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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

In The Town Where I Was Born

Andrew Ryan

Kalgoolie is the town where I was born. It's the town where my friend Matt once did a review talking mainly about how wide the streets were. It's the town me and my friend Lucy caught the train to, the train tracks getting struck by lightning on our way there. We waited in the carriages for extra hours until the tracks were ready to go again and ended up pulling in at midnight, our hotel closed, the main street all closed. We snuck through an open door and magically found a teenage girl wandering round in the halls in a nighty. She happened to know the owner, who showed us to our room late at night which happened to be the old ballroom, high ceilings, two nice beds for us, heaps of treats waiting the next day in the town, like the museum, chocolate cake with blue icing, spaghetti marinara served by skimpies, rain pouring down and then going away to just wash the town clean for most intense blue sky morning.

In some places, maybe even that hotel, if we'd been two black girls it might have been different that night though, us turning up at midnight as strangers on the loose. That's the truest, saddest fact. We might have been treated with mistrust. If it was a hundred and fifty years ago, Lucy, my friend who is Vietnamese as well as Australian, might not have been shown her room either. That's a true, sad fact too. I'm white, so here, everything's easy for me in terms of opening doors like that into a late night hotel. I only have to fear all men in general, but no-one else.

I read the long list in this New Matilda article about deaths in custody https://newmatilda.com/2016/08/31/the-kalgoorlie-uprising-a-rational-response-to-another-black-death/. They happen on and on and on. Non-white kids are in prison on and on and on. I'm glad all those people made noise and trouble too. I'm glad it wasn't just tears or destruction turned on themselves. All the shit writing in the West Australian passed my eyes at the coffee shop but I couldn't read it all because it turned my stomach, but yes, at every turn, the racism's just in there, in every line of the article, in every photo caption. It's what we all expect now.

Tomorrow Matt and I are running a workshop for Indigenous teenagers at a contemporary art institute about story telling in life and in art. It seems a ridiculous thing to be doing tomorrow, a day after a boy gets run down in the street and people worry about broken property. But we'll do our best to somehow do our best.