Love - The Mixed Race Marriage
This is the story of our parents - a true love story of being swept away, of finding the one, only to be faced with prejudice and resistance. This is the story of two people certain in their love and dealing with the fact she wanted to marry a ‘darkie’ and nobody except them, were happy about it.
They met when mum was fourteen and sitting on a bus going to a picnic with another boy. Enter my father; dashing, tall, dark and handsome. He locked eyes with her and the boy sitting beside her was ultimately forgotten. Mum has a big sister, Pat and her boyfriend - later husband - was dad’s mate, so getting together was easy. Both young men were welcomed into the MacDonald home and they visited often. Everyone loved Colin, he was well educated, funny and very respectful. He was a great sportsman and raced motorbikes. Loved a beer and a chat. He came from a good family who prior to the war, were wealthy business people in Singapore. Basically he was a catch.
He was a catch for an Anglo Indian, but not if you were a white Australian. Then he was considered a ‘darkie’. Being friends was one thing, being married a completely different story. In 1950’s Australia, interracial marriages were not exactly common. The union between a person of colour and a white was a hot topic of debate.. For our mother there was no debate.
She loved Colin Brown and she was going to marry him. On July 3 1955, that’s exactly what she did. Here’s the thing about our mother; she’s funny, loving, generous, highly talented and strong. Very strong. There was no way she wasn’t getting ‘her man’ and the family would just have to accept it. Eventually they did. They had no choice. Mum and dad’s relationship was fiery and passionate, built on each speaking their mind, often with explosive results yet somehow, always finding the way to make it work.
Dad lived in a white man’s world yet was forever tolerant and generous, even faced with prejudice. He was very cool like that. And oh my, he could cook. In a time and place where meat and 3 vege was de rigueur, we Browns were tucking into Vindaloo Curries, Beef Satay, Egg Fu Jong and Hungarian Goulash. And he made the best Mango Chutney in the entire world. These days in Australia, we think marrying someone of a different race is just a choice. It’s not up for debate or even unusual. We think that, don’t we. Our mum went to work one day and her colleague took her aside and wanted to discuss something very serious with her. It seemed that her daughter had fallen in love with a young indigenous boy and she was distraught about it. How would the family cope? How could they make the daughter see sense? What could she possibly do to stop this? She wanted mum’s advice and support. Mum stood there and listened until her colleague had eventually run out of expletives. She then turned to her and said “Have you seen Colin lately? He’s coloured”.
Her response: “Don’t be ridiculous, that’s just Colin”.
It seems being married to a ‘darkie’ is still not quite universally accepted.