Go home, you black bitch

From the National Archives of Australia

It was less than 5 years ago in Melbourne; the last time someone put their head out of a moving vehicle on a busy road just to scream at me “Go Home, you Black Bitch”. When I lived in Qld during 1996-1998 it was more of a regular weekly occurrence. Is there racism in Australia?

Here is some of my story.

I was born in Melbourne almost 45 years ago, I am told that my father was an African student and I have a newspaper article as evidence that such a man existed in Australia at the time.

I am also told that my mother was a 19 year old white Aboriginal girl from Tasmania who was sent to Melbourne to dispose of the impending “black child” that could not be kept in the family for the disgrace it would bring. My mother’s words, not mine.

Apparently my mother and father were engaged to be married and had been going out together for almost 2 years before I was born.  Her family were of the belief that their courtship would result in a conversion to Christianity for my father.

My mother’s family refused when my father requested her hand in marriage and threatened to undertake court proceedings to have him removed from Australia if he attempted to see my mother again.

My father’s name was not recorded on the birth certificate to ensure he could have no say in my future (my understanding is he preferred me to be brought up by family in Africa rather than strangers).

Adoption

I was adopted out to a working-class white family where I lived until I was sixteen – after which I was left to find a full-time job and somewhere to live because my adoptive parents had divorced and the family home was sold.  Except for a couple of brief years in a relationship, I have been pretty much on my own since then.

Eventually I was officially disowned by my adoptive family following the death of my father 15 years after leaving, allegedly to ensure I would not receive any inheritance.  This came in the form of a Statutory Declaration signed and witnessed at the local Police Station, from my adoptive mother stating that I was no longer her adoptive daughter and that I had no legal entitlement as a family member.  I can’t remember the exact words plus I think I filed the actual document in the round file. 🙂  And just to make things completely clear here – my adoptive father was an unconvicted paedophile, but that’s another story.  Thus you can probably see how I ended up disowned – telling the truth when people want me to agree to a lie gets me into all sorts of trouble with people no matter what colour they are.

Primary School

Primary school was horrific. Of course, it wasn’t all bad and I survived it ok; luckily I started reading when I was three. I was so far ahead by the time I started school all the other issues couldn’t affect my ability to receive education (if you can get access to the library, you can learn).  In amongst discovering I was a genius (my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek here – how could I know you’re not supposed to complete and answer correctly EVERY question in the aptitude test?) going to school was when I first discovered I was black and that, apparently, was a bad thing.

Not only did I have to fight my way through primary school – all the children in our street (including my older sister) that I used to play with before I started school were ashamed to be seen with me and were often initiators or participants in the name-calling and beatings in the schoolyard.  In grade 5 my teacher punched me because I refused to accept the blame for something that I didn’t do.  Even after the real offender had admitted it was him, she still wouldn’t believe me – one of the few times I remember my adoptive mother acknowledging there might be an issue, preferring to believe, like most aussies, that the issue originates with the victim of racism. She acknowledged this mainly because the teacher had openly expressed her disgust at the colour of my skin in front of my mother when discussing the incident, plus the fact that I was half her size and corporal punishment in schools was already banned. I was transferred out of that teacher’s class for the rest of the year.

Just to add a bit more perspective, for the first 20 years of my life I had only seen two or three black people in the flesh (I’ve seen at least ten more since then). One of those was my, also adopted, little brother who is part Yorta Yorta (indigenous people from Victoria, Australia). Some of the side-effects of growing up so isolated from your heritage are the physical issues. I am so grateful to the lady that berated my adoptive mother one day when she saw my very painful skin reactions to the harsh soaps we used – the sheer relief when oil was rubbed onto my young face and for the first time I had no pain or tightness. I am not even going to talk about my afro hair and the weekly fine-toothed comb ordeal which went on for almost an hour – I would cry silently most of the way through.

In grade 6 I decided to forego the violence and could no longer be easily drawn into any physical altercations – I had reached the point where I realised the cycle wouldn’t stop and I couldn’t beat it, plus I felt a little guilty.  I had so much rage inside of me and the kids who were picking on me were just playing a power game, but for me it was survival because I was so outnumbered and afraid most of the time.  At the time I was training in dance classes seven days per week, so I was pretty fit and my thoughts were on ballet, not fighting. I stopped before I actually hurt anyone and I stopped because I realised that I could hurt someone. On the curious side the reputation I developed during my primary school years (for being a good fighter – practice makes perfect you know) helped to provide a buffer for high school.  For most of the time in high school, I was not considered an easy mark for violence, so the kid’s attention turned to the concepts of slavery and sexual harassment as ways to degrade me.

High School

Alex Haley’s Roots being screened on TV undid all my previous coping mechanisms and put me into a whole new world of shite. For some reason I was transferred from a normal high school to a technical high school (for people planning to enter trade apprenticeships such as plumbing, carpentry, motor mechanics, that kind of thing) – you couldn’t get sufficient qualifications to attend university from one of these schools no matter how well you performed. I don’t think these types of schools exist any longer.  The year prior to me attending, it was a “boys only” school, so I was the only female in my entire year level, out of around 30 female students in the entire school that first year. It grew to a peak of 5 female students in my year level (for one month) during my last year at the school.

Within a reasonably short time of arriving at the new school, Roots was screened on TV over many weeks.  Everyone at school watched it and people who had taken no interest in me previously were all of a sudden going out of their way to ridicule, harass and accuse me of being a slave; my parents bought me, they wanted to inspect me for trading and have bidding wars, and countless attempts at sexual assault.  What I find particularly weird is how often the boys told me “you are uglier than the ugliest white girl because you are black”.  After a while I believed them – there were no other people with differing opinions to counter that input.  Kind of “these are the people I have to associate with, they aren’t going to change their minds if I ask nicely, therefore what they believe is true”.  Needless to say I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school.  By the end of high school I had gained a sort of quasi-acceptance where school life was bearable but she weren’t no picnic.

I remember once when I was 15, I was walking home and there were around 80-90 students from my school all waiting for a fight in the soccer field near my house. No, I’m not exaggerating. One of the four girls from my year level had challenged me in class earlier that day trying to bully me into changing from my usual seat. She made such a scene that I gave her the seat and quietly swore at her for being such a pain.  Anyway, she confronted me; I was boxed in so I had to face it.  She asked me to take back what I said a couple of times, I refused and told her it was actually true as far as I’m concerned. She threatened to hit me, I told her it wouldn’t make any difference, she tried to get me to hit her, I said there was no reason to hit her…  The false bravado I showed was the best defence I could muster against all the onlookers carrying on like a bunch of British Soccer Fans howling for my demise. In the end, she punched me in the face, I yelled out that she was still a bleep bleep then I went home without ever raising my fists.

As a footnote, justice was eventually served for that particular event.  One of the kids in my street realised things had gone too far and got things balanced out at another time, in another place, without my knowledge until much, much later.

Out on the town

Fast forward to 1992 and we have a cultural shift in Melbourne.  The hot band on the Australian music charts was Yothu Yindi an indigenous Aussie band.  Then we have the Catani Bar incident where Mandawuy Yunipingu (the lead singer and “Australian of the Year” for 1992) was refused service purely because he was indigenous.  The ensuing outcry resulted in an almost “pro-black prejudice” in Melbourne as people fell over themselves trying to ensure they wouldn’t be labelled racist. Mind you, few people went so far as to actually treat me with respect but they did seem to want my agreement that they weren’t being racist.  I was very popular during that time – a walking talking party accessory!

Equal Opportunity

Around a similar time I met a professional woman who had some chronic health issues and I was deeply involved in some physical therapy work/study. During the course of our friendship she was able to achieve considerable pain relief and stability in her condition, but more importantly, peace with the circumstances that we find ourselves in.  This woman referred me to a potential employer who was also a friend of hers. The company director and I got along fantastically over the phone and arranged a face to face interview for an Office Manager role.  Within a minute of seeing my face, she had changed the role on offer to a casual data entry position (even gave me a couple of tests which was silly – I’m good at tests), reduced the hourly rate by a third and was speaking to me as though I was mentally retarded.  I was feeling so terrible I didn’t actually realise what had happened.

My friend contacted me a half-hour after I left the interview and in a very stressed voice asked me what I did/said at the interview.  I replied that nothing much happened, but the job role changed considerably and I didn’t know what went wrong.  My friend asked me to prepare myself then told me that she had just received a call from the company director and the first thing this person had to say was, “Why didn’t you tell me she was black?” Apparently this person was quite upset with my friend for referring me, a black woman of all things, the cheek of it!  The behaviour of that person as a potential employer was in contradiction to the laws of the land, as is most of the serious racism I have experienced.  So Australia may not be a racist country, but I have still managed to cross paths with a hell of a lot of racist people.

