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Story and Painting by Garry Purchase
This is a piece about pride and empowerment. Pride in yourself. Pride in your heritage. Pride in the struggle. Pride in survival.
When I was a kid in the 80's.I was in fistfights nearly every day due to bullying and being racially harassed by other kids. I've been called every name under the sun, punched, kicked and spat at.
Being a little Koori kid back then was bloody hard and I can only imagine what it was like in the 1940's and 50's for my mother. My father who was white, was treated horribly by his own family for being with mum. I don't think his parents ever really accepted her or the social stigma attached to dating an Aboriginal. He was pretty much shunned by them for it.
My first real taste of racism was a harsh one and still burns in me now. I remember back when I was about six or seven, we were on holiday to Queensland. It was a hot day and we stopped at a public pool. Dad walked in and when mum and I went to follow, the guy behind the gate refused us entry and point blank told us he didn't let "our kind" in and that we should "piss off somewhere else". He was openly racist and was bloody proud of it. I just started crying. It took my dad, who was a big and powerfully built bloke to have a few words of reason with him to let us in.
That memory will stick with me until the day I die.
I was bloody angry for a long, long time.
I couldn't understand why it happened. Did I do something wrong? Was I not dressed right? Just why? It made no sense that someone could be treated like that purely based on skin colour. It hurt bad.
I look at my kids now. My two youngest boys are around the same age as I was then. Back then it was like carrying an unwanted burden. I just wanted to fit in and be normal. Times have changed a lot since those days and I want them to be proud of their heritage, be proud of their Aboriginality and find inner strength and power in it. I want them to embrace their culture and share it with others. They are taught to accept everyone regardless of where they're from. I don't want them to EVER be made to feel as I did. Cultural ignorance and racism is unacceptable. Stand up against racism and be proud.
© Garry Purchase 2016