I can’t change who I was, I can only be better tomorrow. (1)Reading Time: 3 minutes
Your upbringing doesn’t define you, and just because you were somebody in the past, doesn’t mean you can’t be somebody else tomorrow.
But isn’t that what racism is based on? Ethnicity A were well known for bad thing A so everybody from ethnicity A must do the bad thing A. But what about you? What about your past?
I know plenty of people (that ol’ chestnut) who have plenty of questionable things happen in their past. Things they are not proud of, things they don’t really want to let people know.
How do I know this? Well, I’m from Western Australia and was brought up in a (at the time) pretty backwards part of the city. We didn’t like folks with a different shade of skin or who came here to ‘steal our jobs’. That was an interesting line, ‘steal our jobs’. Well, I was in Primary School, and we didn’t have jobs to steal.
That shit came from the parents. Not my parents. But plenty of people in this particular area shared the racist anti-anything different to us view. That rubs off on the kids, so the kids automatically have the same opinions as the adults.
Not to say that a primary school kid had a lot to say about race relations. We were kids, we are at the point where we were like sponges, ready to take in whatever it was the people around us told us.
Plus, we didn’t want to feel left out, or different. So we copied our friends, or at least the people we wanted to be friends with, who we thought were cool.
So that’s how it starts. Disliking other ethnicities because you want to fit in and because you’re a sponge. Remember, racism, discrimination, that shit is something you learn, not something in your genetics.
Living in Western Australia is an interesting thing, at least from my experience as someone who was born there. Not everyone shares my view but, this is my own experience.
The bogan class is the upper middle class. They tend to be the ones with the money because, quite simply, WA is a mining state that pays staggering amounts of money for workers.
WA ended up with this class of people who, well, were basically unskilled labour or tradies, who now earn more than doctors or highly educated positions. I’m not going to debate the merits or who deserves what, but you ended up with a class of people who fit fairly well in to this demographic:
- Uneducated (as in probably completed high school, but not much else) or hold trades
- Traditionally worked jobs which paid minimum or just above
- Limited financial sense
- Are bogans. Which have a tenancy to lean towards the racist side of politics.
Because of the money, it attracts people from interstate. South Australia, QLD, NT, etc. So you end up with lots of them.
And you get all the shit associated with this sort of population.
So what happens to the primary school students, is they look at these people, earnings 6 figures without having to make a real effort, as role models. Warts and all, this is the behaviour that’s emulated.
For me, there was no desire to work on the mines. It is too hostile, too far away and by the time I was 14, I was already aware of my own sexuality, which on a minesite, isn’t something you want out in the open.
But you still emulate the behaviour, like a senseless idiot, you judge people by their skin, where they came from, etc. Not by who they are inside.
This becomes the norm, years of doing it, you just get used to it thinking there’s nothing wrong with your attitude, because everyone else has that attitude. But being gay and being racist isn’t hugely compatible.
Because being gay, you were being judged on something you really had no control over. Fair enough, being gay isn’t visible, unless you want it to be.
But you judge people because of the way they were born.
This isn’t some epiphany though. Where suddenly I realised that me judging people on their skin colour was the same as people judging me because I enjoy dick.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint where exactly it came unstuck for me. Where I decided I needed to be someone else. There were a lot of things I realised after I left high school and after I left my first major job.
But I think the major part for me is that I had behaviours that I was being judged for, and where people would look at me and not bother to get to know me because of a hardened armour that I wore. It isn’t exactly the same as race, but you are being judged for something that shouldn’t matter.
More in part 2…