Birth family and the ongoing search for acceptance

I also want to mention that I met my birth mother more than 20 years ago.  Currently our relationship is in dire straits.  It started to deteriorate around the time she realised that I was never going to stop searching for information on, or asking her about, my father – he is the reason I am black after all.

In 20 years she has imparted this much information: he was from Africa, he came to Australia as part of the SCAAS, he and my mother met at the university, they went out for a couple of years until I showed up. He immediately wanted an abortion (she thinks I should hate him for that, but I don’t care at all), she refused. They may have already secretly become engaged prior to me showing up – there are a few versions on that one so I can’t be sure. They dreamed of how their life together in Africa would be with the promise of building a new country.  When my mother was shipped off to Melbourne to dispose of me, my father sold his car to follow her and try and convince her of a different course of action.  His last words to her in the hospital when she refused to allow him any say in my future were something like “Now I have my revenge on the white race”. Remembering this statement makes my mother very angry; I can’t really say that I truly understand why.  It’s obviously not an accurate statement of the facts. It is me who is living out the consequences of their decisions.

My birth mother was only 19 when I was born and the threat of losing her family was unbearable to her. I do understand that, but not intimately, I have lived through the alternative and I am no better or worse for it. What gets me is that for the past 20 years she hasn’t been able to remember which city or village my father was from even though she wrote to his sister regularly for more than a year, she has no pictures, no useful information for me, she can’t tell me what he was like as a person, just his name.  I have my adoption records which show that at the time, she told the authorities that she thought he was less intelligent than her because he had to work so hard at his studies (getting a uni degree in a foreign language is apparently dead easy so why don’t we all have one).

Eventually I wrote to the consulate here in Australia, thank goodness we are busy digitising the national archive, because I found the newspaper photo from almost 40 years ago that enabled them to trace some information on him. He had already passed away and apparently he retired as a government minister. I am still awed by the kindness of strangers sometimes – it took several months to receive a response and it shows that a colleague from another consulate had gone home for the holidays and looked up the information. So now I know everything I should ever want to know so just drop it, right?

My half-sister on my mother’s side accused me of racism against her mid last-year because I called her “mate”.  This is a woman who is a fair-skinned, part-indigenous, AB (Able Seaman) who has spent most of her life working in a situation where she is the only female on crew. When I am relaxed I call everyone “mate”, I thought the whole world knew that about Aussies, but she asked me who the hell I thought I was? She also offered to “punch me out” for taking such liberties.  That was the last time I saw anyone in that family.  I have asked my mother not to contact me at all; there was so much blame and accusation directed at me for the circumstances of my sister’s outburst – “If you hadn’t come to visit, none of this would have happened,” which initially did not get a very calm response from me.  But now it’s ok mum, relax, I get the message.  In the 20 years I have known her I have not been able to get to know her any better than when I first met her, she has nothing to say about my father except “why don’t you change your surname to match his if you want him so much.”  She cannot hear me say that all I want is the feeling of belonging; to a race, a people, a family, a person – humans, anyone! When someone tells me to go home because I am black – I actually want to go home – but there is no such place.

My mother lost a little brown baby and a dream of the future, not this defiant warrior woman who will do anything for those she loves, even staying out of the way so she won’t trigger those uncomfortable feelings from the past.  My presence makes her unhappy; maybe my absence will bring her peace.  I don’t think this is honourable just pragmatic. I need to survive emotionally too, and I have limits.  None of my [white] mothers have acknowledged my search for a cultural identity as being a relevant part of my existence.

So the point is this…

  • Don’t let people mess with your peace!
  • Ask yourself why do you need to give your energy to an idea, a thought or an emotion that is making you unhappy?
  • Do whatever it takes to achieve balance.
  • Do not waste energy crying out that you are a victim, because the world of victims contains bullies and oppressors – one cannot exist without the other.
  • Expect to get it wrong, expect to get it right. The most useful tool in my back pocket has often proven to be “the unexpected”.
  • If you don’t want to deal with someone who is behaving in a racist fashion – don’t!
  • Be willing to accept that sometimes you want something else more than you want to fight ignorance, so ignore or find another way past the distractions.
  • If sometimes you want to stand up for yourself and demand respect – go ahead, you might get it and you might not.
  • Be whoever you want to be and accept the consequences.

I have never met a victim of anything who has experienced worse than what the earth has had to put up with and it is still sustaining us.  That might be a silly thing to say, but I mention it because thinking like that personally helps me to desensitise myself when I’ve had a rough day and reminds me to think about how I am going to get through the next day if I let myself crash and burn on emotions today.

To date, those who have spoken to me of their experiences with racism have unilaterally responded to the problem with some kind of self-denial, when the obviously sensible response would be to do something self-affirming.

Seriously, try something, develop your own responses, the more unique the better, but…

…don’t waste a single second trying to prove there is racism in the world, it exists.

Fact.

Drop it.

You don’t need to give it legs and watch it run rings around you.

…else you might miss out on all the wonderful Australians of which there are plenty to go around.

With peace to you all.
Robyn

2013 Winner Best Short Short/Long Story Non-Fiction thepublicblogger Awards

2013 Winner
Best Short Short/Long Story Non-Fiction
thepublicblogger Awards

154 thoughts on “Go home, you black bitch

  1. Robyn! This is such a powerfully written and heartbreaking story! Thank you for sharing, sorry I didn’t find the link sooner! There is too much I would want to say, but someone recently told me ‘A Wise Man Once Said Nothing’. 😉 Good on you. Stay strong, free and well!

    • Thank you, David,

      You can say anything you want of course 😉 I know I’m probably never likely to become wise, so I don’t even try and follow the rules.

      Fwiw, I notice the story brings up a lot of stuff for people. At times it can also be helpful for me to view it from other people’s perspective when it gets a bit too heavy to carry on my own.

    • David, Indeed Robyn’s essay is powerful and well written. Some of her US fans would very much love to see a book from Robyn, sure to be just as hard-hitting, and profound. Robyn is able to articulate complex issues seemingly effortlessly just by telling her truth. She is great, we definitely miss her when she is not writing these award worthy works. Thank you for stopping by. It is nice when someone finds Robyn’s blog and experience what many of us had done when she first started writing. We are fans for life.

      • I have been getting critiques and it seems my writing is quite bad. This is the feedback I get from literary types. It is flowery and dreary, I hear. There would be no point in putting words into a book on that basis. Hence I don’t pursue it.

        Also relatives, blood or adoptive, say that events in my stories that I remember as if it was yesterday simply aren’t true. In short, very few people would appreciate me ublishing anything about mt life and instead I believe many would oppose it.

        I am just trying to survive. Being known for this story in this political climate in this country will make my life hell. The bullying will get out of control. I can’t face that yet. I am too isolated and not strong enough.

      • Of course no one can live your life but you and must respect the choices you have made for that life. Critiques can be useful as long as they are objective and not personal attacks. We love hearing from you and reading your stories and commentary. I believe you would have a successful book. Sometimes names and situations are changed to maintain privacy or to prevent “outing” publicly. You have friends and support with or without a book, just as you are!

      • Thank you Lorraine. You do have a good point there. I suppose if not one positive word can be said when critiquing my work it’s not much use. It is a difficult time for me in terms of circumstances. Yelling at me from cars has recommenced, lol, last night would you believe? So there’s more to write probably. Just a bit tired. I plan to write to you soon though. For now, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, you have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. May you be blessed always.

  2. With peace to you, too, Robyn.

    It’s a crazy, fucked up world, and it’s a wonder that some of us even manage to preserve a smidgen of sanity in the midst of it all . . .

    But there you are, Robyn . . . defying all odds . . . in both grace and beauty . . .

  3. Sometimes, people tell their own stories in as straightforward a way as possible. Explicit. Telling. Emotion tamped down, but right there, beneath the surface, but always bubbling up through. Stories told with a simple, direct, unapologetic honesty.

    When told this way, the stories always win. And when they are as compelling — and disturbing — as yours, we’re all a little hurt by it, all a little stunned by it, and all a little wiser for it.

    Kudos. And thank you.

  4. Makes eye contact
    Shrugs
    Opens palm to sky
    Sits with you back to back
    In silence

    Cryptic romantics
    The Goddess and The Knight

    • If I blink will you disappear, you are so real and coherent, that I can’t believe my eyes. Thank you. Sitting with me – first time it’s ever been suggested. In fact, there are a lot of firsts in how I feel in response to your words. I shall treasure them.

      • I act on the purest of impulses. Drawn like a moth. Ecstatic and full of hope.

        Reaching for a world in which it would seem the two of us have already spent an eternity whispering in each others ear.

