Monthly Archives: August 2016

Racism in Medicine

Story Sharing…

I was in my hospital bed and my stitches, started to burn, l looked down and blood was coming out, I called for the nurse and she put padding on it and went off. I was waiting for her to come back and attend the bleeding, when I had a lot of pain. I clenched my teeth and waited and waited. I was in tears but I was sure that the nurse was going to come back. I was waiting for ages, the blood had seeped through the padding and I was crying and moaning in pain. I pressed my buzzer and a nurse finally attended to me, I told him what was happening, he called the first nurse over and said they needed the doctor. I asked for  something for the pain. I was told to just wait until the doctor came. The first nurse went to get somethings and came back with the doctor.

The male nurse asked about my pain. Doctor said that I can’t have anything for relief. I thought this meant that I was going to go back into surgery. The first nurse said that I had already had some pain relief. I said I hadn’t and that could I please have something. I was laid on my back while they poked and prodded around the stitches, I was flinching because of the pain. I was told to just lie still and to not move. I was told that I was making things worse by moving around.

I cried and cried I was screaming in pain. I said I needed something. The second nurse said he would get some paracetamol to help. He checked my chart, and saw that I hadn’t had any pain relief and that I should have had medications before. He asked the first nurse if she had given me my medications. I could see by the look, that she knew she hadn’t and that she just didn’t worry about me.

The doctor allowed my my medications, which included a blood clotting tablet. I know its because I’m black. You might not think so, but trust me, it was a black thing. All black people know the feeling. 


Racism What Is It?

A lot of talk about racism lately and I am going to put my two cents worth in. Actually I am probably up to about $199 by now.

Lets start easy. Racism is a about race. It is a hate of a race, not a religion, or sex.

Here is Uncle google’s definition:

The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
“theories of racism”
  • prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Bigotry is about everything, sex, race, religion, locality, any one who has a different ideal than you.

Uncle google says:

intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.

Now we have that out of the way, let me express that I have seen racism get worse, but not outright racism, this new racism, it is spoken softly and quietly almost like the voice of reason. for example the people who declared that the cartoon in the Australian, wasn’t racist, it was a way of showing the problems in Aboriginal Communities.  The people who couldn’t watch 4Corners because it was distressing. Really? It was distressing, but more reason to watch it to see what was happening to Aboriginal kids. The voice that says the cartoon opened up discussion and was the driving force behind the #Indigenousdads. No his racist cartoon was not something to be applauded as a way of opening up discussion. All that did was reinforce the outdated stereotypes of Aboriginal people.

I see the racism on social media. When Aboriginal people are posting for a Royal Commission into the Northern Territory Detention Centres (which is happening) and others are using the image to push their own agenda. I know there are problems with detention on Manus and Nauru, but don’t use our misfortune to push for a RC into those. That is a soft racism, a way of saying that others are more important than us. The better way is to say that both situations are pretty crap.

I have seen people on twitter saying horrible things about Aboriginal people, but they are not racists, because they want to bring the detainees from Manus here. I want the detainees out of what I consider a prison. But you cannot say you are not a racist if you don’t stand by us as well. That is racism.

It is bigotry if you stand with us and want to be an Aboriginal ally and yet disparage  Muslim people. It is racism if you are our ally and dislike Asians. The terms lately have been blurred and a lot of this is because of the subversive racism or subversive bigotry.

Every time someone does something to an Aboriginal person, it is an attack that we all as Aboriginal people feel. To say it’s not racist is then belittling our feelings. I have heard politicians say that it’s only offensive if you take offense. Yet, every time I use the term white, I get accused of being a racist. When I point out they use black, they say it’s not racist because that’s what I am. Go figure that one!

Every day I face racism and hate because I am an Aboriginal. I also cop flack because I am a woman, a woman raising kids alone ( yep I am a dirty disgraceful bludging single mum). I have a disabiltiy, a brain tumour and injuries caused from treatment ( cripple, get to the nursing home). So I have heard it all. But even though I have heard it all I still get hurt by it. I am saddened for the state of this country. I wonder about what my parents and grandparents fought for? Have things changed enough? My kids have dealt with the hate. My son studies criminology and has been doing a unit on profiling, yep he covered racial profiling and how it is used by our police and health departments. But any person who isn’t white middle class will tell you that they aren’t surprised. You are automatically locked into a box by your colour, race, religion and suburb. I know some might not think that suburb is relevant, but it is if you come from the poor and suburbs, look at “Struggle Street”, that was purposely set in a low socio economic area.

Racism and bigotry are becoming the norm in Australia, and if you don’t believe me just listen to talk back radio or check out social media.

 


They thought I was on Drugs

I am sharing another story from a reader.

