Old Black Joe
Most of you will have heard that old US ante-bellum song of the "romantic" South written by white Northerner Stephen Foster. The chorus line is,
Those gentle voices sprang immediately to mind when I read the editorial in today's SMH about Frank Sartor's "inelegant" gaff.
The background. Frank Sartor, former Sydney mayor now State Planning Minister, wants to "redevelop" one of Sydney's inner city "boroughs", in the way of the growing trendy districts, known as Redfern. Redfern is inhabited primarily by Aboriginals and poor whites, most on some kind of public assistance or other, or so the reputation goes. It would not be too unkind to think of it, for context to this story, as a ghetto along the lines of, say, Watts in L.A.
Mick Mundine is an Aboriginal leader in Redfern. Sartor was on Koori Radio, an Aboriginal radio program, talking up his plans to revitalise Redfern and Aboriginal housing in particular and seeking community involvement in the process when he made the comment. "Get off your backside Mick and bring your black arse in here to talk to me about it." (Australian media has been rather precious about actually printing that quote, so I found it here: http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=3&art_id=qw1127204284764B223&set_id=.)
The apologies and apologists sprang immediately to battle stations, as you might well expect. Amongst the latter is this from the SMH editorial, entitled "Mr Sartor's inelegance" (http://www.smh.com.au/editorial/index.html):