        These words are writing themselves. My heart beats in the wonderful triumph of a sacred understanding.

        Nothing else
        Just this

      • The illusion of separateness seems to be like a kite on a string – against a backdrop of clear blue skies and blinding sunlight. Hard to remember it’s there or why. My heart is full.
        And yes,
        Nothing else
        Just this.

  5. This is one of those few posts where no words can convey the response required. However, I will say that if life experiences forge character, you are one very fine person.

    • Hi Cat!
      I am always so delighted by your posts, you have a beautiful way of handling the truth. It’s as though you are the silver lining for every cloud that enters your life. Now I wish I had the presence of mind to write that comment when I read your last post…

      I stopped writing for most of the year, I don’t know why, then I started again and I am glad. So, there are a couple of new poems on http://jamborobyn.wordpress.com/ but nothing here yet – still working on that. It’s good to be back though.

      • I am always delighted to see you whether in your element as tech geek/nerd, prolific writer or just saying hi to the world. We are hungry for all you wish to share.

  6. Wow, definitely think about a book, there are many publishers out there that write for the sake of writing. I was engrossed to the end. Your story highlights how many of us suffer in silence but still somehow pull through in the end. I don’t know how, whether it’s strength, residence or just determination to succeed, I Am certain there are other people out there who would think our story is a dip in the sea. But for those going through the trauma of racism, abuse, for whatever reason the pain is very real. I’m glad you have decided to write your story,, as often we can release demons that we had forgotten we had, but which would resurface at times in your life. Sad story indeed, at 45yrs to still remember all this so vividly shows, that you must take the journey and write a book. Show the world that despite the pain you are still strong enough, so others can also look at their situation, and hang on. Your story has gripped me, because your life could have ended much worse, this shows true sense of character. I’m definitely in your corner.,. Brilliant post.

  7. I’m so glad our paths have crossed at WordPress. I appreciate everything you wrote here and I look forward to reading more.
    All the best,
    Ann

      • I disagree Daron. You can find racism all over the globe. Just pick a place and you will find that black people there have experienced racism of some kind. The thing is how you process the experience and move from there. No place on earth is racism free.

  8. Hello Robyn, reading your blog so moved me, I felt compelled to send you my very best wishes – keep up the writing, yours is the kind of story that needs to be shared, in spite of what life has thrown your way, you do “turn it into a good story in the end”.

    • Thank you, Corinne, for your kind words and wishes. The point of sharing was lost on me until I actually wrote the story, it seems to have a life of it’s own and has made such a positive impact on my life as I can’t begin to describe. Happy New Year to you!

  9. I’ve only just read your post Robyn and am moved by it. I can see that you’re strong and you’re coping and I would like to send you my best. Keep on keeping on and never say, ‘die.’ You’re an inspiration!

    • I am humbled again and again by the kindness of people who come by to read my story, it actually inspires me and encourages me to stay strong and true.

      So I thank you very much for stopping by, taking the time and for your wonderful comment! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!
      – Robyn

      • What a way to bring in the new year! Love and continued blessings to you Robyn. See, accept and feel all this global love from people around the world you touch. We’ll soon see you at a TED Talk presentation. I am staying tuned for that!

  10. Robyn . . . wow . . . it’s hard to know where to start.

    What a moving story you’ve written of your life and times! I was sure racism existed [exists] in your part of the world, but I had no idea what it looked like . . . now I have a picture. Wow!

    I’m nearly 57, so I’ve had plenty of time to witness tons of examples of racism in midwest America, where I’ve spent my entire. As a young child I cannot tell you how many times I’d seen and heard my father yell, “Back to Africa,” from our family car. As you can image, your words at the beginning of this post hit me hard.

    I remember thinking at the time, this isn’t right, so why is my dad – who I saw through my young eyes as perfect – doing something like this? (Ironically my late father was of mixed race himself: half Caucasian and half Native American.) In 1968 dad and mom took the extreme measure of moving our family to a tiny all white town to avoid integration (forced school busing). I was given lots of opportunity to turn out a racist, but it wasn’t in me and I headed back to the big city – and its diversity – as soon as I had the chance.

    Coming of age in the 1970s I really thought we in the USA were going to get past this attitude for good – and for a while it looked like that was the case. Sadly, racism has come back with a vengeance here. It isn’t just the older folks who remember the stuff they got away with years ago, it’s younger folks that have no excuse for it as well. It’s very disheartening to me.

    You story is off the charts – as they say. I am so sad you had to go through all of this, but I’m so pleased you chose to share it! As there’s so much here, I will be re-reading it when time permits.

    Talk to you soon, my friend!

    —Lee

    • Lee, thank you so much for coming by and for such a thoughtful and generous comment. I love reading your poetry, but I had no idea of the person behind such beautiful words.

      It’s funny how we humans can get so caught up with belief that we lose sight of the truth – we need each other. I don’t envy anyone with hatred in their heart, no matter how much “better” their circumstances appear to be.

      My heart goes out to your father, for everything he denied himself by taking that approach, where he might have found brotherhood, he chose separateness. There is too much suffering and hatred going on these days and to end it, we must each choose to heal and live from our own truth. Something you seem to be doing admirably well. Not just from what you have written here, but by the many poems of yours I have enjoyed which, quite simply, move me beyond myself and into the world of shared humanity.

      So in my frequently mischievous fashion I am going to sign off with the most wonderful concept I discovered from my brief foray into Native American culture many years back.

      For all our relations 😉
      Robyn

  11. Finding you has been a blessing.

    The experiences you share are profound, defining moments and I appreciate the candid approach you have taken.

    I believe my own thoughts reflect a substantial amount of what has already been said here.

    Thank you Robyn, it has been a pleasure to have met you.

    ML
    x

    • The feeling is entirely mutual, Miss Lou, a blessing indeed. Appreciate you reading and taking the time to add your voice – living, breathing proof of those wonderful Aussies I am so proud of. You are a very switched-on, intelligent, talented and caring woman.

      Until next time.
      Cheers, Robyn

    • Hello Sista, I was writing a comment on your blog last night and my computer crashed so I figured it was time to sleep. I’ll be over later to pick up where I left off. Thank you so much for your comments – we are survivors if only so we can dance and smile and brighten this old world.

  12. Hey – cant speak much on here about current topics sweety – for many many reasons see – if you wanna talk more – just shout and I will give you my mail. 🙂

      • I was a bit taken aback first time I noticed that, but then I realised there were many arguments both for and against. Say if someone is harassing someone, this way they can be identified and stopped.

      • GOOD point! I dont get many people following the comments on my posts – so its not worth getting paranoid over 😉 Just as you – it was news to me that!!

  13. @SwirlQueen, I am again, speechless! I thought that I was some unknown out here in the blog world, basically talking to myself and here you’ve stated that there are those who are actually reading and liking what they read. You have no idea what your comment means to me! I already have a deep affinity for Robyn. I know that sounds ‘cheesy’, but it is so! I actually think of her as my sister and wish that I could do anything for her. She, quite obviously, is touching so many hearts, the world over, mine included that her blog just cannot be ignored.

    And once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! We are ALL sisters, no matter where we are! I can most definitely feel the love!!! I am tearing up again! You have touched me as has Robyn! I thank you both!!

  14. Wow! I had no idea! I am getting a ‘big’ head here! Whatever I am doing, I hope to keep it up! And do not forget, you are not alone! We may all be thousands of miles from each other, but we are still able to connect as you can see and as you have pointed out to me in regards to what someone said about my blog. I had no idea. Wow! Now I’ve got to try and fit my ‘big’ head through the door! LOL! Take care!

    • Thank you for you kind comments to Robyn. Seems that people are being led to this blog by more than just coincidence in my opinion. Everyone who reads her story is touched and go away with a pricked heart or a deep level of compassion and understanding. I wanted to say that your blog is fab too and I just had to share on Facebook and started following you on twitter. Your words poetry is fantastic, and your prose has just the right amount of wit wrapped in serious subject matter. Bravo an look out for more readers I’m sending your way. Keep up the good work! And thank you too Robyn. You never know how many people you are reaching. Some in like circumstances, some brazenly enlightened, all thankful that you opened up your life and shared with us.

  15. I will continue to cheer you on because you have touched my heart. And those of us who ARE human, most definitely welcome YOU!!! I know it is rough! I am not in your shoes, but I know that it is still not easy for you, but do know that if you ever need a pick-me-up, send a flare up and I’ll come a runnin’ with guns blazing!!! And I mean that!!!

    Bless your beautiful heart!!!!!!

