Scary stories from a lovely place
Hi there. I’m good thanks, and you? Cool. We’re new to the area. Yes we have moved from far away, South Africa actually. Yes it is quite different here. We do miss Joburg, but are enjoying being here in Australia.
Have you met my husband? His name is Stephen. We met in South Africa.
The above interaction reflects a fairly typical conversation I’ve had with people since arriving in Australia in May. From there it continues into surface pleasantries, from how cute my children are, to Stephen’s work situation, and then to our plans for the future.
Interestingly we’ve had a few conversations where the person I’m talking to assumes Stephen is a South African. In one conversation the lady asked Stephen if he missed South Africa. That’s innocent enough I know, but she put on a stilting South African accent, making me realise she thought that was his accent. Another was a conversation a friend had about me and Stephen, and the other person in that conversation did something similar, but inappropriately included a stereotypical racist comment that a white South African might use. Another was with a lady from church who was surprised to see I had white children (despite his middle eastern appearance, Oisín still counts as white). She was assuming I was married to a black South African.
This final assumption was loosely based on the presence in Wombarra of a black African man. I’ve seen him around, and he is unmistakeably African, not Aboriginal or Pacific Islander. He rides a vintage bicycle and has a cool camera. The lady from church heard that I was back in the country and then saw this guy walking with a pram.
The first two assumptions bothered me. Call me racist, but I don’t want people to think I am married to a white South African. I do know many nice white South Africans in Johannesburg. But here in Australia white South Africans are known to huddle together and complain about what this country lacks that they left behind, all the while disparaging South Africa as a hole they were glad to escape from, all the while looking sad to not be there. Being an emigre is complicated.
I’m very quick to tell people Stephen is Irish. And he’s not just of Irish descent somewhere in the distant past like many Australians. He was born and bred in Dublin. True blue green. Hence Oisín’s Irish name.
This prejudice of mine is bothering me. I think I am going to have to stop. So here is my husband, you can decide what he is.