Usually I would never write two posts in one day, in fact, I considered not writing this post at all and the fact that I actually post it is still up in the air.
Just after I posted my recent love song as I was so happily welcomed back into a city that I felt like was my home, I have to stop and think for a second; considering if anywhere in this world is welcoming enough to be called home as a traveler.
Today, Lorenzo and I were out doing our welcome back shopping, picking up all we need to get settled into our new home. As we headed across the street to the bus stop that would finally take us home and out of the packed streets of Broadway in Sydney. As bus after bus passed us by, and the time ticked past the scheduled arrival of the only bus that would take us where we needed to go, fellow passengers filtered in and out as they got on their designated buses.
Suddenly, there they were, three buses of which two could be meant for us. We began walking down the sidewalk and I looked back to ensure Lorenzo was behind me. Seeing as there were two of the same bus (obviously one was a bit behind schedule) I contemplated waiting in the line-up or heading back to the second bus. Sometimes in Sydney, when two buses hit the same stop they both stop in their place and let passengers board instead of waiting and pulling up to the stop properly. In light that we’d already waited ten minutes beyond our designated time, I assumed I’d rather head to the second bus and ensure we were on our way home. As I began walking through a steady stream of people I decided to be a conscientious girlfriend and ensure that Lorenzo was close behind but in order to do so I had to step out of the streaming path of the general public. As I did so I sidestepped directly into another pedestrian.
Oops went my mind and “I’m sorry, excuse me” went my mouth as the woman began shaking her head and sighing with exasperation.
She didn’t waste anytime turning on her heel to ensure that I knew the mistake I’d made.
Well, you stepped backward straight into me you stupid bitch!
I thought that only situations on the big screen warranted stunned silence with a person’s mouth hanging wide-open but I found at that moment that it happens in real life too. I hardly feel I can even call what happened next real life.
Lorenzo, hearing me being verbally abused let out a loud “Heyyyy” in an attempt to stand up for me, as I stood mouth agape unable to stand up for myself.
Go back to your fucking country, you fucking wog!
She yelled at the two of us in response. As she headed to the second of the two buses. All the while everyone else went about their business.
“That’s pretty racist of you”, Lorenzo responded, in an attempt to dissipate the situation.
Yea look at you, you fucking black! Was her only response.
Lorenzo looked down at his tanned arm,
“Really, I’m black?”, he asked in honest confusion.
You’re a fucking coconut, that’s what it is, she finished as she thew up a random middle finger, directed either at the bus driver who left her behind of Lorenzo and my own shocked and confused expressions.
As the second of the correct buses pulled up, Lorenzo and I turned to each other and simultaneously made the decision to foot the fifteen minute walk to Central Station rather than subject ourselves to further harassment.
It’s taken me until now, almost four hours later, and to be honest I’m still shocked. I can’t believe that no matter what kind of day you are having, no matter how someone has wronged you would you ever treat a human being that way. No matter their color, their status or what so-called mistakes they had made.
As we walked to Central, a disoriented and dirty man asked me for a dollar and if I had had it there with me I would have gladly given it to him just as a token of my own faith that no human, no matter how messed up, could be so bad that they don’t deserve to be treated as an equal.
I know that an act of racism means a million things, I know that there are horrible, disgusting things going on in the world. I know I’ll never truly understand the pain that some people must go through everyday but I hope that I know that I will never in my life believe that anyone doesn’t deserve to make a wrong step just based on where they come from of what color their skin is. The fact that I feel as if I was discriminated against as an American and Lorenzo as an Italian, by a fellow (white nonetheless) human being, someone who in bygones past could have been a fellow countrymen, baffles me. Both of us are descendants of immigrant cultures with Lorenzo a true Italian standing between us and there we stood, baffled at the accusation of being some kind of racial dirt.
And to think just that morning Lorenzo and I restored a young volunteers faith in humanity as we stopped and listened to her sales pitch instead of choosing to walk on by as everyone else.