    • Ditto. Almost tempted to take a selfie to show you the size of the grin (except I am quite rubbish at that kind of thing). I can’t quite remember where I was last night, but I’ll track it down eventually, it was what someone said about you in a comment that sent me your way. The respect they had for you, I know you are making a difference every single day and you are my kind of person. When I arrived at your blog, I decided it was an understatement. You rock, sister, and I’ll be seeing you. No doubt.

  16. Mercy! Mercy me! I do not even know where to begin! I have read some blogs that have sincerely resonated with me, but I have got to state that this one is THE one that has left me almost completely speechless. If it weren’t for the fact that I am a ‘southerner’, I would have nothing to say, because mere words just do not seem sufficient to get you to understand just what an impact, reading this has had on me.

    I doff my ‘cyber’ hat to you because I thought that I was strong, but gosh darn it, you’re the ‘Incredible Hulkstress’ of strength, fortitude and endurance, to have gone through what I have read here and still have a strong head on your shoulders as opposed to sitting on a floor in some psych ward in a wrap-around jacket and muttering about pink elephants and purple giraffes. Have mercy!

    Yes, indeed! Write a book! I would buy several!!

    • Oh Shelby, so many times I have wanted to go down the pink elephant road but those human survival instincts (and amazing genes) tipped me over into defiance of the obvious outcome. It must not be… this must be an aberration. Only after I wrote this story and started receiving feedback from outside Australia did I realise that not everyone in the world thinks this kind of thing is OK. Every time I have wanted to give up hope or fall in a heap, I find someone or something that proves to me that if I wasn’t meant to exist and have a full life, then I wouldn’t be here.

      “The incredible hulkstress” comment had me beaming with pride.

      I dreamed last night of a journey to Europe and although there were a million obstacles and everything kept going wrong making it seem like I would miss my plane, my fellow travellers who had gone on ahead, had left helpful clues in my path and when it came down to the wire and all the tasks had been completed and I was exhausted, they had arranged a cab which was waiting outside to take me to the airport. I arrived just in the nick of time and they were all there waiting and cheering me on. We boarded the airplane together. This is the first period of time in my life that I have felt welcome to be part of the human race. Thank you.

  17. This is just amazing.

    Actually, I’m spilling it here: I’m now working on the slavery post I’d planned to include in the Greatness series. I heard a most fascinating clip on news radio today about George Romney’s dedication toward fair housing enforcement in the States (appointed by Nixon) to undo the practices and discrimination that still smeared America decades back. I grew up in a very colorful immigrant neighborhood so I appreciate something of your story, though you’ve been through an incredible lot. Thank you for the ongoing support. *Squeeze hand*

    Diana

    • Thanks Diana, some days I am amazed I am breathing 😉 but we live through things that we couldn’t believe if we were warned. The article you are working on sounds very interesting and necessary. I can’t wait to read it.

      Another lady commented here (Annette) and mentioned Joseph Campbell and the heroine’s journey. In my research of that concept over the last couple of days, I came across some writing on the “Slave” archetype which appears to resonate with my inner experience of the journey so far.

      In my eyes it’s the perfect time for your article, so I wait patiently… BTW, this is a good place to “spill” what is coming next along those lines. I don’t have 1000’s of followers, but they are sincere, genuine, interested people.

      • =)

        I’ve boasted that I have the best followers (eh hem) but am glad to hear you enjoy your relationship with your precious readers. I’d planned on the post a few months back – it’s been a losing battle for time to write it up. But-finally-started-today (while fighting a cold).

        If I may share one of my earlier posts, a glimpse of my own challenges in the wayfaring:

        http://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/faith-and-suffering/

        I would never obligate a reader to respond. Thanks for getting to it – if you do.

      • I will definitely check it out, thanks for sharing. I didn’t mean to challenge anything by mentioning my followers, more that my story is about racism, so your topic may be of interest.

  18. As an RCAF brat, I moved a fair bit. Always the new kid or the outsider, and often bullied or thrashed. Same skin colour, though.

    Rather makes me suspect that the racist comments were masking some deeper, ugly, and universal truth about human nature.

    • Hey thanks for stopping by. You are talking about bullying which sometimes appears to be a celebrated characteristic of human behaviour. From where do our actions arise, love or fear? I think that is the essential question. This is somewhere our free will comes in. The idea of the “other” is false, we are interdependent. I have a limit to how close people can come because they are all just passing through my life as I see it. As much as I know this isn’t the truth, it’s a reflection of my general experience that can only be altered by experiences that prove the lie. I don’t need proof for everything, but that one idea is stubborn and has a whole list of experiences to point to in order to maintain the lie. I am so glad I didn’t have to move all the time and go through all with new people every couple of years, how did you deal with it? Were there ongoing consequences to the way you saw life? Just curious, you don’t have to answer.

      Cheers,
      Robyn

      • Hi Robyn,

        I’m a bit of an introvert, so I suppose I withdrew within myself to some extent. Still, the fear of beatings was never a fun thing. I can see how you would develop such a life philosophy (or policy).

        Interestingly, I plan to publish my first book in January (not trying to flog it here), and narcissism is a primary theme. I’m proposing that narcissism manifests differently in males and females, and that a gender interpretation of narcissism provides a plausible explanation for bullying.

        Might expand that line of thought to include racism in a planned sequel, after reading your story here.

      • Read one of your posts on the gender narcissism concept last night and I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. The word is over-used and misunderstood by many. I did more research trying to figure out where I stood. I have no position. We can’t exist without male and female. I am good with that. I wish everyone to be happy and at peace with their being, understanding that your gender, your characteristics, everything, has been provided by everything that existed before you did. To judge that is to judge yourself. It is evidence that you believe the world to be in error in some way, but to believe that is also to believe that you don’t or shouldn’t exist. No matter how much a person expresses this perspective, it is never true. To them or to anyone listening.

        May I say that the physical world rests upon principles that include iteration and cooperation, not by will (we can’t will our cells to multiply or the bees to pollinate the flowers). From this starting place, I believe that groups of people will exhibit the same characteristics as humans, but they do not have a single consistent focus, therefore they don’t grow as fast as individuals.

        Countries/races seem like teenagers, completely aware they have a right to be, but totally unsure of their place amongst others, always trying to get the rest of the world to reflect their views back to them.

        They are bound by their beginnings, their pasts and their ideas of the future. The “other” becomes real even though there is not a single race in the world that is self-sufficient, that isn’t dependent on their brothers and sisters from around the world to survive.

        Having everyone move around and mix up the races is the kind of thing we see in nature all of the time and we marvel at it’s wisdom when it involves plants and other animals. The mistake is the belief that we can exist outside our own nature and that the laws of physical reality will bend to our will. An idea that has caused uncountable suffering through the ages.

        These are just my thoughts in progress and I encourage you to consider that second volume of work, you have the right kind of mind to get to the bottom of all this.

      • Robyn,

        This was insightful: “From this starting place, I believe that groups of people will exhibit the same characteristics as humans, but they do not have a single consistent focus, therefore they don’t grow as fast as individuals.”

        I was actually planning to allude to this possibility in the second book. The late social critic Christopher Lasch essentially proposed this in one of his books (I’m not an academic or a scholar), so I want to expand on this idea of his.

        Thanks for your kind words. I do hope that I can offer some insight into some of the less pleasant aspects to people and therefore society. It often isn’t a question of having all he answers; it’s a matter of knowing which questions to ask.

      • I agree, asking the right questions is definitely where the gold can be found. As a function, what purpose does narcissism serve, in an individual, in a group? Which traits have greater impact as a result of repetition over time and across every variation and which dwindle away to non-existence? They are my first questions.

        Some of the stuff you said about female narcissism, I think there were/are elements of that in my story. It’s taken forever to realise that some mothers aren’t always doing their very best.

        I’m gonna check out Christopher Lasch and come talk to you on your blog when I understand more.

      • I would get into the basics of psychoanalysis before hitting Lasch, as he writes from that perspective in “The Culture of Narcissism,” a modern classic. His other books are supposed excellent too, but I have yet to read them.

        I found that my ex-wife’s expert-confirmed narcissistic personality traits conformed to something known as covert narcissism. I explain how and why I assess this to be a feminine form of narcissism. It just makes so much sense. For example, it provides a perfectly rational explanation for Munchausen By Proxy.

        I explain this in my current book. Maybe it would offer you some insight into your past, or perhaps not. If you’re interested, please fire me an email at themirrorbooks@gmail.com.

