Behind this smile I think it’s ok to be different but we should all be treated the same.
People say “don’t get upset, they’re not being racist at you,” they think they have learnt what racism is, but that’s not how it works; there are so many cultures in the 21st century, but I am offended because they‘re attacking my culture. It’s not just about me, it’s bigger than me.
People don’t understand, even when they are in the middle of it, the feeling, the trauma it causes. People call you half-caste, it was always about how much Aboriginal blood runs through your veins, but now it’s not about that, you either identify as an Aboriginal or not; this means a lot for people, my daughter says, ‘just because I identify, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my white father.”
I have a wonderful husband, a white Australian who married me in the ‘70’s. My husband often comments about things someone says and tries to help me, but I’ve had it all my life. It was always bugging me, I would get upset, but I realised there were things in me that were hurting and robbing me of my peace. I decided I don’t have to be like that anymore. The words, the rejection, the name calling, nasty things that happened, deeply embedded in me; the shame and all of that, those things don’t have to rob me of my dignity.
I have an inner peace now, I spoke out, and I don’t have to be ashamed anymore. The more I speak out, the more I am healing that wound. I don’t want anyone to ever endure that shame and I believe it heals with others; it’s always about others and what you can do for others. I wasn’t prepared for life, but there doesn’t have to be that horrible thing racism. I wish we could not see any difference, and look at life through the eyes of a child. We lose that innocence and acceptance of others. We begin with good, and we should grow with good. It’s about breaking down those barriers, but I couldn’t do any of it, unless I pulled them down in my own life. One thing leads to another, everything is connected and I have learnt that it’s ok to different, but I’d like to be treated the same. You can’t change who you are.
You can see Darleen's image at Laverton Community Hub, Altona Meadows Library and Williamstown Library