I usually try and embrace the positive when writing a blog post but today I was angered to the point of rage. I was walking through a shopping centre with my husband and kids earlier today and a teenage boy walked passed us and muttered to his mate, “Gingers have no soul”. For those who don’t know, my husband and all three kids have red hair. None of them heard what this kid said but I did.
I was so angry. In a nano-second I considered doing nothing but my mothering defensive instinct kicked in – this punk wasn’t going to get away with insulting my family. I turned around and yelled after him to repeat what he had said and come back and say it to our faces. The weak human that he was, he didn’t do this. His friend turned looking sheepish but they both kept walking. At this point I had two choices, pursue him or keep walking.
There’s too many crazies in the world and this moron could have been one of them so I chose to keep walking but I’m still angry.
I’m sick of the jokes and cruel nicknames about my kids because of the colour of their hair. The two that annoy me most are “ranga” and “gingers have no souls”. Ranga originate from “orangutan” and gained popularity when Summer Heights High gained popularity on ABC in the late naughties. Chris Lilley’s “Jonah” bullied a redheaded kid constantly calling him “ranga” and other names. Apparently it was funny to refer to a person as a monkey. When a dark-skinned person is referred to as an ape, they call that racism. As for the “gingers have no souls” statement, if you find that funny, I really don’t want to know you. Your soul is who you are, what makes you you, and to suggest someone doesn’t have a soul because of the colour of their hair, is just plain disgusting.
Now many people might say, “That’s life. Kids tease other kids all the time” and I get that. We try to build resilience in our kids and teach them about dealing with taunts but also not being mean themselves. There is a healthy amount of sarcasm and joking around in our family but never to the point of criticising the way someone looks. Joking around is fun but not when you hurt feelings.
Thankfully as my hubby has red hair, he’s walked in their shoes before and has always taught them to be proud redheads – it’s known as “red power” in our house. Good friends might have nicknames for him (Cheezel Dust is a favourite) but they are never mean, always in good fun and there is a trusted friendship established where the joking around is acceptable. I love nicknames – all my kids have them and
I usually have them for my friends and students too, but they’re never mean or derogatory.
To have a random kid walk past us today and say what he said just made me so angry. He didn’t have the right to say that about three little kids he doesn’t even know. He’s lucky my husband didn’t hear it. I told hubby afterwards and I’m happy he didn’t hear it because he too, was obviously enraged and probably wouldn’t have been as tolerant as what I was. My boys didn’t hear me yell after the kid (EB Games was far more exciting) but my 12 year old daughter asked me what the kid said and I told her. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. I reminded her of “red power” and we knocked knuckles.
I hope when my kids experience this kind of thing themselves when I am not around, that they can stand up for themselves with respect and dignity and walk away feeling strong. I hope they choose awesome.
Though Tim Minchin made light of the plight of a redhead in his song, Taboo, I still think people should think before they speak. Just like skin colour or sexuality, people do not have a choice of what colour hair they are born with. If you think it’s funny to call my hubby or kids “ranga” or say they have no souls, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. It just isn’t. Don’t do it. Don’t let your kids do it. Be kind. Choose awesome instead.