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The Past | The Previous

So, I went to the Anti-Racism Rally because, y'know, racism is bad. Simple, isn't it? There was about a thousand people and there should have been more, I thought, as did S., who was with me. But a lot of people figured something violent would happen (my sister, for example, spent a good half hour trying to explain this to me) and I can't fault people who're worried about their safety. It would have been nice to have a huge showing, however, to outnumber the fuckers from the weekend before.

Anyhow, below is an image from the rally, and after that, an excerpt from A Year in the City. You'll see why I've put it up when you read it.






Finally, Mal said, Look, this guy, he isn't rationale, man. He's a fucker. He's more than a fucker, he fucking fucker. I got this one story. It's like, my Fucking Fucker Story, okay? After you hear this, you still want to go out with Pape tonight, well, you've either got the jones something serious, or you're just stupid.

Ki laughed. Sure, lets hear it.

-Happened when me and Tim were in year ten together. We were in the same bottom classes, you know? It wasn't that we were stupid, it was just that we didn't care. Anyway, about half way through the year, our regular science teacher leaves, and she's replaced with this Indian guy. I forget his name. We had a couple for him-you know the type-but his real name I've forgotten. Might've been that I didn't even know it proper. The thing about this guy was, you see, that he didn't speak very good English.

-In our class, that just meant you didn't do the work. Fuck it. Far as I was concerned, it was great. Anyhow, year ten, it's school certificate time, and Tim's Old Man starts to develop this interest in his grades. Suddenly Tim has a tutor on the weekends and is being forced to do his homework and I'm not seeing him much on the beaches where we surf. He tells me it's because his Old Man has this pressure on him to succeed. He wasn't dealing with it real well.

-At any rate, the half yearly exams happen. It's the usual shit from the teachers: if you didn't do well here, then take it as a sign and put in more effort. They say it after every fucking exam, so I fail to see how it was suppose to motivate me when I failed half of my exams. Not that my Olds cared much. Not that I cared much. But Tim does care now, and his Old Man chucks this huge shit when he comes back with this results. It took Tim a couple of days to come back to school after taking them to him, but when he did he had these bruises along his back. Big ugly black things. He said it was a surf accident, but no one believed it.

-Anyone do anything? Ki asked.

-Shit, man, we didn't even talk about it. The sound of drinking again. I mean, what do you say to another guy? Hey, heard your Old Man beat the shit out of you. Fucking shame. Lets cry a bit and go and tell a teacher?

-Point.

-A girl gets that easier, I reckon. If I got to be beaten by my folks, I want to be girl. Anyhow: Tim starts getting frustrated in classes. You can see it in him. It worse in the classes where he's got a foreign teacher, and the worse is science. The weeks after he got back, all he'd talk about was how fucking awful it was, what a stupid Indian cunt the guy was, and so on. After a while of that, I was telling him to calm down, but he didn't. He just kept going. On and on about how this guy was ruining his future, taking away a choice he had been born with, about how he didn't know his place.

-Then, about a month later, Tim fucking explodes in class. Goes apeshit. One moment he's sitting next to me and then the next moment he's standing up, screaming at the guy. It's at the top of his lungs: this angry, venomous racist shit just pouring out of his throat. If Tim's head had turned round like that girl in Poltergeist that would've explained what was going on. That would have made sense. But it didn't, and soon the Principal and everyone was in the room and they took Tim away.

-I thought you said this was going to be about his Old Man? Ki asked, flicking Heart of Darkness out of his way before sitting on the bed. So far this is all about Tim having a mental breakdown.

-Who do you think caused that? There was the sound of a faucet pouring water into a glass, then splashed back out. But I'm not done, am I? I'm getting to his Old Man. See, they take Tim out and over to the Principal's office, and the dude just breaks down. I know this because five minutes later I'm called to the office over the PA, and I'm taken to him in sick bay, where he is crying. Since I'm his friend they reckon I'll know how to help him, but all I can do is just stand there and say shit like, it's not so bad, it's okay. When that doesn't work, the Principal brings in the science teacher, thinking that maybe if they have some sort of heart to heart then everything will be okay, but Tim doesn't say anything.

-And it's while we're all standing there that his Old Man walks in.

-He's pissed. You can see it straight away. He's been called in from work because his son has done something wrong and he walks into the sick bay and finds me, the Principal, and the Indian science teacher around his crying son. The look on his face was like… Jesus, it was just hate. There was nothing but hate there. His face had turned red like it had been filled up with blood and that at any moment it was going to explode and spray everywhere.

-Then, without a fucking word, he punches the science teacher in the head.

-What? Ki said, shocked despite himself.

-Punched the guy in the fucking head.

-You're shitting me?

-No fucking way, Mal said. I was there. He just punched the guy in the head. The science teacher goes down and then the dude starts kicking him on the ground, beating the living shit out of him. The crazy fuck still hasn't said a word throughout this entire thing, and the Principal is trying to pull him off, but he's this old guy and he can't stop him. He starts screaming for help, but by the time they've gotten there, Tim's Old Man has started in the Principal, shoving him round and demanding to know why he'd let a guy like that teach his son.

-What was Tim doing?

-Just lying there, like he was afraid to move. I didn't blame him. I was afraid to move.

-What happened then? Ki asked.

-Well, Tim's Old Man took him out of the school. He ended up at this Catholic School. The school had some charges bought up against him, but I never learned how it went. Tim just sort of drifted away afterwards, y'know? I'd see him surfing and we stayed friends, but it was distant. I'd see his sister round at cinemas and film festivals more than I would see him out surfing.

-That's all pretty fucked up.

-Like I said. That's why you ought to skip this date thing, man. It's bad news for Pape. Bad news for you.


--From 'Autumn (The Fond Farewell)', A Year in the City.

Comments

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ex_benpayne119
Dec. 18th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yup. That sounds just about right. Parents have got a lot to answer for. When you hear racist shit dribbling out a kid's mouth you don't have to look too far to find the cause.

benpeek
Dec. 18th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
i don't think you can blame all parents, but certainly, racism, like pretty much everything else, comes from the environment you're in. you don't just wake up one day and decide to hate someone for a different skin colour.
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benpeek
Dec. 19th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
there's heaps you can do, lily.

mostly it comes with working against the stereotypes that are presented to society. actively speaking out against it. for me, i do it through my writing--it's one of my goals, to work against these portrayals, to have characters of every race in every situation.

you begin there. then you start moving out. doing things. a lot of it is just not allowing negative portrayals to go unchallenged, but it's also about being aware of what your own whiteness brings to it. you and i aren't raceless. we have race too, and people seem to forget that.
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