I wonder what Johnny’s mum was up to today ….

Yesterday little ‘Johnny‘ (not his real name) told my son that he ‘should go back to where he came from‘ (among other things). 

That meant I was up at the office this morning discussing racism with the Deputy Principal. It wasn’t the first time that little Johnny expressed his disgust at Gavin’s apparent Asian-ness (apparently his surname is not Australian enough for little Johnny.) The school response was fine. They took little Johnny to the Guidance Counsellor. But not only does little Johnny have no idea why what he said was racist, turns out there’s about five kids who have been saying a whole bunch of racist shit (rather than Gavin’s Asian-ness being a problem, for them it was his Indigenous-ness) towards my boy for a couple of months.

So it got me thinking ……

It occurred to me that after my –

  • drive to the school for an emergency conference with the Deputy Principal;
  • talking to the Deputy an hour later with an ‘I’m sorry but it seems that its bigger than we imagined’ conversation;
  • an hour or so digesting and absorbing the toxic pit of epistemological violence I send my son to each day;
  • conference with husband over the phone about ‘what this means’ and ‘what do we to’;
  • few angry tears of frustration;
  • a quick scroll around Education Queensland website to look for a fact sheet or two about ‘what to do if your child is a victim of racism in our schools’ (and finding nothing)
  • a call to Education Queensland’s Indigenous section who transferred me to a School Community Liaison Officer who quickly suggested that I should simply peruse the bullying resources cause racism/bullying ‘its basically the same’;
  • few more angry tears of frustration;
  • composing a letter to the Deputy Principal about my course of action;
  • questioning and doubting myself (am I just being overly sensitive);
  • picking up said son from school early;
  • debriefing him about feelings, ideas, attitudes of Australians and the impact on him and us and Murris in general ……

….. so after all that, I got to thinking I wonder what little Johnny’s mum was doing today …..

I wondered what she had the privilege of having to deal with today. I know I would rather have being doing something else.

Racism sux.

Update: Just received an email from the the ‘bullying/racism: it’s basically the same’ staffer sending me a link to Racism: No Way materials. FFS! 

4 thoughts on “I wonder what Johnny’s mum was up to today ….”

  1. Yep, that just about sez it all Lees. Spot on sista. Good on you for taking on the school, exhausting/infuriating/oppressive though that need is, you didn't crumble or falter. You are too deadly gal!!

  2. Yep, what rolling:) said, and more. Great articulation Leesa, ala the unpacking the backpack style, excellent. We could all venture a guess at what LJs Mummy was doing today, and little of it would involve the kind of intellectual energy or character you have had to display. I'm glad you cried too, I'm tired of people equating being strong and Blak with having no emotion. We cry and we laugh as well as think and act.

  3. Thanks Mel & Sandra. Your comments mean so much. And yes. I agree we need permission to cry. I was watching Chris Rock's Kill the Messenger last weekend and he was saying how he couldn't believe that there are Blak people who are shocked at racism. I completely get what he means but it sure as hell doesn't make it right or okay that its something we should just expect and deal with.

  4. Great post, Leesa – I felt your frustration and sadness. As an Anglo mum, I would be horrified if one of my children said what Johnny (or the other kids) did to Gavin. Just as you want to protect your son from such ugliness in the world where he is the victim (as do we all), I want to protect mine from perpetuating such attitudes, and also from standing by if others are being racist (or sexist, etc). Schools have an important responsibility to guide children, especially as we know some still aren't getting that guidance at home. Thanks for sharing this story, and I hope things have improved for Gavin at school.

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