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October 19th 2009 print

Michael Connor

Tracey does whiteface

Tracey couldn’t make it for the Big Quadrant Bash. There was an emergency Fabian seminar she had to go to, to deal with Australian racism in the wake of the Hey Hey scandal.

Tracey couldn’t make it for the Big Quadrant Bash. There was an emergency Fabian seminar she had to go to, to deal with Australian racism in the wake of the Hey Hey scandal. The men had to bring sushi, and the ladies painted their faces white. Tracey said that whiteface has become very popular among the politically conscious. Zinc cream? I asked. Maybelline, said Tracey.

They also had to bring along short statements expressing solidarity with the victims of racism which they had to read out – like at school. Tracey still had a copy of hers and she read it out to me in Gloria Jean’s as we sipped our drinks.

Tracey had a Gloria Jean caramalatte and I had cappuccino. I’m something of a classicist but Tracey prefers the delicious toasty, buttery rich caramel syrup added to the latte which is then topped with creamy caramel sauce and served in a paper cup which resembles genuine plastic.

Tracey’s statement was pretty powerful and really got the seminar humming along, she said. Judging from the looks on the people at the other tables as she read it out I also think that they were pretty impressed:

There is a theory (to which I don’t necessarily subscribe) that the Hey Hey blackface was a dogwhistle, intended to signal to the put-upon, disenfranchised, Bolt-reading, foreigner-fearing slice of the populace that here at last is a show prepared to stay true to the attitudes of 1970s/80s Australia.

Did you make that up? I asked.

No, she said. I found it on the net. Lucky eh? I put it in my essay too, on One Nation racism in the 21st century. My supervisor will love it.

Unless she wrote it, I said.

After the speeches the Fabians all watched DVD reruns of Hey Hey, and booed. Tracey said it had been quite exhilarating until one of the men laughed out loud at one of Daryl’s jokes and one of the ladies, who lectures at the Art School, hit him with her glass of Merlot. She cut him badly but they didn’t call for an ambulance and the police, like last time, because one of the university professors said it would be bad publicity for pacifism and antiracism. Luckily the lady gynaecologist was able to stitch up the worst bits from some surgical bits and pieces and free samples she happened to have in her handbag. Tracey said it was generally thought to have been one of their best seminars.

Next time they are going to debate climate change. That sounds like a lot of fun, I said. Who’s representing the skeptics? I asked, but Tracey didn’t seem to hear.