It had been a long, hot day by the time Jake and I arrived at a far north SA town where we were to stay overnight before heading home the following morning.
Unpacked and cleaned-up we did what most blokes in an outback town do after a long, hot day: we headed for one of the town’s two pubs.
In we walked, heading straight to the bar I couldn’t help but notice that all eyes were on us.
“I wonder why everyone’s looking at us,” I whispered to Jake.
“Think about it,” he replied. “You’re a white fella walking in with a black fella.”
Jake, as you’ve guessed, is Aboriginal.
Our cool reception nonetheless disturbed me. Jake was a talented footballer and cricketer who back home was held in high esteem. Jake couldn’t walk down the street without people wanting to chat to him about last week’s game. This was the exact opposite.
Back to the story…
After a drink and a meal, we headed off to the other pub in town – a new place – where we’d planned to catch up with workmates who were also passing through.
And what a much nicer place it was… until we left to head back to our motel.
Walking through the reception area we saw a young Aboriginal girl being abused by three drunk, young white blokes. Their language and insults were disgusting.
”You’re nothing but a half-caste bitch.”
”You’re probably a slut.”
”People like you are better dead.”
And on it went. It was vile.
The girl, as you would imagine, was distressed and in tears.
Then one of the blokes saw Jake watching the proceedings, walked over, stood in his face, and shouted, “What the fuck are you staring at, ya boong?”
I squeezed in between them, stared at the other bloke, and came out with something passive, “Hey, lay off him. How about we get out of here and go our seperate ways?”
And off we all went. Jake and I headed to our motel while I assume the aggressors went to the other pub to continue with more mayhem.
At 2am I was awoken by a knock on my door. It was Jake. He was crying.
”What the hell’s the matter?” I asked.
His answer floored me: “I’ve never had a white fella stick up for me before.”
(Damn near brought a tear to my eye, too.)
To me, it was just an incident. To Jake it was something stronger. My one small action seemed to help to right a lifetime of wrongs.
So I’m voting Yes for Jake. And the tens of thousands like him.
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