So I need to get something off my chest…
Imagine a spontaneous road trip with your girlfriends to a small town in Australia where you have perfectly normal racist-free experience. Now that would be a ground breaking story for the ages. Well a few girlfriends and I had a spontaneous trip to a small town named Orange to visit a friend that resides there. Whilst this town is picturesque and deceptively visitor friendly, we encountered our share of racial discriminatory moments. Now before the ‘racism doesn’t exist’ police criticize and declare this post as a ‘fault finder’ or dismissively state ‘but you’re just looking for a story by misinterpreting words and gestures’, I do have 3 lovely witnesses of my own. These beautiful dark skinned women I am proud to call friends are all too familiar with this concept of racism and can definitely attest that the lovely old town of Orange was no different with its overt discrimination.
Recounting the events in a chronological order will clearly paint the picture for you guys. We arrived on a lovely starry autumn night where I could’ve sworn it was at least 0 degrees (I hate the cold!). On arrival, we had an amazing night catching up, planning and anticipating an exciting day ahead. The next day was eventful, we visited Orange hospital (go figure that health professionals will do this on their days off) where our racial experiences began. Now I am an eccentric person who loves to experiment with hair styles and colours so I am used to the usual glance/ compliment or two. However there is a difference between an admiration glance and a ‘oh I have never seen a group of dark skinned people so let me creepily stare at them until they stare me down’ glance. As you can tell by now, the latter glance followed us through the hallways of the hospital. For a moderately racially diverse town, the amount of stares we received were enough to last a lifetime.
The hospital was just the beginning but we had a moment of slight relief when we decided to have a driving tour of Orange to inadvertently avoid being spectacles. Even our safe haven, the car, couldn’t shield us from the stares. Orange had become the new black for some of these civilians. We decided to peruse jewelry in a popular jewelry shop. And boy were we in for a treat. Not only was the customer service from some of the attendance shockingly poor, there was an apparent condescending atmosphere evidenced by the attendees ignoring our requests to view potential products before purchase. Once a few pleasant but assertive words were exchanged, purchases finalised, we departed yet another common experience all too familiar to dark skinned people. So why did we make purchases in the face of blatant racial discrimination? To prove a point. To dispel the notion that dark skinned people are plagued with poverty from the minds of the ignorant. Planting a positive ‘seed’ or’image’ of dark skinned people will hopefully enable these jewelers to treat the next dark skinned customer with respect and dignity.
Fast forward and combine the plethora of racial discriminatory experiences over the 3 days during:
-Dinner; where constant stares and poor customer service ensued,
-Shopping trips; where elderly Caucasian men made it a mission to approach us and tell us their perceived hilarious yet racist jokes and
-Wandering the botanical gardens of Orange; where children were pointing at us with their parents piercing stares following our every move,
That my friends, condenses but sums up a 3 day spontaneous trip of a group of strong, independent and proud dark skinned women.
Lessons learnt from this trip were: to continue to develop that resilience that our ancestors seemingly ingrained in our DNA, dispel and assertively educate the perpetrators of racial discrimination that in no way, shape or form are racist jokes remotely funny, de-brief about these events with your girlfriends, family or whoever will listen and understand your experiences and to continue promoting self love amongst the dark skinned community. Most importantly, not all the members of the Orange community were backward in their interactions with us. In fact at least 50% of our interactions were positive which made the experience the more enjoyable because it reminds us that a world with no racial discrimination or prejudice is attainable.