      • Hey, I just discovered this in my spam queue. I apologise for that. I did read the little bit of Lasch I found online in my first search. I wonder, what basics of psychoanalysis you are thinking I should get into? On first look, it seemed pretty straightforward to me, but then I may not be getting your point. There was something Lasch said that I loved, however that seemed to be in reference to a later book than the one on narcissism. Also, I couldn’t find my way back to the post on your blog that had me considering the whole narcissism thing in the first place… I am an absolute magnet for the narcissists, they can see me coming a mile off 😉

  19. Robyn – I saw your blog picture on MeticulousMick’s blogroll and was drawn to click on it. Read your amazing story and feel very moved by it. I am German and my first husband was from the Caribbean (dark-skinned African heritage). Our daughter is bi-racial but was lucky to be raised in a very cosmopolitan, multi-racial, multi-lingual school system outside of Washington DC. She is proud of who she is and moves through the world as if she belongs…and, of course, she does and she is part of the multi-racial world community.
    But I know other stories of bi-racial people that are heart-breaking, like yours.
    I am so sorry you were born in a place and under circumstances that did not affirm you as an intelligent, attractive, sensitive, creative, strong person with brown skin. But I can see that you are incredibly resilient and a wonderful writer. And I wish you healing and love as you meet people who can embrace you and affirm you.
    Going back to the details of your father’s identity – if English wasn’t his first language, he may have come from a French-speaking African country (?), that would narrow things down a little bit. I wasn’t sure whether the embassy actually provided you with his identity and then said that he was deceased? He must have created another family when he returned home – perhaps you have siblings there on your father’s side who are traceable? Also, the university where he studied must have a record of him….just some thoughts, in case you are still searching…
    Much love to you, Annette

    • Hi Annette,

      Your kind words are much appreciated and thanks so much for telling me about your daughter. There is a woman in Sweden, I think, since moved to the UK who sent me selfies recently whilst she was doing a treatment on her hair. I can’t believe how happy it made me and how much it made me cry. I had never before seen another black woman’s hair as they see it in the bathroom mirror. Small things that make a big difference to me, still so many firsts yet to experience!

      I know my father’s name, the photo in the post is of him when he was in Australia (so I have seen the side of his head. He already had one daughter when I was born. I received a very odd email from my birth mother a few months back that I only read a few weeks ago (I knew it contained bullets so I only read it by accident during some email filing). She has presented me with an entirely different story of my birth and adoption, suggesting her parents offered to try and help him stay in the country (he worked in the Tanzanian government, so what an odd thing to say) but he was too “vengeful” and perhaps I have inherited those traits! This got me thinking that the only thing that doesn’t make sense about the whole story is the idea that they were engaged. I suspect he was married. He is from Tanzania, so he speaks Swahili. I have to prepare for the idea that his family could react just as badly or even worse than the people here. I don’t know what they are proud of and what they are ashamed of in that culture. I cannot go just yet. First I want to have his name added to my original birth certificate (we have just had new legislation passed in response to the National Apology on Forced Adoption that may allow me to get this done). His name is in the adoption records but he was given no say, no legal rights to determine my future. I want to know, first, whether he is truly my father or just some scapegoat. I’m never going to get the truth from my mother, she thinks it is her story to control.

      This article doesn’t even feel like it was written by me, it came out on it’s own and so fast, I could barely keep up. I think this story belongs to the people, I think it was my job to live it so anyone who wanted to could learn about these things without having to go to extremes. It ties me to the greater family of humans in an undeniable way and has brought an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am so glad of my genes, that my DNA has crossed oceans to be created, I stand at the crossroads between cultures, between the worst and the best that humanity can be and I understand how amazing the human race truly is. I can’t help thinking if we all knew just how strong we really were, we wouldn’t bother with things that stopped us from expressing the love that fills our hearts.

      I love the name of your blog and I’ll be over to check it out soon. Reading is my favourite thing to do, so the best part of this little blog world is that it contains real human beings with stories to tell and gifts to share.
      Warmest regards to you,
      Robyn

      • Jambo, Robyn! Jambo is one of the few words I remember from a Swahili language class my daughter went to when she was young.
        Your hair story reminds me of seeing a few biracial children in an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine. I was there as a consultant in the late 90s. I noticed the children’s hair was really coarse and dry, obviously not treated with appropriate hair products. I told the translator that I would be happy to send black hair products from the US for them but she said that everything at the orphanage was communal and had to be used by all the children.
        My daughter said that she never felt that either white or black hairdressers knew what to do with her hair. the only people who “understood” her hair were women from the Dominican Republic. Oh, the hair stories….
        Where are you now in Australia? There must be some places that are more multi-cultural and cosmopolitan than where you grew up. Australia has so many immigrants from all over the world….
        I trust that you’ll get the opportunity to go to Tanzania. Somehow, I sense that you’ll find a missing piece of your life there.
        I once met a bi-racial woman (African-American and Vietnamese) who was adopted by an African-American family as a baby but never felt at home in their culture. When she turned 18, she went to Vietnam to find her mother and for the first time in her life, she felt like she was home. She was able to claim her Asian heritage for the first time.
        You know, I really was impressed with the long and thoughtful comments on your blog. You touch something in people that brings this out in them. Your story is the Heroine’s Journey incarnate (are you familiar with Joseph Campbell?). thank you for having the courage to share it with all of us who resonate with it.
        Annette

      • I live in Melbourne, it is considered the most cosmopolitan city here. There is a growing contingent of Africans here, but they rarely return my smiles when I see them on the street. I don’t present to them as belonging to their group (I don’t wear makeup, my hair is natural, etc) and those that I have met argue the point that I must be indigenous Australian. They are probably struggling with their own response to living in Australia, it’s kind of backwards and forwards at the same time and like any new country, takes a bit of getting used to.

        Joseph Campbell – not something I am aware of but I’m interested in checking it out. I was so happy when I woke and saw all the lovely comments and the wonderful thoughtful people that exist in the world.

        Your blog truly lives up to it’s name. It is very beautiful so you’ll be seeing me around, no doubt. Really wonderful to have been introduced to you.

        I know one more swahili word “malaika” from a traditional Tanzanian love song. Nakupenda malaika (I love you, my angel). In the song, the man cannot marry because he is too poor to support the woman he loves, if circumstances were different, etc. I have always imagined my father would say something like this to me if he had the chance to know me. I know that’s lame, but the idea gives me peace.

        I’ll *see* you soon.
        Robyn

      • Robyn, I am enjoying this blog as much as the new wave of readers. That is how blogs are, they have a life of their own. You won’t get any comments for a while and then a legion of new readers discovering it for the first time.

        One thing Annette said: You touch something in people that brings this out in them. Your story is the Heroine’s Journey incarnate (are you familiar with Joseph Campbell?). thank you for having the courage to share it with all of us who resonate with it.”

        See how you are a voice for others who you will never meet? You are not alone. Maybe in your particular experience, but collectively you can tell what others would never be able to articulate before seeing it in letters before their eyes.

        Keep on talking lady. Better yet, scream your story from the roof tops. You have people up there who waited for their voice and want to shout their own stories now. I can hear it all the way here in LA. 🙂 Cathartic and healing benefits abound.

      • Lorraine, my sincerest apologies. Somehow you made it into the SPAM queue, which I forgot to check (still learning). I owe so much to you and your tireless support – it’s almost like you gave me permission to be me, to do what I was born to do and just yesterday I was telling someone that even though it’s pretty scary to go out on a limb and speak your truth, it’s worth it because you can sleep at night, knowing that the day was worth living and you were in it. So I am passing the message on, even though the message was hiding in the spam queue :-).
        Much love to you.
        Robyn

  20. I just popped over here to say thanks for the likes and I am left speechless. I am angry, amazed and full of admiration all at the same time. I know what it is like to feel rejected, to blame for all that goes wrong, but still it has to be on that one same person top break the habits and be strong and face the issues. Very well written Robyn and pleased to meet you. MM 🍀

    • Oh thank you, Mick it’s a pleasure to meet you. You know, I saw your post on the islands and I am also speechless, awestruck by the beauty of that place, not to mention the dog! I love your blog and am searching for words to do justice to the impact you just had on me.

