This week something happened that made me feel really awful. And angry. And sad. All at the same time.
The dad of a family I teach died. He died in a horrible way – he fell off a balcony. Of course there are two sides to this story. According to police they were coming into the apartment. He panicked (and was taking drugs), and tried to climb off his balcony (on the 13th floor) to the balcony below (the 12th floor) to escape. He was wanted for various offences. He slipped and fell, and this is terrible. According to the community, he was chased. But the ending is the same. He died. It’s awful. His family and friends are angry. Really angry. And he’s Indigenous, so this community is still getting over Invasion Day (sorry – Australia Day).
I am really sad for his kids I teach. And for me, this part is black and white. They shouldn’t have to deal with this. You don’t choose your parents, or where you live. They should just be able to come to school, go home, sleep in a safe place. Be fed and loved. These kids I see are great kids. They are resilient, and full of personality. They have amazing independence. They are talented. This dad loved his kids, I know that. His kids loved him back. I am sad for these little people. Their lives have now changed enormously.
I am also angry. Because the picture of him that is being used in the media is horrible. I can’t help but think that is he was a white bloke from the Eastern Suburbs, or Rozelle, or the North Shore, they would use a different sort of picture. It would be really flattering. He would be surrounded by his kids. It would be the sort of photo that would make you think it was sad that he was gone. The photo of this bloke? I can see readers of the Daily Telegraph thinking that it doesn’t matter he died. It simply feeds into the stereotype of black-man-up-to-no-good.
And I feel awful. I feel awful for these kids. They have so many things thrown at them. So many hardships. So many setbacks. And it’s not fair.
It’s actually not fair. Not for them.