I had a disagreement with a friend yesterday.
I don’t cope well with disagreements. They lay me low.
I really need to get better at them if I’m to keep blogging.
When you voice an opinion in a blog post you need to be ready to handle disagreements, they come with the territory.
But even though I expected to be challenged, I was hopeless at dealing with it when it happened.
I’m sure you can guess what our disagreement was about: my blog about racism.
“Sorry Alana but white people don’t get to decide what’s racist,” she told me.
She’s right, they don’t.
But I want to know more about what’s in the hearts and minds of those who are hurt by blackface. I think there’s a difference between questioning what is racist and wanting to ask questions about racism.
Both she and another blogger pointed me to this SMH article called “Really, Australia? Why are we having the blackface conversation again?”
I have an issue with that headline. I think we need to keep having the conversation over and over again, because if I’m hazy on the details after spending more than half of my life working in the media, plenty of other people are too.
“There is no excuse for ignorance,” my friend told me. “To me the onus should be on the uninformed to learn not on us to teach.”
I responded that I thought education IS needed. The truth is most people aren’t going to look it up. And if parents can’t explain to their kids what the problem is then another generation grows up clueless.
So, what’s the answer?
I was troubled by that as I headed to my daughter’s school to watch her in a musical performance.
Then, standing in her quadrangle, tears sprang to my eyes at the realisation we ARE teaching our kids.
My daughter was performing in an African drumming band and it was glorious. All those joyful faces were gazing in awe at their teacher, a bloke called Tuza Afutu from African Beat.
Tuza is a master drummer from Ghana who started drumming when he was a child on a plastic jerry can and practised every day after school with the local musicians from his tribe – the “Ga” people. Later he developed his skills with Ghana’s top National cultural troupe, The Dance Factory.
He’s been teaching year 5 to drum each week. The kids absolutely love it. They were having THE best time yesterday.
Just as the performance began, a group of kids from a nearby school for kids with special needs arrived. They spend Thursday with their “buddies” at my daughter’s school and they wanted to watch the show.
You might remember my daughter was terribly disappointed when she missed out on becoming one of the “buddies.” As I stood there, the kids rushed past me to help the visitors with the sweetest, kindest looks on their faces.
Ohhhhhh, it was hard for me to hold it together.
It was so lovely it lifted me up for a few hours.
But I’ve crashed down again.
I’m sorry if I offended or horrified anyone with my blog. It wasn’t my intention. I genuinely want to understand the issue better.
I hate the thought of a world filled with, well, hate.
Racism sucks. I’m all for anything we can do to be rid of it.
Song of the day: The Beatles “Love is all we need”