences’. Older people pushing in front of him in lines, pretending they haven’t seen him, people taking their time to serve him at the counter, people rolling their eyes at him; all of these experiences that he has had to feel.

The reality is, my brother has dark skin and he LOOKS every bit aboriginal; he is also young, loud and talented. His future should be filled with bright lights, opportunity and a sense of belonging, but lately, all I have heard from his experiences is negativity, racism and attempts to bring down his light hearted nature. I’m 26, but remember what it was like as a black youth growing up in country North Queensland. The funniest line I think I was ever subjected too was ‘Go back to where you came from’..... HHHMMMM Yeah they breed them smart up here. Oh and if you were wondering what my response to that was to that skinny white boy in my year 10 Manual Arts class, telling me, a traditional owner of the country of that very land ‘to go back to where I came from was’.. Yeah, let’s just say me and the extremely sharp chisel I was holding in my hand got kicked out of class(The Injustice).

The thing that troubles me is that my brother is a young black MAN... I know people who read this who aren’t Indigenous will say, ‘it happens to everyone’ and yes, nearly every young male experiences some kind of youth discrimination in their time, but black men in North Queensland in particular, seem to be subjected too it more so. Why? Our youth are unfairly targeted and no matter how good of a family they come from, or the strong values they are taught by their families, they will still be a young black male to the eyes of society and up here in North Queensland, that means to the post man at the post office, to the security guide at the shopping centre, to the angry teacher in class, to the police and the white woman pushing in front of him in line at McDonalds.

What can I do as his older sister to stop him from experiences the everyday youth discrimination and racism as a black male? The answer unfortunately, is I can’t do anything to stop it. Instead my advice to him is simple; know where you come from, educate yourself and become smarter than these Aussie Bogans who don’t know any better. Our mother taught us never to sit down quiet and never let anyone walk over the top of you, so even though these experiences are unnecessary and disheartening, I know he will become stronger from them and live up to our mothers expectations and stand his ground.

It sickens me that I can’t be there for him in every discriminative moment he will experience in his life, and it sickens me even more that I see it with my own eyes. Why our society is like this, I still don’t understand. The burden he and every other black man carries in their life is something to be admired. The thing is we just get used to it. We get used to the security guards following us in the shops or the old white woman tisking at us, but why should we? After 200+ years of somewhat bullsh*t oppression, I guess you can call it resistance to the way we get treated. The difference with my brother though will be self esteem, cultural identity and a strong sense of belonging that will urge him to stand his ground and speak up for himself.

My brother turns 14 in November. He’s still afraid of the dark, still asks me if he can sleep in my room every night, still rides his bike around the neighbourhood, and still says ‘I love you’ to me before he goes to bed. I am cherishing every moment of his childhood before his youth and adulthood kicks in. I just hope the harsh society in which he will become familiar with in the near future doesn’t break him too much and he still maintains some of his innocence without becoming too angry like a lot of other brothers I know. One can only wait and see... Until next time, I keep the faith...

One love, One Life...


1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. Those who believe we come from a tolerant society are quite delusional; I've always thought that positive progression and tolerance would always be harder for Australian society, considering the roots from which this tree has sprung - how can we learn acceptance and tolerance of other cultures when the very foundations this country has been built on is decades of oppression and racial exclusion (see, stolen generation, removal of land from rightful owners, the white australia policy etc), this is why we still have an undercurrent of racism in this country. I am not indigenous, but my mother is an Asian immigrant and the kind of exclusion I have seen levelled against her throughout my youth and now as a young adult makes me sick to the stomach. If only it were a perfect world, hey? I sincerely hope your brother remains strong, and with a sister like you who has a lot of qualities and ideals to aspire to, I think he will be okay. Thanks for writing this, it was really touching and I think it's commendable that you speak the truth.