I went to hospital in an ambulance because I collapsed at work. I was in the ED and I was in pain. The nurse was doing her business and asked about my pain. I told her I was in pain on the scale it would be 8. I was left alone as she went around to other patients. Finally a doctor came over and she prodded me. She pushed around parts of me and asked if it hurt. I told her it hurt like the dickens. She went away. The nurse came back and asked me if I wanted a drink. I was happy to have a hot cup of tea, sweet lots of sugar in it. I couldn’t keep the tea inside of me. I called for a nurse to come and help me before I was sick. The nurse said she would come as soon as she could. It was too late. I made a mess of myself and was shame. I had vomit down the front of me. I tried to reach for a towel or blanket to wipe it off. Make myself clean and presentable. I couldn’t reach anything. I tried to get out of the bed. When I stood up the pain came flooding back and I ended up on the floor in pain. I called out for the nurse. She said she was too busy and for me to get back into bed. I tried to get back in that bed. But every time I reached up and tried to pull myself up I had pain. It was so bad that I blacked out. I kept on falling back on the floor. I was lying on the floor in pain. The pain was getting worse and I started to cry. I cried and cried. I started to call out for help. The nurse came and looked at me and shook her head and walked away. She called for a hospital orderly to come and help lift me. While I was waiting I was sick again, from the pain. The pain was just worse and worse. I could hardly breathe. I just wanted to die. I think dying would be less hurtful than the pain I felt. The orderly came over and he laughed at me and picked me up and put me on the bed. I asked for something to clean myself. He laughed and told me that I must be used to this. He called me alkie. I told him I wasn’t a drinker. He and the nurse laughed. They laughed really horrible. They said they hear that all the time. That they are used to it. They know a drinker when they see one. I was crying again. I was crying with shame of them thinking I was a drinker. The doctor came back. The orderly said that I was homeless and drunk. Nurse said she thinks I am there for drugs. I didn’t know what to do. I was so hurt. I was covered in my own mess. I was shame. I was in pain. The HLO  (Hospital Liaison Officer) came in. He knew me. He said gidday and asked them about my medication and if my tumor was the reason I was in hospital. The doctor told the nurse to find my information. He read it. He said he was sorry that I was treated like I was, but that too many people come in late looking for a bed to sleep in or drugs. I don’t want to go back to hospital. I know I will die there. They won’t care for me.


Robbed Again

I like so many people was just so excited and happy for USA swimmer Simone Manuel. I agreed with the media explosion. The pride African-Americans felt at the first individual Black female to win a Gold Medal in the pool. Why was this so important to African-Americans? segregation. Yep that old devil racism. The United States like Australia had apartheid.   African-Americans were not allowed in the pools. So to have a short history of involvement with the sport was wonderful.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37057236

I didn’t think of Australia and its similar history until sitting in the hospital today, talking to the lady in the bed next to me. She said “We were robbed of our chance to celebrate our first Black female swimmer”.  She is right. We as a people didn’t know about Sam Riley and her history until after she had blitzed the pool

Samantha Riley won three Olympic medals during her stellar career: a silver medal in the women’s 4x100m medley relay in Atlanta in 1996, and consecutive bronze medals in the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1992 and 1996. A dual individual world champion and a successful Commonwealth Games competitor, Riley was one of the most popular swimmers of her era. She competed in three events at both Games she participated in: the women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay. In 2001 Riley discovered her indigenous heritage after determined research by her mother Lin, who was given up for adoption as a newborn. Her heritage means Riley is the first Australian Indigenous athlete to win an Olympic medal. Australian Olympic Committee.

http://web.archive.org/web/20060827071630/http://www.ausport.gov.au/isp/medallists.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantha_Riley

Sam found About her Aboriginality after she had won for us. She and her mother have embraced their heritage and Sam Riley is involved with swimming for Indigenous kids.

But the lady in the next bed had a point. We were robbed. First Sam and her mother, being robbed of their heritage, her mum is part of the Stolen Generation. But then we couldn’t celebrate a wonderful milestone for Indigenous people.

We need all those moments of pride to help us face the hate from the rest of Australia. It helps our kids hold their heads up a little higher to point out Indigenous people who are slaying it. Kids oh hell even old people like me, love to support our own. We like to find that connection and we want our mob to do well. It doesn’t make up for all the times we are told we can’t do it, that we are not worth it. But it helps us get through it all.

Canadian Aboriginals and Native Americans tend to get overlooked like us, but they have been representing their countries and people’s for a lot of years.

There are too many for me to list, so follow the link to find out. Yes even in the current Olympics they are doing their mobs proud.

http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/sports_heros/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/canada-s-1st-indigenous-olympic-gold-medallist-not-recognized-family-says-1.3046786

Yep I agree we were robbed of our moment. But good on you African-Americans. Go out and Celebrate every achievement.

 

 


Health Issues

How could this happen?’: Indigenous health tragedies spark search for answers

Aboriginal Health Matters is using the law to highlight medical mistreatment based on policy failures, bias, or racial profiling

This is the link to this story in the Guardian, written by Melissa Davey

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/12/how-could-this-happen-indigenous-health-tragedies-spark-search-for-answers?CMP=share_btn_tw


A new slant on an old story

I was at the Byron Bay Writers Festival and I met some lovely older ladies. We talked and I shared with them my experiences of government policy in Australia affecting Aboriginal people.

