Last night I took to Twitter expressing my concern at safety for people attending protests, but also my joy at the public awareness of black rights, with references to highly emotional musical performances. I also followed up with this, which I think, without wanting to cause hurt to anyone, is a story worth telling.
Decorum restored after my “wild” expression of joy “in public”, I will state that once, many years ago, I equally “lost my temper” in public in response to a racist comment made on a uni internet discussion board. I was angry at the ignorance of intnl students (not Chinese) attending the uni of which Gough Whitlam was Chancellor, plus Australians who went along with it. It was an incidental comment about Australian Aboriginals and what I noticed was the casualness with which it was made and the obliviousness to how offensive it was. I was also annoyed that a uni discussion site was being used for things other than course-related purposes, not the least of which by people who had no idea of the significance of the institution they were attending. I posted that the comment was inappropriate and to stop using the site as a “bitching board”. The response to that was heartening. Fellow countrymen of the people who posted it agreed with me, even if those who did it made the “free speech” defence and claimed they were just quoting “poetry”. I considered that the people who wrote that “poetry” did so a long time ago and themselves would now probably be ashamed of it. They could not get away with it today, in whatever context it was intended, and there was no critical thinking behind its regurgitation in that instance. I regretted losing my temper in public, but not the reason. It did, however raise a significant point about the latent racism that pervaded in culture and language, barely recognised as such by people inured to it. I don’t think we can blame everyone for that, just make sure awareness of it is raised and make the appropriate changes.