EARLY MEMORIES: Of ‘white-space’ protection

‘White-space’ refers to the land of White Australia. Having acquired it in a most terrible fashion, European stock from the British Isles kept out coloured people for a while, even as the original occupiers, black Aborigines and their tanned creole descendants increased in number.

The concept of white space could be seriously challenged. Colonising Europeans, with their skin colour ranging from a coppery tinge to a Moorish tint, are less white than East Asians.

When young, well-educated, expensively-dressed and fee-paying Asian youth arrived, from the late 1940s on, to study, quite ordinary Australians displayed their unhappiness at this intrusion – through poor service, gruff voices, and overt rudeness. They were affronted. Really!

Such overt displays of prejudice (and some discrimination) against representatives of the bulk of mankind (about 85% of us being coloured) were incredible. As well, beneath the surface of a united people keeping their terrain colour-free, there ran a virulent sectarian religious divide. This divide was papered over when vast numbers of non-British, much-needed, able-bodied, European workers arrived (by selection), together with war-Displaced Persons (refugees) from Europe.

The new arrivals, initially unwanted by the populace, displayed that universal acceptance of ‘the other,’ the Asians. Many were knowledgeable about the great Asian civilisations – from the Sea of Japan to the Mediterranean.

Yet, when I was a tram conductor (for 3 months), I did not receive a single slight. Perhaps it was my ‘British’ accent. With one exception (‘Hey! Rastus’), I was not only treated like the other workers in another job, in a factory, but I was also invited to family-and-workmates barbecues. “For a black bastard, you are alright,” said a fellow worker, with a pat on my shoulders. My ability to contribute to emptying a 9-gallon keg of beer – from evening to near-dawn – may have contributed to that judgement.

Progressively, White Australia gave way to a cosmopolitan Australia, aided by the demands of newly-independent Asian neighbours. Even before that, randy, young, tanned Asian lads were known to be ‘comporting’ with lonely landladies and others – who were clearly colour-blind.

White space is no more. The white race (as a concept) will soon go, since there are no definable ‘races’ of mankind. It was a colonial concept anyway, to highlight the claimed innate superiority of Europeans; such puffery!

Not only is everything in the Cosmos connected, but all populations (with the odd exception) are well mixed in ethnic origins.