I am indebted to Mark “Shadow” Davis, a Noongar man from Northam, for this story. He told it at the start of an important meeting with a Commonwealth government agency to illustrate the subtle nuances of racism; how they pervade every part of our expression and sentiment, even well-intended sentiment.

The school bus driver was fed up with the feuding and name-calling between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children on his bus. So before a school trip to the swimming pool for lessons one day, he waited as both teachers lined all the children up at the door to the bus. When the kids were in line and quiet, he stood in front of them.

“Right,” he told them. “Every day I drive this bus, I hear you kids bickering and calling each other names, and most of it has to do with colour: black or white. So, from today, there’ll be a rule on my bus. It’s that there’s no black or white. From now on, everyone’s going to be green.”

He stared at the children.

“So what colour are we all going to be.”

“Green,” they mumbled.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear you. Say it louder.”

“Green!” they called.

“Try it once more, as loud as you can. What colour will you all be?”

“GREEEEEEEN!” came the screeched reply.

“Good,” the driver applauded. “Okay, now you know my rules, you can get on the bus. Light green up the front and dark green down the back!”