I refuse to buy ‘COON’ cheese…

…it’s a personal choice. If you’ve time and a need to know – I’ll share the ‘Why’ with you.

Many people ask me: “What’s in a name?”

The answer of course is: “Everything!”

Words carry meaning. Words carry feeling. Words tell people who and what you are, and despite the old “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but Names will never hurt me!” ditty; words – specifically Names – can most certainly hurt you

A person can make ANY word sound like they’ve just ‘hoiked’ it out of the back of their throat, and they can spit it at you with such accuracy and venom – it’d fair make your eyes water and your ears bleed! It’s a human trait – we know how to hurt a person this way. Any word; dressed up with the right tone and delivery, can find a weak spot in anyone’s mental armour system. I have worked with teachers and parents, who are grand masters at this game – and mostly –they don’t even realise they’re doing it.

I grew up with tags such as the one above, and have probably heard all possible connotations of such a name. Surprise, surprise – mostly they’re not pleasant – they of course were never mean’t to be. Along with Abo, Boong, Nigger, Spook, Scrub Ape (although I have to admit THAT was a recently new one)… the list goes on I’m sure. All names designed to dehumanize the likes of me and my mob, to put down those of us who are of Aboriginal or Islander descent – and are not ‘White’.

‘Blackfellas’ aren’t alone here, ask any person of Irish, Scottish or Welsh descent. I’ve heard ‘Paddy’ used as effectively as ‘Coon’ in an attempt to remind an Irish fella I was drinking with once, of his place amoungst his ‘betters’ (Them being of English blood apparently). Needless to say – it didn’t go down at ALL well, we made it out of that pub with little more then torn shirts – three English sailors didn’t – and not by my hand I can tell you – they paid for the fact that their big mouths got them into a whole world of pain (and I wasn’t all that sympathetic to their cause surprisingly) – he did it well, that fella – and I received a whole new education. This was the first time I’d seen ‘Whitefellas’ turn on another ‘Whitefella’… my education was growing. ‘Paddy’ then explained, and my world of simply just ‘Black and White’ fell clean away.

Words designed to hurt a fella, are more often then not used with pin point accuracy, and for a reason. People who add booby traps full of horribly barbed bit’s to their words know EXACTLY what they’re trying to say, and why they’re trying to say it. Words can be downright deadly in the right (or wrong) environment. Words do indeed hurt – it just depends on how you might look at this – thing. Racial hatred or mistrust based on the colour or culture of a fellas ‘skin’ is a frightening thing to witness or suffer. I feel for any fella who has been on the receiving end of such an attack – it’s designed to hurt you quick and ugly. A racial slur is the verbal equivalent of a nasty drunken brawl in a back street or alley. It’s fast, furious and has quick results – none of them pretty, all of it quite sickening. I refuse to enter into it. It’s a world I simply won’t given any time too. Allowing those words into my life means I give them some credence, and I point blank refuse to allow this to happen. Hence my aforementioned stand – the gut’s of this blog.

I dread one thing above all others now that I have a newly born son. The first time he comes home to me and asks me what the word ‘Coon’ means will break my heart. Don’t let the fact that my son is almost as white as ‘the next bloke’ fool ya, it’ll happen – it’s just a matter of ‘When’. I at least can help him come to terms with this bulldust – I’ve lived it myself, and have learned how to deal with it.

Now understand that I’m more then aware of this now being a two sided affair; both blackfellas and whitefellas alike can use names to hurt people, it’s true. But I’m willing to bet there are more words in the English language to put down ‘blackfellas’ in this country, then there are in our many languages to put down a ‘whitefella’. In fact – the saddest irony of all this is that ‘blackfellas’ have to use English to achieve this – and more often then not it one sharp statement – You F-ing white C…! Not overly original I know, but really unpleasant, and it get’s the desired effect. It’s designed to hurt see, and it does so with unerring accuracy.

I love Australia. I am of this country, and I belong here. I received some very ‘pointed’ lessons in my life as I grew up, where others would reinforce the notion of my place in the ‘scheme’ of things, and I fear the fact that my son to will have these ‘reminders’ forced upon him given time. I wish it wasn’t so, but I know that in time, someone out there – will take it upon themselves to remind my son of who or what he is – based on their warped point of view. I will help my son to build the skills to overcome this lesson in life, but I’m willing to bet I can never protect him from it. Everyone needs to learn how cruel we can be to each other sometime in their life… I just wish it wasn’t such a mongrel lesson to learn.