  21. So I firmed up quite quick there 😉 I see a few mentions in the comments about the book thing ~ yet I also see the outlook you have ended this on which is stunning!
    I don’t even know you and I am proud of you – weird stuff.
    I also saw another comment of yours which was beautiful and makes me believe you have found a home to belong to (hope that makes sense?!)
    All these ‘issues’ from your life are so many of those that are so close to my heart (and many others I am sure) for many many reasons – which I would go into but that would be ridiculous as it matters not….even though –
    Everyones story matters, but if we all tried to tell everyone just how and in what way we can relate to their story or what we understand of it and how it affects our perception..truth is we would get nothing else done! lol! YOU have figured this out ~
    Lovely to ‘meet’ you and read about your experiences (even though it was really hard topics to read on 😉 )

    • Hey thanks for the amazing feedback. I fell like we kind of did “meet” over at Harsh Reality 😉 The experience of writing and sharing this story has been incredible. I arrived at the conclusion a couple of weeks ago that the best response to shame is gratitude. It’s considerably more powerful and feels a hell of a lot nicer to carry around…hehe…so at this stage I am quite grateful for the life I have lived so far. *see you soon*

  22. You know what – I ACTUALLY can not finish reading this right now ~ and I am going to come back later when my spine has firmed again…but I will say one thing before I depart and return –
    They say hardship can either make you or break you ~and with the way you write and these pictures of you, I can say with certainty without reading further (yet) That you have endured above all odds and if hard knocks make for stronger compassionate sound grounded people- rather than wilting willies: You my dear must be one hell of an incredible woman.
    ~so much more I can say#but I feel quite overwhelmed by your story so far – ( I hope you are writing a book or something and if not I almost want to write it for you!)
    Unbelievable – just =

    • I don’t know what to say… thank you, I am truly honoured, and just a little bit overwhelmed. In the last week, seriously questioning where I should focus my energies, took a quiet moment to frame what kind of guidance I needed, and now this! All I can say is thanks. Your blog provides incredible inspiration and encouragement and most importantly to me, the feeling of community.

  23. I’m am so delighted to see the outpouring of support offered you. I resonated with your story because I also experienced a loss of my family early on and have often felt alone or surrounded by near-strangers for whom I was an annoying nuisance. Fate left me my dad, but he was usually not home. I often felt like the alien from outerspace in my home and I had to fight, too. My first thought, arriving on your blog, looking at your joyful picture was how beautiful you are. And after reading your story, I was impressed how well-adjust you are. I also offer hugs, and a friend. You are not alone. You are right that even though racist nasty folk are everywhere, so there are also kind, supportive people everywhere. In general, I thought you were not bitter in your recounting, but factual and warm even. You deserve to be loved, held warmly and admired lovingly. I want that for you, and I hope you find it for yourself, since it wasn’t given. I have that in my life now, and I fight for it, every day. Warmly, Brenda

    • Brenda,

      I am sure Robyn will appreciate your heartfelt and lovely comments. She has touch so many with just a few words describing her story. Robyn represents so many who suffered in silence never imagining that there we so many other who share her story or portions there of.

      Robyn is beautiful inside and out, a very special person who indeed deserves the best in life and I believe she will get it.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Brenda. I had a strange setback yesterday, something that rattled my confidence and overnight here you are, cheering me on! I love the way this world works and how our stories shared make our lives that much richer. Peace and warmth to you, thanks for stopping by. I can’t wait to go check out your blog. See you soon.

      • The universe is funny that way, sometimes a series of downers happen, but then a beautiful moment unfolds, helping you put all that negative energy in its proper tiny place. And letting beauty fill you up from within. Maybe it’s religion, maybe magic, maybe faith, but whatever is the ocean that keeps your boat afloat, it should fill you with beauty. 🙂

    • Yeah well someone had to set the record straight, I kept getting dragged into conversations where I was supposed to agree with the idea that there is no racism in Australia (works well at parties if you can get a black person to say that… lots of back-slapping and self-congratulations ensue…).

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by. One can never receive too many words of praise ;-). FYI, my current writing can also be found here http://jamborobyn.wordpress.com

      I see you are perhaps in the process of setting up a blog and I would be interested to find out what the plan is and hopefully read something???

  24. Truly one of the most inspiring and encouraging posts I’ve ever read. Period. I’m an African American man who lives in the Washington D.C. area, age 35, visiting Sydney on a Business. I wish I could give you a HUGE hug and tell you to keep your head up girl. You’re amazing AND Beautiful.. We fear what we don’t understand and you were obviously the Most Misunderstood in an extremely ignorant place. Thank you for having the openness to share.

    • Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and for stopping by. We have just been through a fear-based election campaign where it didn’t matter who won because the real result is that we have become afraid of absolutely everything. So ignorance is a necessity for the current political agenda/s (possibly all). A year ago people in Australia implied that I had made racism up or were remembering it incorrectly. This year people are approaching me about their challenges with racism in Australia, not just black and white all races. The first thing I tell them is that if they look around they will see that the outcome racist people are trying to prevent, multiculturalism, the great mixing of races and cultures, is already well under way in Australia. There are so many cultures here that ignorant people have to put special blinkers on so they can’t see what is before their eyes. I say to them and I try to say this to as many as possible, join in, everyone is welcome to the dance!

  25. I live in Vegas and while walking to the store someone yelled out their car “u niggar bitch” and I was born and raised from new York. I thought that type of racism\im was just n history books that’s when I was introduced to the world. im sorry we have to have these experiences., but im thankful for the lessons….www.alexisjones.info I have a radio show and id love to pick your brain

      • Can I just say it has changed… we have better laws but on a daily personal interaction level the law doesn’t come into it. Generally people are a lot less comfortable these days with saying, “no you’re not, where are you really from” when I say I am Australian. So I think we are still holding onto the old notions out of a sheer lack of creative originality.

  26. I have recently become captivated by the value of stories and storytelling thanks to the fiction series by Patrick Rothfuss called the Kingkiller Chronicles. One of my favorite lines by the main character is “There is some truth in every story”. And of course some stories have more truth than others. There is also a story the main character tells in his book that is a story of his people who are akin to gypsies who perform plays and circus like performances. Many people view their kind as thieves and brigands, but the people are not like that at all. They are honest, and they are artists, and their home is always with their people even if they put down their wagons in a different location. Everybody in the troupe is family. The story the main character tells is about an old man, penniless and hungry who makes it to a crossroads where many different peoples from different countries in the author’s world are camping. Everybody refuses this man’s pleas for some food or a place to rest except for the main character’s people. As he sits down in their camp and is overwhelmed by their hospitality he says “but I have nothing to offer in exchange for your kindness”. They respond “Every person has something of value to give and that is their story. Sit with us and tell us the story of your life” (I’m paraphrasing a bit here).

    So I just want to thank you for telling your story, and I’m sure you have many others. It’s odd that as I approached the end I saw the heading “The point is this…” and I was thinking one doesn’t even need this part, because reading your story was filled with so much depth, emotion, and value that I needed nothing else. You express yourself so beautifully and I thank you so much for letting people into your gigantic heart and letting us wander around in it. The best part is, this is only the first entry I’m reading.

    It is in amazing thing today with the internet. The way we are able to hear so many more stories of people’s lives, and we as a species can only benefit from it. It still requires one to thirst for such in engagement and that is perhaps the best thing we can instill in young people today. As someone who grew up in a time without the internet there is always a little bit of sadness to meeting someone like you in the blogosphere because I think about how much more amazing it would be to sit down and have a coffee with you. To see the expression on your face as you tell this story or any others. That face to face interaction will always be an important part of my life, but perhaps the young will not feel the same way since cyberspace exists as a normal other world for them.

    Your story is a chilling reminder about all those children who have remarkable gifts to bring to the world but who are suppressed by ignorance. Not just you, but I think about all those cruel children who never had a chance either because of the racism of their parents, for no child is born a racist. They lose by not engaging with you in a meaningful way. Of course as you point out there is no value in crying for opportunities lost, we simply have to move forward and try to make sure the same patterns don’t repeat themselves. Technology changes so much faster than the hearts and minds of people and it can be frustrating, but I firmly believe that every positive thought I put into the world can have a positive change in some way. And even the smallest of good change has value. Your story raised one question and I apologize if you’ve perhaps answered it in another blog. While it is clear you’re intelligent, often intelligence itself isn’t enough to come out a childhood like yours as positively as you seem to have. I was wondering who would you say was the most positive influence in your life? Was there a friend or a teacher, an adoptive aunt or uncle, somebody that sort of gave you positive support in your life? Did you come to all these realizations on your own as a young child. If so, I think genius is almost an understatement. And by the way I can completely believe if you did it all on your own, I was just curious.

    This comment is now almost as long as your blog post.  I am overwhelmed by emotion right now and so words cannot do my heart justice at this moment, so rambling is my best option. As others have mentioned a hug seems like the best plan of action, but since that is not possible you get all this instead. I look forward to reading more of your blogs and any future interactions with your beautiful mind.

    • Well, the first thing to say is that your response was a whole lot better than a hug. My response to your comment and to what I have been reading over on your blog for the past couple of days is still “cooking on the stove”.

