Through My Father’s Lens

Bigotry stared me in the face last night.

 

Bigotry cloaked in the form of an elderly man of substance; a respected leader within his community. The attire of a gentleman and a friendly, engaging demeanour to match. A pillar of society seated at a formal function, to my immediate right. He reminded me of my late father.

 

An unwelcome surprise lay in store. A clear marker that similarities with the man I have missed so much on this Father’s Day, were finite.

 

It all started with footy talk. Footy talk is a time-honoured conversation ice-breaker, in the search for common interest and engagement. I’m always proud to declare my lifelong allegiance to the red and the white. Last night’s declaration represented the “on” button for the “man of substance” to enlighten me as to his views on a topic I thought long ago dealt with – Adam Goodes and crowd booing. This not being a conversational path I wanted to tread and sensing a serious mis-match of opinion, I warned him of the possibility of me holding an opposing view. The retention of polite interpersonal harmony through a simple switch of topic was readily available to him. Alas, the metaphorical “pause” button remained un-pushed.

 

His recital and my rebuttal; me incredulous that the vim and venom of the 2015 national discussion still lived in his rant. A challenge to my sense that via the grime of that period the psyche of a nation had been moved to a better place, from the elegant man in the gentlemanly attire.

 

Entrenched bigotry finds its way to the surface readily. Goodes the footballer as an upstart symbol of a race that “lacks gratitude for all that which has been done for them”. All the old chestnuts spewing forth from the man of substance’s otherwise cultured mouth: “bludgers, crooks, always on the take. Half-castes and near-white fella’s seeking handouts”. Stolen generation?…”if we did that, it was only for their own good”. Terra nullius. Eddie who?

 

I lay no claim to moral superiority or unfailing empathy and I recognize the occasional disconnection between my moral compass and my demeanor. Inherent in the human condition is a capacity to drift into places of which we are not proud. But this exchange has rocked me to my core.  I’m deflated. I thought “respectable Australia” was different!

 

The tabloid faces of racism and bigotry are often young, misguided and publicly demonstrative. Or alternatively, low of social standing and uneducated. But packaged here in the gentile, educated, senior citizen that is the man of substance I witnessed entrenched ugliness of attitude, reinforced with self-righteousness. An inferred view that age provides a platform of un-challengeable legitimacy, when it comes to the despatch of ignorant bile. A complete unpreparedness to walk with an enlightened, contemporary step. How widespread can this be?

 

Dad, you have been deep in my thoughts today; Fathers Day. Thanks for your open-mindedness, acceptance and empathy. Thanks too for equipping me with the capacity to discern bigotry and the courage to challenge it. You also taught me that footy isn’t important in the greater scheme of things and to reinforce the point didn’t steer me from my red and white path, to your favoured road paved with brown and gold.

 

Ironically though, it is a footy reference point – Adam Goodes 2015 – that has further aligned me with your roadmap to decency. Footy can matter.

About chris bracher

Known to stare longingly down Clarendon St still wondering how his red and white heroes ever left him, Chris Bracher's pining for his relocated team has been somewhat appeased by recent Bloods glory....but the pain never truly goes away!

Comments

  1. Arabella douglas says:

    That you for the piece it does articulate how white Australia is challenged in truly seeing Black Aust as equals. It always seems safe to discuss sport in lieu of lifes harder politics, policy or responsibility. This is a reminder of why whther we know it, like it or accept it – are more comfortable with pretending than growing through the discomfort.

    Owning racist notions is the beginning of unlearning racism. That you for being an agent of change as I know you did not need to step up and many fail to have that courage

  2. Seems to me that a lot of the bigots have never met an aborigine. Rather they rely on their own stereotypical view which is fueled by ignorance and an unwillingness to entertain the possibility that they might be wrong

  3. Daniel Flesch says:

    Is there any greater example of profound ignorant bigotry than saying the Indigenous ” “lacks gratitude for all that which has been done for them” ?
    I inwardly gasped when i read that . Just what has been done for them compared to what has been done TO them ? Don’t know how you took that (and the rest of it ) calmly , Chris. Also wonder what team he barracks for , since every one of them has Indigenous players . Bigotry has no logic , though , of course.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Well played Chris, well played.

  5. It is more widespread than you would imagine, Chris.

  6. bernard whimpress says:

    Well said, obviously a gentleman in appearance only.

  7. I am shaking my head as I read, having just finished Henry Reynolds’ book “Why Weren’t We Told?”

    And what a nasty jolt of reality, the discrepancy between the package and the contents. Ignorance is everywhere. Thank goodness for your father, as you obviously do.

    And yes, Go Bloods!

  8. Keiran Croker says:

    Thanks Chris. Such thinking sadly is out there. And thanks for making a stand. It needs to be challenged.

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