Racist or realist?

This is a touchy topic. I expect some will disagree, that’s fine to do, but please keep your comments civil or they will simply not be approved.

Your typical "Sardine house"

Yesterday, myself and Felix’s father went to view the block of land we would potentially build our house on. Now, we are on a low budget, and it’s a small block on a “Sardine estate” as I like to call them. Even for this tiny block, the closest to the city we can afford is a town 40 mins away, at the very end of the train line.  Basically, there’s little to no choice if we want to get anything at all.

So here we are, brum brumming down in our car, full of optimism. Yes, it’s small, but we were assured by Homestart that it was a nice new suburb close to amenities and a primary school – sounds good enough for us! As we draw closer, we drive through Armadale, a town notorious for outbreaks of violence, petty crime and a high population of Aboriginal people. Sure enough, we drive through graffitied houses, bus stations buried with litter, and large groups of Aboriginals gathered outside of shops and parks drinking from paper bags.

Myself, Felix’s father, and of course Felix, are incredibly white. Me and Felix are both natural blondes, his father is a chestnut-brown, and we are all very pale skinned.We look to many as your stereotypical white Australian  family, in a work car which is a Triton (A ute with a cab on it).

A group of Aboriginals drinking

We felt uneasy driving through these sorts of scenes, with many of the Aboriginal groups making unfriendly gestures; be it flipping the bird, spitting on the path, or simply snarling. So we look for an alternative route to our new suburb, however unless we want to add another 20 mins to the drive and come from the south, there isn’t one. We pass a small piece of bushland and a railway line, and on the other side is our suburb, just as we expected it to look – Small, new, quiet. We hadn’t anticipated it being quite so close to Armadale. We drive around it a little, and yes, there is a little shop close by, a primary school, and some farm houses on the outskirts.  Its all rather nice.

Some Aboriginal people walking along the roadside, one spat at us as we drove past.

However, on our way back home (The same route we would have to drive every time we entered or exited our home) we again pass these collections of Aboriginal people, and again feel a little threatened and uneasy by the unwanted attention. And we begin thinking, do we really want this every day? Do we want to have this hostility at the local shop, do we want our son to eventually go to a school with this sort of locale? And the answer is simply no. I have no problem with races, but the atmosphere created by the sheer number of Aboriginals in this area who are generally very poor, compared to the white folk who are not so poor, just makes the place very unappealing. As such, we are looking to build in another area.

This raises some questions for me… How does this sort of attitude begin? And how can it stop? The reason the house prices are so cheap in that area is more than likely because many people don’t wan’t to buy there with it being so hostile, and that just leads to a bigger and bigger gap between the percentage of black/white, which I assume simply amplifies the attitude over time. However, many people who are looking for cheap houses are those like us who are starting families, they won’t want their children growing up next to a rough neighbourhood.

It’s all a bit of a pickle, isn’t it?


6 comments on “Racist or realist?

  1. I certainly understand your concern. I would not move there if I had a child and probably not at all. I am sure you know how Australia got it’s beginnings? England’s continental prison, of sorts. They sent the most notorious to Australia. Now, everything is so much different. Time changes things. Still . . .

    I live in the US and when the economy tanked so did many communities, even a large city or two. From one of those places, many people migrated to my city. Our Violence and crime has gone way up. It makes me nervous to live here now. So I do understand your situation. If I were moving, which I cannot afford to do, I would never move to where I am now.

    Why live in a violent, hated-filled area when there are other options? How would you explain to your child that you had choices and choose the violent, crime area just to save a few bucks?

    Do whatever you need to do to protect your child. That is always #1.

    • This is my main concern yes. I wouldn’t be keen on living there myself, but for my son I simply can’t consider it. Our only reason for second thinking it is that the place we are now was like that 5-10 years ago, and now it’s a fairly pleasant community (though people still cringe at the name)… We wonder whether in 5 years (When my little one goes to school) if the attitude will have changed.

      To your other point about people needing to undestand times have changed, I totally agree. We are all educated about the wrongs that many white people commited against the Aboriginals back then, but unfortunately, the same hostility that our ancestors were deserving of has been applied to us, who are of a totally different generation. It’s a shame that young aboriginals still see us as the enemy, and there is all this unneccesary anger.

  2. I would think that you could ask yourself “Is it that they are aboriginal or is it that they are poor?” Which is preferred racist or “classist” (probably not really a word but, I think you get the point.)

    • I don’t think it’s the fact they are poor; it’s more the way that they are in large groups, that they are openly hostile towards us, the street drinking… I’ve lived in fairly poor communities my whole life being low income myself but they have been poor white and african communities, this was the first time i’ve encountered this sort of uneasy feeling.

      • I don’t know you, of course, but, it sounds race would not be the issue if they were behaving more appropriately. Ok…so if they were a group of whites behaving the exact same way then would it be different? Would you be comfortable living there then? We notice race…everyone does…and anyone who says they don’t is most definitely lying. However, we don’t all have an issue with race when we notice it. So what they are aboriginal. The problem is what they are doing….I hope.

      • I have no personal experience of living in a white ghetto, but if they also include large groups of drinking, violent, hostile people then yes, i would certainly avoid that place as much as this.

        I think the amount of racism in Australian society is that Australia is very isolated from the outside world – news generally reports on Australian issues alone, and people don’t travel outside of the country so much as Europeans for example as it’s very expensive even for close destinations. Therefore, all generalisations are based on what we see here. There are both successful and unsuccessful white people, black people, asian people, indian people, and so on, but there is a huge imbalance when it comes to the native australians, you simply don’t see so many successful aboriginal people and so the general public assumes they are all similarly behaved to the ones you DO see.

        Therefore, as soon as you so much as mention the word “aboriginal” you are branded a racist – which is not at all how the word should be used. There are many people here who would call me racist for avoiding communities heavy in poor, aboriginal people, assuming I base it on colour, not on behaviour… this is a sad fact.

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