My mother was unable to look after me in my senior high school years in northern New South Wales and I relocated back to the Sunshine Coast to where my Nan Robyn lived and I graduated Year 12, the fourth person in my family to complete high school. Everyone was really proud of me and Year 12 was the best year of my life to date as I was an "A" Student.
Yet racism was never far away and in year 12, I learnt to laugh them off which annoyed those who taunted me. On the outside I was strong and laughing but on the inside I hurt very badly. But I wasn't angry any more. I was actually sad for them, they were ignorant as in my view they didn't know any better.
I actually met fellow students who did not realise their own grand parents came to Australia on boats (Migration from England Ireland) and that the Aboriginal people were the first and native peoples of Australia.
Still to this day I will go into Supermarkets where I will be followed by staff through every isle. Today as a wife, a step mum and now having lived on the Tweed Coast for four years, we have had occasions of racism, particularly when looking for housing. A number of real estate agents have been discriminating, even finding excuses to refuse me even before I have put pen to paper to apply.
Tell tale signs of racial slurs
Incidents that I recount here, one might consider apply to anyone, not because I am black, but its not necessarily the incident, rather the tones and the looks attached to what occurred which is the tell tale sign of the racial slur.
My son was born in 2010 via emergency c-section so that I could not move around like the mothers who gave birth naturally. One time I was in pain and Nullen was crying and I asked the nurse if she could hand him to me in order to feed him and in a nasty way and said: "I'm not picking him up, you get up and pick him up, he's yours".
I started crying and told her to leave the room and get another nurse to come in to me. I explained to her what took place and this nurse could not believe it. She was clueless as to why this occurred. C-Section is serious surgery as the days following I felt as though I had been hit by a bus. I needed help.
On another occasion my husband Mick and I were down by the river eating fish and chips in the car. We were enjoying a laugh and then the Police pulled up beside us and asked what we were doing and then asked to search our car. Someone had made a complaint about us eating fish and chips down by the river in our car suggesting it as suspicious behaviour.
Another time we were visiting my wider family at Harvey Bay and were pulled up by the Police on five different occasions the same day. It appeared to us to be for nothing. My church runs a playgroup and I go along off-and-on for some time now. I have seven children in my care. One is my biological child, three are step children, a nephew and two nieces. It was a Friday and I walked the children to play group.
The older step-children had only arrived two days previously and I had not the time to register them at school so I took them all to play group as we were regular attendees and I didn't see a problem that the older ones were of school age: 9, 8 and 5.
The playgroup is run by a friend but this friend was sick that day, and they got a friend of theirs to run it. I had never met this person but she opened up and didn't mind my family coming in. Then another lady came with her children with an accent (from a known 'former' racist nation) with twins. I'd met her before at the playgroup. All the kids were playing together. I left early as I was uncomfortable as I was left alone without anyone to have conversation with.
A week later my friend who usually runs the playgroup rang me to say there was a complaint that the older children were at playgroup and not at school. I was very upset at this as it would have been a different thing if the kids had been wagging school, but they had only just arrived in town. The woman who complained doesn't even attend the church as we do. There had been no fighting amongst all the children,
This woman who I see from time to time at the supermarket gives me a wide berth and what I call an evil 'racist' eye. I've seen it all before. There is a vibe that I find troubling and disturbing.
A recent hurt
One of the reasons I have detailed some of these incidents in my first article and again here, was an incident that only happened recently which illustrates this type of racism.
I met my friend Sarah for coffee recently as we hadn't seen each other for some time. We were catching up when she received a phone call. Sarah is asked to go to the Op Shop where she volunteers, to mind the shop for 40 minutes while the woman on duty ran some errands.
My friend, knowing I have a house full of little ones suggested I come along and check out the children's clothing. It was walking distance from the supermarket and with Sarah and Nullen in the stroller (with a muffin in his hand) we went to the Op Shop.
The woman at the shop had a little dog, which tries to get take Nullen's muffin, I shewed it away. This older woman, with a similar skin tone to me, told Sarah how well her son the Pastor was doing and although I tried to join in and be friendly, I was ignored. I didn't see anything in the shop I needed, and I heard her challenge Sarah that I don't attend the church associated with this particular Op Shop.
What happened next bewildered me. The little dog bit Nullen on his fingers and took the muffin, Nullen cried, I picked him up and then he did a toilet which leaked over my shirt. I asked Sarah to pass me the baby wipes and this woman doesn't look at me, but says to Sarah, "Tell her to go outside, she going to scare customers away."
She used words such as: "People like you", "Them people", "Your kind". I felt like crying, I did nothing to cause this verbal attack. All little ones have accidents: black, white, yellow, red. My friend Sarah said this woman gossips about everyone and slurs those she feels are beneath her, regardless of colour of their skin.
I wanted to ring her son, the Pastor of the church, but decided first to pray about this. I sometimes think it is weak to walk away and not confront meanness and racism. When my children come to me and complain about bully's and racists I have to tell them, as hard as it is, they must ignore it, or laugh at it, but always pray for them because they have not been taught any better than this.
God made me the colour I am. The Lord never said I was too dark. He made me this colour for a reason. I believe God does not look at the skin colour, rather what is in the heart and more specifically my heart.
Tisha Williams is an indigenous home maker and mother on the Gold Coast / Tweed. He husband Edward is an indigenous painter, training to be a carpenter and teaches their children his language and dream time stories which have parallels in the Bible.
Tisha Williams' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tisha-williams.html