The first time I heard it I was 10 years old.
In the school playground. In a game of capture the flag.
I was so young, I didn’t understand it at the time.
Dirty, cheating … n-word (for those listening at home).
I wish I could say I was lucky enough not to experience racism as an Indigenous kid, but I guess it was inevitable.
What does it feel like to be black in Australia?
It feels two steps behind.
We sing Advance Australia Fair, but there’s not a lot fair about the way we get treated.
I’ve gotten used to the stares when I walk into cafes and shops.
“Oh, that’s just how it is” — I’ve heard that so many times.
It’s an excuse to keep things the way they are.
And you know what? Things can change!
There’s a habit I’ve developed when I’m getting my money out of my bag.
I go right out into the middle of the aisle — to make a show that I’m taking something out of my bag — not stealing.
I make sure my hands are visible at all times.
I’ve been stopped with my white friends, and it’s my bag they always want to check.
“Oh, that’s just how they are.”
It’s usually grown people who say that.
And I am tired of hearing people make those excuses.
You have to cater for the white man’s world. But I’m still a proud Kamilaroi young woman.
Because being black is a gift.
It’s a gift to spend time with my family — I love our big barbecues so much — everyone with a loaded plate just hanging out.
To turn on the TV and see Stan Grant’s Australian Dream speech — that’s so inspiring for someone like me.
I’m proud to have been school captain at Moree Secondary College.
I don’t want them to hear what I’ve heard and be made to feel different because of who they are — because we stopped making excuses and started to treat everyone fairly.
Then we’ll be able to advance Australia.
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