We’ve all been there: You’re walking in a park or sitting at the movies, and you overhear someone saying something downright awful.
It might be something ridiculously sexist, astoundingly racist, or maybe just so generally insensitive that you can’t help but be like…
“Does that person know it’s 2016?” you ask yourself in disbelief, grasping at the small sliver of faith in humanity left in your soul.
Last week, while eating lunch at a restaurant, Jarred Wall had a similar experience except the awful thing said was about people like him.
Wall, an Australian who is aboriginal, overheard two women saying some terrible stuff about those in his community.
“Food was great but to our misfortune we inadvertently heard two elderly ladies, seated next to us, chatting about aboriginals,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “The conversation was less than distasteful with words like assimilation thrown around willy nilly.”
Though the women’s comments stung, instead of unleashing a “tirade of abuse” in response to their words, Wall wrote that he decided to take the high road.
He bought a pot of tea for the women, and left a note on the receipt: “Enjoy the tea! Compliments of the 2 aboriginals sitting next to you on table 26. :)”
In other words, he fought their hate with a simple act of kindness.
Racism against aboriginal Australians may be a foreign concept for some Americans, but it’s a very real thing in Australia.
Research suggests systemic racism against indigenous aboriginals is a “persistent but hidden phenomenon” in Australia, particularly in the workplace.
Similar to how Native Americans still face widespread oppression in the U.S., Australia’s aboriginals face unique hardships in the predominantly white, westernized society in which they live.
According to Annette Vickery of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative, discrimination against Australia’s aboriginals is “an invisible barrier wherever you go.”
“It’s on every front,” she said, The Age reported. “From being included in a mainstream school to accessing normal services that everybody else accesses, to employment, personal loans, housing, private rentals, even accessing a restaurant.”
“It is debilitating to people experiencing [racism], because it is like fighting shadows; always there, but hard to prove.”
Wall’s experience, although unfortunate, isn’t unique.
Wall ended his Facebook post with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which shows just how global the movement of communities fighting racial injustice has become.
Including #BlackLivesMatter which originally launched as a means to end systemic racism in police forces across the U.S. was a powerful way to highlight that racism isn’t just an issue for a single community. Racism takes many forms across many communities around the world, and we should be unified in fighting them together.
#BlackLivesMatter has, at the very least, started a worldwide conversation about how we can get better at ensuring equality for all members of every society in every country and on every continent.
For Wall, his simple act of generosity worked to counter racial bias on a much smaller scale yet it’s proving to have a global impact: His post has been shared nearly 3,000 times with users around the world.
Wall said he simply wants to motivate others to think twice about the impact of their words.
“They were elderly ladies, I didn’t want to humiliate anyone or cause conflict,” he told Mashable of the experience.
But “maybe these ladies will be a little wiser and think before they speak,” he wrote in his post. “Hopefully there won’t be a next time!”