I guess I worry at times as to the ‘Why’ of it all. I know now that these fools with mouths far bigger then their brains – are few and far between. Well – relatively! I know too that they really don’t think to hard about what falls out of their mouths, nor care to much on how it’s received. I know that mostly – for the main part – Australian’s just want to get on with living a life together, and not worry about all that other fella crap.

I have many, many none Aboriginal friends… all of whom are wonderful human beings, and share my love for this amazing country. I will tell my son that despite all the fools he might trip across in his journey to grow – there are a LARGE majority of good people who just want what he hopefully wants – the right to grow and prosper safely, in a great country. I hope my son becomes one of these people – a good Australian.

BUT – I’ll be buggered if I EVER buy some of that damn COON cheese! A bloke has to hold to something you know, and that’ll do me – just fine!

Belongum Out!

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About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
This entry was posted in Aboriginal, adults, Australia, bad, black, child, coon cheese, culture, good, home, hurt, Isolation, parenthood, people, Perth, racism, rediculous, son, stupid, Western Australia, yarn. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to I refuse to buy ‘COON’ cheese…

  1. Ian says:

    Unfortunately it’s a bridge you will have to cross with him one day; some people refuse ta get their weird heads around the fact that ya can’t build yaself up by runnin’ someone else down. Not that it will be much consolation for your son, as it wouldn’t have been for you, but you may get some sorta giggle outa him by reminding him, when that inevitable day comes, that ‘coons are groovy lookin’ critturs that live in the bush all over tha ol’ US of A.
    Regards,

    Like

  2. The Daily Magnet says:

    Hey Belongum,
    I got this from the dairy famrers’ website,’The name Coon came from Edward William Coon who patented a process for the accelerated ripening of natural, unprocessed cheese in 1926.’
    You know it’s ok, but I think it’s a bit overpriced, & it doesn’t taste as good as it used to when I was a kid, I’m sure they’re making it differently.

    If you want to know about invasions, & racial, political and religious persecution, Irish and Scottish history paints a picture of all the abuses that were yet to come in the assimilation strategies of the ‘Commonwealth’ over the hundreds of years ahead. I still can’t understand what differentiates the conquering, genocide and assimilation of ‘Commonwealth’ countries to the other cultures in history, who were termed ‘infamous’ & ‘war criminals’ for doing the same thing.
    I prefer Fred Walker cheese or blue cheese, personally.

    Like

  3. Belongum says:

    Ian – Tis true, one day we’ll trip over this unfortunate event in my son’s life… and you’re right – Bruce Willis and his character in the latest Cartoon on ‘cute and furry’ will have to stand the test of time lol! Racoon’s always made me laugh since Gentle Ben times.

    TDM – Mr Coon was quite a clever cookie eh?! Was aware of him – and the history of Coon cheese. And MAN, what’s up with the price of Cheese these bloomin days eh? Red hot… lol! Never had Coon Cheese as a kid, never saw it on the shelves till I was well into my teens – and having an extremely warped sense of humour – I just stood their and giggled like a nervous school boy in the dairy section… must of looked a right treat!

    Like

  4. Callisto says:

    B,

    The first time he comes home to me and asks me what the word ‘Coon’ means will break my heart.”

    Jesus mate I don’t envy you that. I know you would handle it wonderfully though and that your little Arid will be full of the confidence he needs to get through something like that, should it happen. I worry about the things that will happen at school to my kids too. Kids can be so cruel, always have been, always will be.

    A guy I worked with once called me a stuck-up white c**t. It felt bad.

    Like

  5. Belongum says:

    I hate using words in ‘dirty’ fights Callisto, and the person who has to use a person’s ‘features’ to drive home their point in this fashion, is a gutless wonder in my humble opinion. Colour, build, sex, looks – any of it used to bludgeon a person’s ‘spirit’ is a poor show… and I will never (knowingly) let my son take part in such an act – I know all to well what it feels like! Anyone who’s first response is to attack using words in this fashion does not deserve the brain they’ve been issued with (or not!)… what a waste of grey matter!
    Good to know though – that most people just want ot get along with each other! 🙂

    Like

  6. kim says:

    I agree B. There’s such a huge backlash against being politically correct. To a degree where to be PC is to be a wowser.

    But all that political correctness is trying to do, is take away lables that hurt. To let everyone play on an even pitch. Why is that wrong?

    PS: Have also always refused to buy Coon cheese. Don’t care where the name came from, it is offensive in this day and age. Call the damn thing Edward William cheese.

    Like

  7. Foxhow says:

    I recently read “Brotherboys” the story of Phil and Jim Krakouer.

