I should really give up on catching late night trains, I haven’t had much luck with them lately. But tonight, tonight I got really peed off. It doesn’t help that this shitty guy came along after what I would describe as one of my best weekends this year. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were completely dedicated to damn good jazz. This weekend I really embraced the jazz festival and went to five gigs as well as a masterclass. Jazz has been my life this weekend, I basically have the stuff oozing out of my veins. I managed to score an awesome volunteer gig for the Melbourne Jazz Festival of Artist minding and got to experience a side of show biz few are privy to. It wasn’t all glamour and lights, some moments were quiet, like when I had lunch with a famous double bass player in a small Melbourne eatery, or when I joked around backstage with a famous drummer and pianist who both went on stage moments later and wowed a 1000 strong audience. It was bliss. And saying something cliche like ‘it changed my life’ doesn’t seem like such a stretch.
Tonight I went to another great concert that featured several jazz greats and then I had a tequila shot and two beers down a nondescript alley way with a friends band member…who I then made earnest promises to see the next weekend. All of that was GREAT. So when I was on the train home and this ‘Australian’ guy decided to pull out the race card, I just didn’t feel like putting up with it. He started digging into a guy on the train, telling him he should take his turban off and saying shit like ‘I grew up in Australia’. It pissed me off big time, so I decided, against the previous advice of every sane person I know, to get involved. ‘Give him a break’ I said, the drunk guy just said something like ‘yeah, yeah’ and continued on with his rant… ‘I grew up in Australia’ he shouted over his shitty techno music, ‘this station you’re getting off at, I went to school here….I know what’s going on’. I smiled at the guy in the turban and then turned to the Australian guy, ‘really?’ I said, ‘I also grew up in Australia, and I know what’s going on too’. I think this surprised him a little because then he decided to change tact and crack onto me. ‘Yeah, you’re a good girl, I like your scarf, red is my favourite colour’. I nodded acknowledgement and turned away at this point. It made me angry, in that silent foreboding way. Firstly, he was a racist a-hole and secondly, he had called me a ‘good girl’, which seems like another demeaning label to me.
I’m so over people like this, they assume the colour of their skin is a passport to justified racial abuse. At one point he also said something like, ‘don’t worry, it’s just Australian humour’ so of course I retorted with, ‘yeah, well I’m bloody sick of Australian humour, I have to cop this shit all the time’… after that he quietened down and figured that it was time to bust out the family album on his phone and give me a run down of his history. ‘Here’s my dad, on our houseboat’ he’d tell me, ‘here’s my nephew, in the backyard’…every little thing he had to say, which he obviously felt identified him as Australian I could back up with my own authenticity. ‘Oh yeah’, I lightly replied, ‘I like to go up to Lake Eildon too and go kneeboarding in summer’, or ‘oh yeah, it’s great that he’s growing up in the country and can have a backyard to play in’. I think this guy was genuinely stumped, when he finally went to get off the train he muttered something else about me being a good girl, a keeper….and I muttered something about giving people who look different to him a break…I think we met somewhere halfway, but that’s not to say that I understand his view point at all. It doesn’t even make sense. It was a long train trip and I had the chance to ask him what he thought was going on and why he had been giving that guy a hard time. The shittiest thing was that he couldn’t even give me an answer, he didn’t have one and that is the reality of racism.
So this post is kind of dedicated to Rosa Parks, the woman who fought against absolutely illogical beliefs because she was tired of giving in…I’m tired too.
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”. – Rosa Parks.