//
you're reading...
Big Issue Australia Magazine

Murphy’s Law 05 Pride Without Prejudice


Murphy listened with intent, as the man on stage spoke. The topic was Aboriginal Education, and the speaker knew his stuff first hand. Murphy listened, and took notes. He had much to learn here, and he didn’t want to miss a thing. He reflected what he knew of this man’s life, and the struggles he had overcome.

Kim had been an orphan. He had been the last of fourteen children his English parents had chosen to adopt. All his brothers and sisters were Aboriginal as well, from different families. Growing up, the parents encouraged him to explore his own culture, as well as embrace life in the wider community. That had also meant embracing the reality of racism.

The bus driver had refused to allow Kim and his siblings to board the bus. Too many blacks were bound to cause trouble, he had told Kim. One of the other kids left the bus, and knocked him to the ground. He had gone home in tears, and the bus driver had laughed. They had all laughed. After that, he had ridden his pushbike the ten miles to school every day.

His brothers and sisters had the same problem, so he took some comfort knowing it wasn’t just him. They rode their bikes together into town, figuring there was safety in numbers. The town saw it as a gang of blacks out to cause trouble. Kim and his siblings just wanted to go to school.

Murphy had met Kim when they worked together on a remote Aboriginal community in Central Queensland. Kim brought six years high school teaching experience with him. Murphy had never taught in a high school before, and found it difficult. He found the culture shock hard to deal with as well.

Murphy recalled the first week that they had started working at the school:

It was eighty kilometres from the nearest town, and two hundred kilometres from the nearest city. The community had almost two thousand people in it, and only twenty-three non-Aboriginals, including Murphy.

Kim and Murphy had formed an almost instant friendship. Both recognised their need for support in dealing with the hard task ahead of them over the next year. They acknowledged each other’s professional skills, and the benefits they could offer to each other.

Kim seemed introverted when they first met. Even in his late thirties, at the beginning of the new millennium, he still found it hard to adjust to the prejudices that exist in society. His previous school, in western New South Wales, had been a bad experience for him. He believed his skin colour to be the reason for his non-acceptance by the other teachers there. He had decided to come to the community, where he felt better able to fit in.

Murphy soon learnt that Kim had a playful side. At the end of the first week, he had suggested that Murphy accompany him, and a few of the other staff, to the local social club. A few beers after work sounded good, so Murphy had agreed. As they walked into the crowded brick shed, the other three, including Kim, walked off in three different directions.

Taken aback, he realised they were having a bit of fun with him. It dawned on him that he was the only white man in the building. It also became obvious that he was the focus of attention from everyone there. He cast a quick look at each of his three workmates, and knew they were testing him. They all wore wide grins, and watched with interest to see what he would do.

He smiled, appreciating the practical joke they were playing on him. He walked without changing pace to the bar, and ordered his drink. He moved to the end of the bar, and sipped quietly on the beer. A man he’d never met before walked up to him. This man appeared extremely drunk, and spoke to Murphy in a loud and aggressive slur.

“This pub’s not for white men,” he said. For the first time, Murphy felt a little alarm. He saw that everyone had gone quiet, and were all looking at him. He felt scared, but tried to keep a calm appearance.

“I’m sorry. I just came down for a few beers after work with some friends,” he said. The drunk man seemed angrier. He leaned in close to Murphy and spoke into his face.

“You’ll be even sorrier when I finish with you,” he said. Murphy felt fear surge through him, and recognised the potential danger he faced. If this crowd turned on him, he was dead. Or so he thought. Kim and the other two came back to Murphy’s side. Kim spoke to the drunk man.

“It’s OK, Campbell. He’s passed the test,” Kim said.

Campbell laughed, and put his arm around Murphy’s shoulders.

“It’s OK, brother. I’m not really drunk,” he said, ‘We was just havin’ a bit of a lend of ya.”

After that, Kim had taken him around to meet the people in the club. Murphy felt relief at the friendliness they showed, and the appreciation they had for the teachers trying to help their kids. It was the first of many such tricks that Kim had played on him. All of them had an underlying lesson.

Murphy came back to the present, and perused his notes. He had learnt a lot from Kim during that year. He had learnt a lot about Australian Indigenous cultures. Kim had taken him to community functions, where he had learnt a lot about the problems facing Aboriginal people.

Few people knew the special achievements Kim had made. He had overcome the racism of his youth. He had completed a Diploma in Agriculture. Later, he had become the first Indigenous Australian to complete a full degree overseas, studying education through an Australian university in Fiji. Now, ten years later, he was sharing his experiences with others, who recognised his expertise.

Murphy never forgot that first lesson in the social club, where he had received a small taste of the fears that many indigenous people go through every day. He had seen Kim was the guest speaker at this seminar, and accepted the invitation.

Kim finished speaking, and came over to him.

“A few of us are going for a beer at a pub over on the west side,” he said. “Meet you there about five?” Murphy wondered what he had up his sleeve this time, and accepted. He was always happy to catch up with Kim. They shook hands, and he walked away smiling.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law 05 Pride Without Prejudice

  1. Hey Chris,

    Maybe this Murphy guy goes by the initials CH?

    Posted by Kit Tennis | February 29, 2012, 09:35
    • Murphy’s not that important. It’s the people he comes in contact with, that overcome adversity, that are interesting. And the people in the stories are based on real people.

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 29, 2012, 09:47
      • Whoever they are, it’s a great story of developing cross-cultural trust and friendship. I’ll be sending people to it.

        k

        Posted by Kit Tennis | February 29, 2012, 10:20

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 17,663 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

The Chinese military has intensified its drone incursions into the skies above Taiwan with almost daily flights of combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) TB-001 drone was spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the island and China’s […]

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday that disengagement along a disputed border area with China will be completed by Sept. 12. Both countries began disengaging from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area in the western Himalayas on Thursday, over two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties. The disengagement comes ahead of a meeting […]

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

Two electrifying moves in recent weeks have the potential to ignite electric vehicle demand in the United States. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, expanding federal tax rebates for EV purchases. Then California approved rules to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The Inflation Reduction Act extends the Obama-era EV tax […]

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations. Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by […]

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen was once again in the headlines when President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute this week to the soldiers and civilians who “operated in solidarity and safeguarded Taiwan” 64 years ago. On Aug. 23, 1958 mainland Chinese troops attacked Kinmen in a key battle that marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan […]

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

The father of communism, Karl Marx, once famously said — “We have no compassion, and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror”. This statement summarises how terrorism and communism go hand in hand. Maoist China alone destroyed between 44.5 to 72 million lives. During […]

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

China is attempting to establish a “new normal” across the Taiwan Strait, eroding self-ruled Taiwan’s territorial control and increasing the threat of a strike with each military sortie, officials and analysts say. Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the 110-mile (180-kilometer) wide stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China — and the […]

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

A great fire destroyed Rome for six days in the summer of AD 64. Famous Roman historian of that time, Tacitus, recorded that 70 percent of the city was destroyed and half of the city’s residents were displaced. Roman ruler Nero was accused of being indifferent, ineffective, and careless. The end result of this neglect […]

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

Once China achieves its professed goal of establishing control over Taiwan, a process of “re-education” of the island’s population would follow, according to China’s Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. The ambassador was speaking on French television channel BFM TV on Wednesday night, when he said a majority of the Taiwanese population actually wanted to be […]

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s present state confirms the famous statement: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Sri Lankans have been repeating the mistakes of choosing the politicians Rajapaksas again and again. It is confirmed that there were unaccounted payments that the Chinese were liberal with during project negotiations with the island nation. They were paid […]

%d bloggers like this: