Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Multicultural Dream: Obama says 'Yes We Can!'


I have to pinch myself. The skinny man with a funny name is making me dizzy with hope. A black fellah on the yellow brick road to the American Presidency!


Throughout the world Obama's ambition is sending a ripple through neighbourhoods of 'colour' and neighbourhoods where racism still threatens to dwarf self determination and aspiration.

My birthplace, South Africa, made sure I was conscious of my colour and everybody else's. People of mixed blood - "coloured" - as my mob were referred, were distinct for all the wrong reasons. Australia and its acceptance of me and my family has made me see that more clearly.

Apartheid was like living at a foreign airport, having to go routinely through the ritual of customs. That ritual is characterised by the assumption of one's criminality, of one's shame or guilt. You approach the desk with all your papers intact but with a sense of being called to prove yourself. You learn to be polite, clear and efficient, because you recognise that the other mob have incredible, unilateral power.

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