      While you were writing this comment, a phenomenon that I used to experience quite frequently during my twenties occurred. My whole forehead became highly sensitized, I was so tired and I couldn’t think. I had to go to bed and oh boy, did I dream. I wake up and see your comment, think I have a busy day ahead so wonder where I will get the time to consider a response, phone goes off and people start cancelling the plans for today and I know. We all need someone to “ping” us to get to the next major understanding of ourselves. I am an opportunist and will take my learning however it comes because there is no-one, no-one consistently in my life who wants me to get where I am going, no-one who knows what the journey entails and what kind of person I am, in the flesh and in imagination. An absence of “duty of care” so I take on that role myself, because if I have made it through all this I must have found something that we all would like to remember, and when I get some words for it I want to share that as the outcome of all this living. “For all our relations”

      All my writing is for me, it is the form in which I like to distill my lessons, the things that I won’t remember when I am in too much pain but I have learned by passing this way before.

      This story however, wrote itself and gave itself life, it is like my child, I have a duty of care, but I don’t own it’s future. It will find it’s way to those people who want what it has stored inside. And for those who ventured here by accident and this story is too much or rings untrue in their hearts, “The point is this” is the off-ramp, it is there to allow people to pull back from the story if the “small child runs screaming from the house” as Rumi so eloquently puts it. Telling this story in person has shown me the kind of bewildered responses I can receive and spreading joy and hope is what I am about, not inexplicable sadness.

      I really want to have a conversation with you Swarn Gill, can you please magic one up?

      • I am extremely pleased that my comment was worthy of your amazing story. It felt so small in comparison to something so big that was placed on my lap. And now your response to my response is giving me that same feeling again. It’s hard to describe. Perhaps something like being starstruck. When you feel great admiration for someone and want to make sure you impress that person. It’s also a little trying to write a letter on a bumpy car ride. You know what you want to say, but you think it isn’t going to look pretty on paper. 🙂

        I understand the value of writing out thoughts and feelings. I have an alcoholic father and I was fortunate that at the age of 16 I decided to be brave and tell my best friend about it. I never had told anyone before. I am not sure why the thought occurred to me at that age, because nothing serious had happen. Perhaps I was going through one of those typical teenager thoughts of suicide, everbody has them, and I wasn’t a very depressed teenager either, in fact I was somewhat of a jokester. A class clown, but with good enough grades that the teachers didn’t mind too much. I remember thinking, what if I died, who would come to my funeral. Are the laughs I give enough for people to miss me? To me the jokes seemed very surface base and no one had seen my heart at all. I have never loved anyone other than family, I had never told anybody how sad my dad’s drinking made me, and how I felt about life. It is an extremely lonely feeling to keep things inside even if they aren’t happy things to say. I was so fearful to tell my friend that I was sweating, but when I did he of course responded like a friend and gave me great sympathy. More than that he had an uncle who drank a lot and it took nothing more than that for me to realize that I am not alone in the world with how I feel. In time I realized the more connections I made, the better I felt.

        When bad things happen to us there is always a part of us who internalizes that and thus telling people is so fearful because we worry that someone else will echo that sentiment and we will feel even worse. Then there seems to be this other part of that almost enjoys us being alone with that pain. It’s this weird rationalization that says “Nobody can understand how I’m feeling, what I’m going through is unique to me”. And I think why we like feeling that way sometimes is that it sort of makes us feel special. Even though one can agree that’s a pretty unhealthy way to feel special. I remember in a therapy session about some unresolved issues I still had with my father’s alcoholism where the therapist said “Well this is very common, we have some good techniques we can try for that”. I remember in the moment thinking “How dare he tell me my problems are like in some sort of textbook! I’m special and nobody is the same as me and they can’t have felt the same way that I do.” And certainly we are all special in our own way but we feel so many things similarly just dressed up in a different way. When you strip away the costume it’s those same feelings. When I would share my feelings and my thoughts with friends it become almost addicting because even hearing it come out of mouth sometimes made me realize I was being silly, sometimes I said something that I didn’t even know I consciously though. Sometimes the person I talked to just asked me a question I had never asked myself and I learned from that as well. Nobody is in a boat on the ocean by themselves…it’s cruise liner with tons of people and we’re all probably gaining too much weight from the buffet. 🙂

        The arcane arts still allude, but I’m still a little vague on how my face from my webcam can travel up to a satellite and back to someone on the other side of the world and look and sound like me. To me that seems like magic. In simpler terms I know how to you Google webcam chat or Skype. If that’s something you would like to do sometime I would be willing. We might even be able to have a beverage, even if the same waiter won’t be able to bring it to us. 🙂

      • Yes, yes, for many years I kept thinking I would find some person to tell my story to and they would know what I had been going through and I wouldn’t feel so isolated. I saw a therapist once when I was 16 and she cried so much I couldn’t go back, I couldn’t put her through it. That was probably the trigger to start becoming the person I needed for myself. Again though, that was the past and there is no reason to think that will be the future.

        Mostly I just write to myself, sometimes I am the listener, sometimes I am the teacher, the will to survive is so strong in me (despite my best efforts to tell myself it’s hopeless) that there are times when I have been literally willing to try anything to interrupt the cycle, to create space for new responses. Many, many years spent trying to change outside circumstances eventually teaches one that they actually don’t matter. We are defined by our responses, by the interaction between us and the environment, on good days and bad days. In the end it’s a game of more and less for me. What do you want more of? What do you want less of? In this moment and over time. What perseveres? Where is the centre of the unstable equilibrium? Does the centre need to move or do you need to move closer to it?

        Skype, Google webcam, internet, satellites: today’s magic. I should turn it on.

      • Swarn, at the end of all this I realise that the more I share my story, thoughts and feelings with others – the more they judge, the more they expect, the more they don’t really understand that all I have lived is with me forever, it has created unusual responses and patterns of behaviour and there is no way to get back to the pre-traumatised person that would have been. Sometimes you find people in life who can accept that about you but rarely and not for long. The story is a sacrifice, if I cannot contribute my personality, my light, my growth with the world, in peace, then I may as well share the events I have survived for that one person it might help, because for sure everyone around that one person has already given up on them.

      • I am thrilled that so many people can relate to you and your story and some even sharing similar experiences in various corners of the globe. Goes to show that people are people, good bad and other everywhere. Thanks again for writing and sharing and thanks to the commenters for keeping this story alive. With each new reader, it becomes a new experience that can actually be visualized with a clear picture.

  27. I really appreciate your courage and honesty about your experiences. I will be checking out your new blog and I am encouraged to hear that the past is staying in the past and that your outlook is so positive.

    • thank you so much jen. I must be honest and say that the past does pop it’s head up quite frequently but I ain’t dancing to that tune anymore, so I have freedom to play with my responses and to tell myself jokes about how serious I can get just because a long time ago some bad things happened. Most surprising is how doing something physically engaging, fun and demanding can divert the attention from morbid dwelling on the past. Teaching myself how to have a good time is the foundation from which the courage to share seems to have arisen. I hope you will write more on your blog so we can get to know you 🙂

  28. Hello, here is a link to my new blog http://jamborobyn.wordpress.com

    I am generally having a lot more fun with writing now, the past seeming to mostly stay in the past these days. If you want to see what effect all your support and kind words have had on my general outlook, please check it out and I hope it brings a smile. Take care everyone and thank you!

    Robyn

  29. I lay in bed reading your story that was posted by Lorraine with this feeling that I was reading a fictional story. It seems so surreal and yet I knew it was real. I lived in a childhood that seemed so off that it could be in a similar storybook but to read your story reminded me that I am not alone. As I read, I not only can imagine what you went through, I experienced some similar experiences. Not belonging, no protection and ultimately abandoned but thankfully no abuse. I am often told that I don’t ‘wear’ my past and I seem so ‘normal’. I find it funny that anyone would say that since I have never fit in a normal category and hate checkbox thinking and always feel a bit removed from being part of anything. I suffer the second generation family loss effects of an interracial marriage in the 50s gone bad. Two big families, no ties for the biracial children or their children like me. I love the’ other’ box put on the college forms because that sums me up and recently had the opportunity to check it, lol. Thank you for sharing yourself sister! ❤

  30. It sounds like you’ve had a pretty tough time, which I am sorry to hear, however after I read this I feel like I have to say it sounds like you stop yourself from reaching your full potential based on your race rather than in spite of it and those people who made you feel worse for being black. You seem to blame every misfortune based on your colour rather than what, at times comes across as arrogance which can be disliked no matter who you are. Maybe I just misunderstood some of the points you were trying to get across.

    I too am of African decent and yes I have experienced racism to a similar degree but I don’t blame my colour for the hard times I have been dealt. Maybe you aren’t alone because you are black but instead because you hate the fact you aren’t white.

    I am happily married now and I am sure if you opened yourself up you could find love too, you seem like you have a lot of love to give.

