The shoe?s on the other foot

By MEL MARTIN

HEARING of Susie (not her real name) and her children's experience, I wanted to see for myself what it was like to be a minority.

After all, I'm caucasian, of average height and build, with no standout features.

So I've been lucky enough never to have experienced prejudice.

Decked out in full burkhas I, and another staff member, headed out to two Coffs Harbour shopping centres.

While no comments were spoken directly to us, we did hear 'Here come some black heads' and got some fashion advice, and we noticed a few whispers.

But it was the stares that got to me.

I realise two burkha-clad women is probably not a very common thing to see in Coffs Harbour, but most people had a good look.

There were the curious stares, the up and down stares, the side-of-the eye glance, and the downright angry stares.

And then there were those who turned around for a second look.

To be fair, we also did get a few welcome 'hellos', but had I been receiving the same looks on any other days, I would have been checking whether my skirt was tucked into my undies or whether obscenities were written on my shirt.

All this made me feel very uncomfortable, and I really empathise with anyone who does not fit the standard mold ? whatever that might be ? and have to live with the attention every day.

John Howard and his terror scare campaign have a lot to answer for.



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