One told me  that she was in her seventies and the story of when she was a child growing up around Carlton and how she knew some Aboriginal girls from the one family. She said that they never came over to her house when she invited them and they never invited her to their house, she asked why?

I explained to her that the policy of the day meant that the family was probably checked on by the government bodies, in Queensland the Protector. I said that the girls would have been stopped by the police if they had gone to her house. It would have been assumed that they wanted to rob some one or that they were being cheeky. The woman who shared this story started to cry, and she said. “I didn’t know. they were my friends who has the right to decide that they shouldn’t come to visit me”.

Another lady in the group then told a story from the 1960’s while she was living in Queensland. She asked, is that what would have happened to the boys, my son’s were friends with? They played football, and my husband was the coach. Once a month the team came to our house for a Bar-B-Que. The Aboriginal boys never came. They came to training and games and went home. They didn’t have the boots and shorts, but with our house there was plenty of spares for anyone who needed them. My sons never went to their house. Those boys lived in the area where a lot of Aboriginal families lived. I remember one day the father of one was sent to jail. He was working at the property next to us, never knew what happened, neither did the family he worked for. The police took him one night when he was working late on the hay. I remember him saying he didn’t do anything.

I told her that the boys were probably not allowed to go over to her house, if they got caught, they would have ended up at the police. So the families probably didn’t let them go, because it was much safer. I said that the father was probably arrested for being out of the Aboriginal area after the set time and that’s why he was arrested and the family he worked for didn’t know what had happened to him.

Lastly one of the ladies told me of the story of her friends at school back when she was little in the 1950’s. She and an Aboriginal girl were mates, the mum came to the school fence at lunch with tucker for the kids, and anybody else who didn’t have a feed. She said she would pretend to not have lunch as she loved the johnny cakes and syrup. She said one day when she walked to school, the kids didn’t come out to met her. The family was gone. The police were in the area the family lived and that she was told to get along to school and not worry about the (not going to write the word, but I think you can guess it).

I told her that her friend was probably moved to a mission or out of the area. That that was the sad reality of Aboriginal people.

These women were touched by Aboriginal people in their lives. They didn’t know or understand what had happened to these people they made connections with. It is something that could have easily turned into racism. But with these women it just left them bewildered as to what was happening.


Subversive Racism

“Yeah you just go ahead and pretend that you can’t see me”. This happens a lot at shops, I can stand there and be completely ignored while other customers get served ahead of me. I have been the person at the meeting who says something, a great idea, but no one comments and then a white person says the same thing, and everybody loves it.

You might think that I am being paranoid or overreacting, but I am not. This is a reality of Aboriginal people. We face racism on so many levels. Out right racist, like Pauline Hanson,  are something we deal with all the time, you know where you stand and you argue your point of view. But the hidden racism is a lot harder to fight.

How do you fight the system that leaves you out? How to you gain real equality when you are profiled and stereotyped. As a patient, I have been denied pain relief because of the colour of my skin. I have had medical professionals assume that I drink and take drugs. How do you fight against an entire health system? How do you deal with the police that pull you over because you are a black person in a new car? Don’t think it doesn’t happen because it does, it has been happening for years. Myself and my children have all been stopped by police and questioned about what we are doing and where we are going. I worry about my son as he is a very big black man, even though he knows his rights (he studies law and psychology). He knows that when cop asks something, he answers and hopes the cop is in a good mood. Last year, my son had an asthma attack in a local park, before the ambulance arrived the police came to check on the situation. When the ambulance arrived my son’s breathing was settling down, he sat in the Ambulance on the ventilator and then decided that he didn’t need to go in the ambulance to hospital, that I could drive him. His choice you would think, but the officer told him to go in the ambulance or go in the police car. What kind of choice is that?

Being denied housing when trying to rent is a common thread. We show up to view the house and then suddenly the house is already taken! This is one of the most common complaints about institutionalised racism. To be honest it also has the follow on effect of housing problems.Don’t think that we don’t have problems at school. We get bunched into the class of kids that the schools don’t think will achieve anything. Our kids are pushed into not doing academic streams, not because they can’t handle it, but because it is assumed that we won’t be able to handle it. I have argued for my children in the education system to do academic stream, I had a teacher tell me that most Aboriginals don’t go to university. Like they know all about us!

What effect does this hidden racism have on Aboriginal people? It gives us low self-esteem which can lead to anxiety and depression. It makes us feel alienated and left out of our own country and our own lives. We have no say in what goes on around us, as we cannot participate in it. The demoralising of our children from a young age, knowing that they don’t just have to fight the open racist, but they have to fight the system. A system they have to be a part of.

Everyone can do a bit to break down the walls of subversive racism. If you are white, you can make sure where you work, doesn’t do this, look around you and if you see something happening stop it or step in. It’s not hard to say ” That lady was first” when shopping, When you vote, ensure that you are not voting for a bigot. Read about Aboriginal people and I am not talking just the negative stuff in the papers but positive and novels. Get involved in local activities to show your support and be willing to learn. I know these are simplistic, but hey you have to start somewhere don’t you?