    I hope you don’t take this as an insult and I hope you find the love inside to accept you, because others won’t love you until you love youself

    • Yes Wendy I have been accused of blaming my life on the effects of racism, but you see there is nothing wrong with my life, so you may have assumed. In my comments it makes note of the fact that the story is out there without judgement, I only wanted to share how it was for me, not conduct a psychological analysis or act like a news reporter or a biographer. I have complete compassion for everyone who has participated in my story, but if you can tell me exactly which of these incidents (such as my adoption, the way my father was treated, discriminated against, etc) was not racism – then you are the scholar, not I and I am always pleased to learn.

    • Also I adore the way I have been made, so you might hate it but I don’t. The day I realised that I was just fine the way I was, is many years back and now I am glad I am 50% white and 50% black – I am not forced to take sides, merely to follow my heart. This is not a story that in any way, is meant to placate people who like to hide mistreatment – it doesn’t matter what name you give to it, Wendy, we need to call out injustice and not stand by accepting inhumanity and blaming the victim for doing whatever they have to do to heal.

  31. Hi Cecily and thanks for taking the time to read the post and share your point of view.
    You know, I cannot even begin to imagine comparing my situation to that of Indigenous Australians. I guess, to be fair to Australia in general, although the journey is not yet over there has been positive progress since the seventies and I pray that progress continues. I want to tell you that I am not political about any of this and I don’t consider the events of my life as particularly outstanding in either a negative or positive way. It’s just my life…

    I am sorry to hear that you experienced such challenges during your childhood, you certainly sound like a very strong and determined lady and I would love to hear how you overcame some of those challenges if you ever feel like sharing.

    Take care.
    Robyn

  32. Robyn, on so many levels, and not wishing to detract from your experiences, but your story strongly resonates with my own childhood and adolescence growing up in a primarily white institution (state care home) household in a white town in suburban UK. Just reading your story took me straight back to certain situations that happened in and out of school, and there were times when I found myself nodding my head and thinking ‘yes, I know exactly what’s coming next’… so I empathise completely. But I do believe, and know from experience that adversity makes us stronger and furnishes us with the skills to survive. And that’s the crucial thing, you’ve survived and can tell your story and I believe it will really make a difference to someone out there who might be going through the same thing. I thank you for sharing it. I’m not surprise however by the racism in Australia. This was, after all, a society founded on the decimation of its indigenous people, this is a society that tore indigenous mothers apart from their mixed heritage children, and a society that as recently as the ’70s still routinely poisoned the waterholes of indigenous peoples. This is a society in which indigenous people still face severe discrimination while ‘incomers’ from just about every part of the world are able to relocate and build new lives. The socio-economic and political marginalisation of indigenous people today remains one of Australia’s dirty secrets though one that for the most part, remains shrouded, and ignored by the rest of the world. I will never forget the spectacle of ex-PM John Howard lambasting the apartheid regime in South Africa at the same time that indigenous people in Australia were dying from lack of adequate healthcare, were being denied political voice, equitable educational opportunities and so on. Even today, indigenous Australians fare worse of all Australian groups on every single index of well-being.

  33. Hahaha Robyn,

    Adrianne George, founder of “Black Women In Europe” could have told you all you had to do was tell me and the word would be out. I just posted the link on my site and a few groups in Facebook. You will be getting friends and acquaintences of mine as well as the sisters on the network and friends of friends. We are pulling for you and by no means want you to be overwhelmed. You don’t owe a post everyday, but as your heart desires and moves you to write. Whatever you do, you will have a following because your story is heart-felt and so profound. We all have our stories and love to be able to relate or reach out to those brave enough to share their stories.

    Let nature take its course. You may find a few surprises in store. The main thing is that you are indeed a true survivor and have become a voice for some. There’s lots of glory and honor in that.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve come to know “race” in soul-deadening way, but I cannot even begin to imagine what your journey felt like. Kudos to you for making it and for succeeding.

    As to the title of your blog, that comment flung at you, a similar one was recently dosed out to me here in Holland, by a child no less. I didn’t even bother responding, but he knew that I wasn’t going anywhere, lol. I guess a look CAN kill, lol. I am a bit curious that you’ve chosen that negative, racist cooment as your blog tagline. It is so very defining, in a negative sense, I would think.

    I echo the others in saying that I hope that you have some interesting in making this into a media product, because for sure this is the sort of story that other people co-opt…and ruin. I’m a bit paranoid, but I think that you also need a Creative Commons license for your writings here.

    • Thanks for chiming in HummingLoon, the last time a group of boys yelled this out of their car at me, I was so surprised that eventually I ended up doubled over with laughter. I said to myself, “What are we doing back here? I thought we were past all this”, plus I was walking home at the time so I did feel like I was in a comedy. The other pedestrians around at the time were staring at me and trying to get some physical distance between us, so I just stopped walking until they could all hurry along their way.

      I chose that title because it is the consensus; the phrase that has been directed at me most frequently throughout my life. I do believe there are some people in Australia who wish I wasn’t here. If wishes were fishes… 🙂 I hope you understand that I don’t judge anyone or anything in relation to this post. No thing is always negative or always positive for me – just, at the time, what I can live with and what I cannot which has differed considerably through the various stages of my life.

      Yes I need to protect what I have done here, it is all original and a week ago didn’t exist. This was an offering to the sisters and brothers in the hope that sharing my story might help a little – other people’s stories are like lifeblood to me, just when I think I can’t go on I find someone who did and the unique way they did it and I am encouraged. I did not advertise the site at all – just sent it to Lorraine and posted it on BWIE, so I am overwhelmed and unprepared. Thank you!

  35. Dearest Robyn, Thank you for your transparency in sharing your pain, struggles, reconciliation and lessons learned. Racism is alive and roaring about the world but the love of God and those of a peaceful and compassionate heart can overcome such evil and ugliness. Please receive this cyber hug with the words “I support you!” May God continue to use your life testimony to inspire and encourage others. Peace, joy and love. Marilyn

    • You are so kind Marilyn. These days to keep myself in a good frame of mind, I consider that between myself and a racist person – I have the easier job. I only have to hold one set of rules for my interactions with humanity, I don’t have to feel guilty about the way I interact and I don’t have to fear repercussions from mistreating someone; ie. I have the option of peace.

  36. @jamborobyn: I cannot imagine such a painful youth and all the cruelty projected at you. I send you mega hugs and blessings. Know that your story is most important; and I agree with Lorraine, your story should be turned into a book as it is a necessary gift for someone who has gone, or will go, through such an experience. You are beyond blessed; and thank you for sharing.

  37. {{{HUGS}}} Robyn, your story truly touched me. People can be so cruel and that cruelty is magnified 100 fold in the eyes of a small child. Always remember, you are a child of God and he makes no mistakes. You are here in this world (there in Australia) for a reason, make no mistake about that — you have a story to tell to others who are also in your shoes and to those that persecute! Your story inspires hope and courage. I pray that you will continue your brave journey and that along the way, you will find LOVE, PEACE & TRUE HAPPINESS. You deserve it! May God bless you.

  38. I am VERY touched Robyn, at your survival, bravery and your ability to get through it. It has truly inspired me and I know you will be an inspiration to others. Please continue to share your story. It NEEDS to be told! Stay blessed.

    • Dear Wanda, thank you for your kind words. And to all of the ladies who left comments and the people who took the time to read this post. In a strange way, I actually FEEL hugged. You have each put a little light in my day 🙂

  39. Wow Judy, thank you! It was only a half-hour before Lorraine’s comment went up that I had a serious attack of cold feet and was about to take this post down, but it seems to have a life of it’s own 🙂

    • Robyn, you will put a light into many other days if you just keep writing… do stay in touch because we want to hear from you.

  40. Oh Robyn I wish I could be there just to give you a hug. What a powerful testimony and I don’t know how your truth could possibly offend anyone. I think you should expand this story into a book. I would buy it! Bless you Robyn, who knows just how many you may inspire with these telling words.

    • Thank you so so much Lorraine, I am usually pretty open about my history but writing this was a whole new heart-in-my-mouth experience. It just flew out of me and it’s done and I really do hope it helps someone.

      • Robyn, I am so touched by your story. Please consider expanding this into a book. It could help so many people. You write very well and should strongly consider doing more of it. I want to know more…

    • I totally agree about expanding this into book of some sorts. This was very heartfelt and left me wanting to know more details and more about you.

      • You are a very talented writer…you should definitely think about the book…this story would be a best seller…and I know…because I’m an avid reader and I know good ones when I see them.

      • quick one for you… I actually made a conscious decision one day to abandon all the demoralising conclusions I was drawing based on my life experiences and accept that I didn’t have a clue how to make sense of it all. So then I have this odd conversation in my head that ends up with “OK God, you’re clearly better at this than I am, you’ve got me, I’ll do whatever you want, no more second-guessing, make of me what you will – just please turn it into a good story in the end”! Literal LOL

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