    It is disgraceful the amount of racial abuse they received.

    Thankfully this type of behaviour is a thing of the past in the main AFL league (at least)

    Like

  8. jl says:

    I remember the first time my younger brother experienced racism – i think it was in a department store in Perth, and he was about four. He cried because he just didn’t understand why the lady behind the counter was being so mean to him. It seems wrong when people direct their misguided prejudices/feelings towards young ones.

    I don’t buy Coon cheese either, although it’s not Mr. Coon’s fault that his name became tainted.

    Like

  9. jl says:

    Even *more* wrong – i should’ve said. Because it’s never right.

    Like

  10. Belongum says:

    Kim – the PC world personally drives me mental… it’s gone so far the other way now it runs the risk of being ‘offensive’ too.

    I don’t believe that Mr Coon Esq. ever intended any slight, but I’ll never put money down for the man’s cheese!

    Foxhow – know the fella that wrote the book, know the family. The world of sport is full of heckling alonf this line… I don’t there’s excuses for it, but it’s an ingrained habit now, people hardly see any fault in it… like accepting a ‘bit of biff’ on the field… how much of that behaviour should be allowed? Socially… it’s much the same thing, sad but true. It’s been ‘socially’ accepted in this country for so long, it’s pretty much the norm.

    Jaded Lotus – I know the feeling. I’m afraid that for those of us who remain a little different in the looks department, it will always remain the case. I think the best we can do is help our young people to understand that joining in with this sort of behaviour just diminishes them as individuals even more… it’s not an self-empowering exercise to belittle others in any way shape or form.

    Like

  11. Callisto says:

    B,

    I guess you may have noticed that Blissed is no more. I decided to delete the blog as it was really taking up to much of my headspace, not to mention time.

    I’d feel rude not saying ciao, and I wanted to say thank you for reading. I have really enjoyed getting to know about you and your life.

    All the best to you, to Arid (may he grow strong and proud) and to the XO.

    Goodbye mate!

    Callisto

    Like

  12. Belongum says:

    No worries C… I’ve enjoyed sharing a little of your space as well… I wish you and yours well – hope life brings you the things your chasing mate.

    Take care in the world eh… oh – and drop in from time to time… I think I’ll be here for a while 😉
    CHeers and beers…
    Belongum

    Like

  13. Spike says:

    I’ve never eaten it since someone told me ‘coon’ is ‘bum’ in Hungarian. I’ll eat bum but not when it tastes of cheese 🙂

    Like

  14. Belongum says:

    Spike… man I laughed at that! Cheers mate… 😉

    Like

  15. John says:

    I’ve got a different perspective…

    I’m 26 years old and I’d only ever heard the word “coon” used in relation to cheese. Until people started protesting against the cheese, I didn’t even realise it had an offensive meaning. So firstly, that’s a shame. You’ve successfully exposed a new generation to an old racial slur.

    But more importantly, by protesting against the use of the word in its non-offensive form, you only empower the word in its offensive form. Conversely, if you encourage use in the non-offensive form, you take away its power to hurt, and eventually the negative meaning may be removed all together.

    If you take away all other uses of a word, all that’s left is the offensive meaning which gives the word much more power to do harm. I’d suggest it’s much better in the long run to let the negative meaning die out, rather than promote it as the only meaning.

    Gudday John… thanks for dropping by and sharing your POV – I’m glad you did mate – Ta! Firstly – I’m with you on the whole ban the word Coon from Coon Cheese thing… a bloody ridiculous suggestion. I’m positive the poor fella wasn’t trying to have a go at anyone – this was simply his name, so it’s seems silly to me to make this THAT sort of issue. My point is that the word conjurs up for me personally, a very different meaning. I guess if I lived in a ‘world’ where such a word didn’t have any prevalence or wasn’t used in the fashion that I’m (sadly) familiar with – I might well come to think on this issue in much the same way that you do.

    This wasn’t the case for me though John (and many people much like me – some of them are the same age as you, and very much younger too)… in my beginnings I learned a definition for the word Coon, that had nothing to do with Cheese. I did so because this was the world in which I grew up. It wasn’t a nice place to be, so people weren’t nice (and forgive me if I’m sounding patronising… I certainly don’t mean to be doing so – I’m not out to insult your intelligence, or down-play your own life experiences!) with their use of the word in my (our) context.

