I Used to Be Racist

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I Used to Be Racist - Stuart McMillen. Parody of
I used to be racist. I used to be sexist. I used to be homophobic. High school boys sitting on a picnic bench.
Cartoon drawing of Australian schoolboy wearing a Billabong backback. My schoolyard reflected the casual racism of regional Australia in the 1990s. And I adopted the attitudes that I was steeped in.
Intolerant jokes were social currency among the boys I was friends with. We'd egg each other on, telling jokes that reinforced our prejudices. A way to elevate ourselves by bad-mouthing others. School boys on verandah of Queensland school.
The wet cement of bigotry piped into our young minds. X-ray of brain with liquid entering the brain.
Cartoon Australian school students boys, walking around the school grounds with backpacks. Rear view Dutch angle of schoolboys walking away from viewer, talking to each other.
Low angle of male school teacher wearing walk socks walking towards viewer. Australian school students playing handball in the background. Disappointingly, no adults challenged our views.
Drawing of adolescent boys laughing at a joke. This whispered-behind-the-back stuff continued unchecked for most of high school.
Cartoon illustration of Australian school bag rack area outside a classroom.
Drawing of Australian school yard, in front of Queenslander style high-set classroom building. Without an influential adult to counter-balance my attitudes, ...
Cartoon of Australian schoolboy student walking across playground. ... it was up to me to educate myself out of my own views, contrary to the local culture.
Cartoon of boy wearing Frenzal Rhomb t-shirt sitting cross-legged on bed. Lyrics by my favourite bands helped to sway me. To them, racists, sexists and homophobes were the ones to mock.
Cartoon of bed with CD covers piled on the doona near a stereo system. In a strange way, bigotry against bigots was the way I escaped the tunnel of thought.
View of large group of high school students exiting a class, walking towards the viewer. I began shedding my old views, through a process of self-examination, self-education. Around this time, my class graduated and we all went our separate ways.
Drawing of male school student wearing uniform and tie, with unsure look on his face. The wet cement in our minds began hardening as we each entered adulthood. I was working to siphon out as much of the bigotry as I could, before it set.
Group of young adult friends sitting on a balcony verandah, talking to each other at a party. I left town for the city. I found a whole new friendship group, and got a university education. I found tolerant friends who disapproved of racism and homophobia. The reinforcement circle worked opposite to the way it had on the schoolyard.
People arriving to a night time house party in a Queenslander house - cartoon illustration. Making it easy to replace bigoted views with tolerance.
High school friends sitting around talking. I sometimes wonder about my home town classmates. How their mental cement hardened.
Are they as embarrassed as I am, when they today reflect on their old views? Or did they end up with skull-sized slabs of bigotry?
Cartoon school boys on playground wearing backpacks walking towards viewer. My teenage views are at odds with my current progressive outlook.
Progression showing young Stuart McMillen in school uniform behind adult Stuart. But they're part of my story. It would be disingenuous to pretend I was always tolerant and enlightened.
Cartoon of Billabong backpack on table on school playground. My past gives me personal insight into the mind of a bigot.
Cartoon of side view of Australian school boy, with Rip Curl backpack on bench. My past gives me hope that today's bigots can too be reasoned with.
Cartoon of side view of Australian school boy, with Rip Curl backpack on bench. My past gives me hope that today's bigots can too be reasoned with.Cartoon of side view of Australian school boy, with Rip Curl backpack on bench. My past gives me hope that today's bigots can too be reasoned with.

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A comic about racism in Australia. Growing up in regional Australia in the 1990s, I adopted the casual racism of the schoolyard. As an adult, I had to educate myself out of these racist attitudes.

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16 July 2021

Hi Stuart, I am with the ABC and was interested in discussing a potential digital story with you about your comic - I used to be Racist. Please get in touch if this is something that you'd like to discuss. Cheers, Rashmi


30 May 2018

Refreshing! Also love the background illustrations.


17 May 2018

That same album did the same thing to me!!


17 May 2018

I share a lot of similarities with you here. I am also from Bundaberg, and also used to be racist, sexist & homophobic. I also draw. I'm 31 this year. But I went to Kepnock...


11 May 2018

Keep up the good work Stu! I just received your post cards, I was in Cuba for a week and it really re-opened my eyes to the fog that IG etc. had spun around me like a spider's web. Hopefully I can come to Australia some day and we can meet in person, I think you and your art work are wonderful! I will spread the word, from the rooftops of Seattle and beyond. Thank You, Emilyapple


10 May 2018

This is so honest and (probably) a lot of people's experiences.

Tiago Vieira

10 May 2018

Hi from Portugal. I have been following you for some time now and i really hope this is not some SJW stuff. If it is, i will still be following your stuff, but it is a pitty indeed.

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