Publication Details

Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2007). Kin-fused reconciliation: bringing them home, bringing us home. Australian Humanities Review, 42 1-18.


At the height of the 1965 Freedom Rides through New South Wales, a violent demonstration of angry whites confronted students and local Aboriginal people as they tried to gain entry to the racially segregated pool in Moree. It occurred to one of the local organisers of the protest (Alderman Bob Brown) that the absurd thing about the violent demonstration was that most of those participating (on opposite sides) were in fact related to one another: a huge number of people in Moree are related, they may not be registered down at the registry office. the stupidity of it was that it was cousins and uncles pitted against their nephews, it wasn’t totally isolated racism at all, it was an absolutely stupid thing and that’s what stuck in my mind (Brown qtd in Perkins:1993). A similar thing happened in nearby Walgett. In a re-enacted version of another clash between white and Aboriginal residents, an Aboriginal woman called out to a white person in the opposing crowd: ‘What did you say your last name was?.That’s mine too.you wanna go and ask your father where ‘e used to spend his Friday nights, out there at the mission with my mother, that’s where ‘e was.’ The effect of this revelation of shared paternity is described by Charles Perkins (student leader at the time of the Freedom Rides): ‘The white women couldn’t believe it so they turned on their husbands and they all started arguing amongst themselves and the crowd just disintegrated.the message was very clear for everybody to hear. After that discussion Walgett was finished, it had no answer to racial discrimination’ (Perkins, 1993).