    I wish the world could do as you’ve suggested, reverse the use of the word in such a way… it’s the same argument used for the way the word “Nigger” is applied in hip hop and rap, and – for exactly the same reasons – and for the life of me John – I’ll NEVER excuse the use of that word either. I come across many young Aboriginal boys who refer to themselves as “Nigger” in that (American ghetto slang) kinda way, and I cringe at the use of this word like this! It’s all about people I guess, and as you rightly say… it’s people that give power and weight to words (rightly or wrongly) – and as long as it’s people we’re actually talking about John – then in order for your suggestion to actually work, we’d need to address PEOPLE and their actual uses of the word! I’m buggered if I can think of a way to do this, people simply aren’t that simple to deal with.

    You’re an incredibly lucky fella, living in Oz and not hearing Coon used in the negative around the world in which you live. To me – that’s a good thing! I’ll not buy Coon cheese simply because the word reminds me of crap experiences and nasty spiteful people who once used (and continue to do so today) such a word to denigrate a group of people such as me, simply because of the colour of our skin. Should you NEVER come acsoss such people and such a world in your travels as a man in your life John – more power too you.

    Sadly – I still come across people nearly every day who’d love to use the word in any way other then describing the cheese they’re buying, and when my boy’s come to me going through the same hurt and confusion I did as a young fella (and I hope he doesn’t share a similar experience), because someone’s young lad has spat this word out at them – it will probably come from a young person who’s learned to use the word in this way for all the wrong reasons – and it’ll make me sad on all their accounts… we are after all – what we learn.

    Long reply I know, but it’s been a long life learning this lesson for me – and it’s not even close to being over!

    Cheers John – much appreciated!

    Like

  16. Mark Hurd says:

    @John: I agree with you, but we now have the “Nigger” Brown stand as a racist slur, so given it was the guy’s nickname clearly he and all who referred to him by it were racist. So we must not have Coon cheese, and Douglas Adams must be banned for he made fun of Black and White and Zebra crossings, and humans for that matter.
    Let’s not stop there. We must ban the Internet because of all the p0rn!
    Arrggh!

    Mark… I must have accidentally deleted my original reply to you mate – many apologies! I would – personally – have difficulty sitting in those stands myself, simply because of the same reason above. It’s a personal choice, based on my own experiences with the word. Now if Mr Brown has no problems with it, then that may be a different matter.

    The word ‘Nigger’ is vastly different and much more volatile as a word then having a dig at a Zebra crossing. Douglas Adams wasn’t swinging off his joke with malicious intent I’m sure, and most people who use the N word don’t necessarily do so to make friends with a fella – if you get my meaning… it’s about how words are USED i guess and that’s what worries me.
    Cheers mark – Ta for stopping by mate… 😉

    Like

  17. ashamed of nothing says:

    This is a blight on the way good living Australian live, “coon” cheese is just that cheese, it was the blokes name for crying out loud, get the hell over it, I see the shamed Name in Toowoomba has as of today been told its not welcome.

    Well personaly I hope Dairy farmers spares no expence in defending its name rights.

    We best change the name of Milo, vegimite, Choclate drops, Chicko lollies, black cats and the list could go on & on & on.

    What I hate is being born in a country, were my right of birth is diminished simply because of my forefathers ! ?
    I live in a prodminatly aboriginal community, and you think I am not called racist names each and every week ? hell the folk here dont like being called black anymore than I like being called white, I would much prefer Mate, Cobber Pal, Buddy anything except hey you whitey (or much worse) even if they know my name half the time.
    When respect is given it is usually offerd in return, if all australians got on with the bussines of simply getting along, and not wasting time with “Coon” cheese, there is a chip on some folks shoulders that they seen to need to aggrovate themselves.

    Just give it a rest, have some Cheese who gives a rats bum whats it called.

    “ITS CHEESE”

    True enough aon… as I’ve said – I’ve got nothing against the bloke who invented it, nor his legacy… what I have a problem with is the way people USE words to hurt others – AND – that this was why I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. It’s a personal choice – all mine – based purely on the fact that I’ve been on the receiving end of the word, and that the WORD upsets me as it conjures up unpleasant memories of fools who aren’t very careful with the way they use words.

    That it happens to be a brand name for poor old Edward Coon’s cheese is purely co-incidental! I’m not a fan of PC shite… if they ping this cheese off the shelf because of it’s name – they’re a bloody fool. However, I can well understand the feeling it (the word) may invoke in people.

