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.


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.


        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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 15,050 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

  • RT @CraigHill01: As Grace Tame's time as Australian of the Year draws to an end, I can honestly say she has been the most worthy and active… 2 hours ago
  • RT @DailyTelegraph0: Barnaby Joyce expresses commitment by proposing to Vicki Campion: "Marriage is for life - or until you met someone you… 7 hours ago
  • RT @DarrenChesterMP: Listen to the experts and ignore George Christensen. If you have any concerns about COVID vaccines for you or your fam… 19 hours ago
  • As Grace Tame's time as Australian of the Year draws to an end, I can honestly say she has been the most worthy and… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 1 day ago
  • RT @TamePunk: With only a week to go ‘til I’m washed-up, I’d just like to thank you all for your support this past year. Although I didn’… 1 day ago

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

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

China is illegal. The US Department of State even says so. France even reports as such. This won’t exactly improve friendly relations across the Pacific. It’s actually a much larger step to an all out conflict. Just over a year ago, November 2020, Western allies declared that China’s 1984 treaty with Britain, the basis for […]

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

Grey zone is not a fixed concept but a hypothetical place between peace and war. While I was writing this article, a never heard of development was taking place in the Indian state of Punjab. The Indian Prime Minister was stuck on a bridge for 20 minutes since the highway was blocked by the protesters. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Lithuania has become the “Taiwan of Europe”. Since WWII, Americans never again struggled with the concept that a problem abroad is a problem at home. This is how we Americans can vote to interfere around the world that we know so little about. We think every squeal from another continent indicates a personal assault on […]

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Chinese officials have promised that the 2022 Winter Olympics — to be held Feb. 4 to 20 and followed by the Paralympics March 4-13 — will be a “safe, streamlined and splendid” global event. But that won’t be easy. With less than four weeks to go, China is struggling to enforce its strict zero-covid policy […]

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

If we thought 2019 and 2020 presented uncertainties then 2022 is here to surprise all of us. It could be remembered as one of the most complex, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous years in the recent past. COVID-19, oil crossing $100/barrel, Iran-US nuclear talks, Iran-Israel tension, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cryptocurrency, and militarization of outer […]

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan signed on Thursday a new security treaty with Australia, a fellow middle power that is similarly aligning against an increasingly assertive China. The blandly-branded Reciprocal Access Agreement, which was signed virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2014, when […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Taiwan is on the rise. With chip shortages, stock is booming. You know how graphics cards are astronomically high? A lot of that money is going into Taiwan. Meanwhile, China found an excuse to order a real estate developer to demolish 39 freshly, new-built “luxury apartments”—something about the building permit being illegal and violated zoning. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Japan is on the scene in the Pacific. While Japanese athletes will attend the Olympics, Japanese officials will not. China doesn’t want Japan to “politicize” the games. But, consider 2008, the one-hour opening ceremony about nothing but China’s history, with President Xi marching in to a one-world dream at the end. For Beijing, hosting the […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

The US is hitting China hard over treatment of Uyghurs. Nearly all imports from Xinjiang will be banned. At the same time, the US bolsters the call to bolster Taiwan’s military defense. However, Taiwan has the seeds of the same tyranny; it just doesn’t materialize into anything alarming because Taiwan remains small. The most obvious […]

When India goes to war with China 

When India goes to war with China 

It is an open secret that China challenges everything India sets its eyes on, be it cooperation with Quad partners (the United States, Australia, Japan), international organizations like United Nations, WHO, or designating a terrorist organization. India, a Quad member and a close ally of the United States, has become the biggest eyesore for China. […]

%d bloggers like this: