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An Aussie Reflection on the US Election


I have, I suppose, more emotional feelings about your election legacy than most Aussies. I lived in the US of A twice during impressionable years of my life. Now I am eighty, very healthy in body and mind, and I feel it important to say something!

In 1960 I lived in a black ghetto in Cleveland for one year, where my husband Jim was the pastor in a small Black church—part of the Inner City Protestant Parish, based in New York. I was pregnant when we arrived, and our daughter was born three months later. That year, at twenty-three years of age, was one of the most profound times in my life thus far.

Everyone was Black—my dentist, hairdresser, supermarket staff—absolutely everyone in my neighborhood was Black except Jim, me, and our daughter Rebecca. The significance of that year really awoke in me the plight of my own Indigenous people: the Aboriginals, and set me off on a very different pathway when I came ‘home’ in 1962. I saw first hand how the Black community kept itself in community and deep love.

When we lived in Cleveland, we noticed that in general, Australia was a foreign mystery. Any news about it was on page 13 of the Plain Dealer, if there ever was any Australian news. This was probably good for my growing up as it told me that you can live without home comforts.

Rebecca as an American citizen, has voted in every election since she was a young adult, and now she is in her mid-fifties. Later my family (two more children added, born here in Oz) lived in the States for many years, based in Chicago with the Ecumenical Institute, which later morphed into the Institute of Cultural Affairs. I have met the most outstanding people in my two times of living amongst you and still correspond with many of them. There is much to admire about your beautiful nation; thank you so much for that.

I reckon that what lies ahead for your nation is what lies ahead of all of us in white-dominated societies around the world. We must listen to the voices of the poor, those left out, those never listened to, especially people who are not white, and, yes indeed, those who are white and really having it tough, since the manufacturing arm of society has disappeared. The list is a very long one—these folks who have been forgotten.

Yes of course there are many in some parts of our cities right here, too. Surely what happened in your nation has happened with Brexit, and in parts of France, and in other European communities. Unless we Aussies get moving and re-think some of our assumptions, right now, we are already going down the dangerous pathway you have trodden

Climate change is the number one issue. Here in Oz we are now receiving climate change refugees from the Pacific; already their homes are underwater, with sea levels rising. May God help us all. (In practice this means our bodies on the line, and action in community. And forget racial divisions.)