There goes the neighbourhood

I am excited, maybe even beyond excited. I’m a child getting an ice cream excited, in fact I’m a child eating ice cream excited. A mixed-race couple has moved in next door! Now wait, before you think that I have never seen or been in the presence of a mixed-race couple, let me assure you that my ignorance has been safely packaged and packed away. This isn’t about the mixed-race couple per se, it’s about how my neighbours are going to react. I need to grab a popcorn and settle myself into a comfortable position with a good view to watch the interactions unfold.

The complex in which Husband and I, and the mad mutant dogs live is small, and not just in size. We’re 10 units strong and Husband and are the first people of colour to have lived here. I have to re-read that last sentence twice before moving on because I am not entirely sure how that is possible some twenty odd years into our democracy, it’s a bit of a bland view of the rainbow nation we’re meant to be. Even I feel like I’m exaggerating and this is my reality. It is my reality that many of my neighbours have had minimal interaction with people of other races and are in fact terribly ignorant of different cultures and beliefs. It is this truth that sometimes drives me to laughter and in other times infuriates me. Laughter for the times when I’m asked about curry and whether “Indian people feed their children chillies from birth” and fury for when someone’s ignorance becomes insulting. My mother parks outside our complex, inflaming residents, lighting our WhatsApp ablaze with “concerned” residents posting messages about a “suspicious person” waiting to be let in and the words I had previously swallowed turn into a lead ball at the pit of my stomach and I’m ready to start a war. It irks me how anyone of colour is automatically assumed to be a criminal, I cannot understand for the life of me how the naturally friendly, outgoing woman that my mother is could be thought of as a criminal. And of course, my neighbours only had to look at her to deem her “suspicious”, maybe she has criminal looking hair? I wonder how my neighbours feel about the transformation I’ve seen in our neighbourhood in the recent years, with more and more people of colour settling around us. I know at best, that even after 6 and half years, our neighbours tolerate us at best, so naturally, I cannot wait to see how my neighbours are going to react to the new couple. The reception has been warm so far and I am trying to invent and excuse to get us all together so I can see how well the boundaries of that warmth holds up. Also I can’t wait for the newbies to be subjected to the uncomfortable questions and inappropriate jokes. It is a gleeful, hands clenched kind of excitement waiting for life to unfold in a small complex called Adelaide!