    How about “Yo Bitch!” “Ho!” etc… Up until RAP and Hip Hop dragged these words about, I was convinced a ‘bitch’ was a female dog! We then had the use of that word in the following context: having a ‘bitch’, ‘bitchy’ behaviour etc… and whilst these mightn’t be flattering terms – they certainly didn’t bring with them the meanings they’ve adopted now in ‘American ghetto slang’ (sorry don’t know the right term for this).

    If someone said the word ‘bitch’ to you or any of the women that are close and important to you, with the same tone and meaning associated with some popular American movies and music (the likes of which our young people are soaking up here in Oz sadly!), how happy would you be about that???
    I wouldn’t be pleased if that happened to my mother or wife, nor my sister, daughter, niece… but hey – it’s just a word right?!

    My point is that it ISN’T just a simple word, and that we’re responsible for them as soon as we open our mouths. As soon as it falls out of a person’s mouth it starts to become very much more. That word when used (rightly or wrongly) carries with it all of that person’s meaning and intent, and that’s there real bugger about such things – people use words to hurt other people, and that behaviour (regardless of colour or creed) is poor behaviour in my book!

    Thanks for taking the time to post mate, I welcome all points of view on any topic here… much appreciated! 😉

    Like

  18. Abdul-Kareem Johanssen says:

    I prefer Crackerbarrel myself…

    lol… 😉 Goodonya AKJ… that gave me a chuckle for the day – cheers mate!

    Like

  19. David Tanu says:

    As you know the “Coon” cheese made by Dairy Farmers is named in honor of its creator. Given this fact, I don’t consider it to be rascist at all. I think Stephan Hagan (and others) are being a bit too sensative in this instance (although I was behind him 100% in the “nigger” Brown case). Let me explain why: “Muds” is a very racist term made in reference to Torres Srait Islanders (and Melanesian people generally) but I recently defended a white college of mine when an Aunty took offence to his use of the common phrase “Mud Map”. The context the word is used in changes the intent of the use of the word. I think it does more damage than good when we are quick label people, products etc, as being racist when it’s not even being directed at us black fellas. It seems to me that too many people are just being paranoid and stirring up a mob-mentality about issues that don’t warrant it.

    Gudday David… good to see another blackfella having a yarn in this place, you are always welcome brother… and it’s good to learn something new – “Muds” – I’ve never heard that term used before – sheesh! It’s as you say – except for the N word – I think when things are used in their everyday context, without malice or intent, then we might well be getting carried away with ourselves. I guess though there are people who recall traumatising events where this might well be triggered by the used of such simple words… but mostly – these ‘events’ need a lot more then the word to be aired to trigger such situations. Thanks for dropping by… let us know whether you’re a ‘regular’ poster (blogger) yourself, I’d beinterested in dropping over to have a look-see… cheers 😉

    Maikuik Mob 4 Ever – Peace

    Like

  20. Jambon says:

    I found this through google…

    The accuracy of Dairy Farmers’ account of the origin of the brand has been challenged. Anti-racism campaigner Stephen Hagan has said that he has been unable to find evidence that Edward Coon was a famous cheese maker, contending that the name came instead from the black wraparound it was originally sold in. Hagan says that Edward Coon was an obscure factory hand who was induced to subscribe his name to the patent for cheese manufacture some time after the brand had been in use.

    Should that be the case, that’d probably throw a whole new ‘light’ on things… hmmm – very interesting how things ‘grow’ eh J Cheers for dropping by – 😉

    Like

  21. laurence says:

    Coon is somebodys name. As in, “Hello, my name is Dr. Coon”
    If you have a problem with Dr. Coon’s name, then I would contend that *you* are the one who is intolerant. Its his family name, not his given name. He cannot really be expected to change his name just because YOU don’t like it.
    “Anti-racism campaigner Stephen Hagan” has now been proven to be a fraudster, as he was unable to explain how a “simple factory worker” was able to become the legal owner of multiple factories. In short, I do not regard you or the fraudster Stephen or any other politically correct bigot to be good people, neither do I respect their invalid opinions.

    Like

    • Belongum says:

      Ah… Laurence – my apologies for not replying – how rude of me!

      It’s late – I know – so I really only have three things to say: 1. Any name, title, word, descriptive or any other possible means of using a (writen or spoken) language in such a way that it engenders or carries with it some sense of racial slur – is in fact exactly that – a racial slur. As I pointed out to another commenter somewhat earlier on – ‘bitch’ is an accepted term for a female dog. I’m fairly certain that if you were standing by your mother, your sister, your wife or girlfriend and you heard someone use that term in a derogatory way in reference to a woman you cared about – I’m hoping you’d have something to say about that in defence of that person. 2: I at no time suggested that the good man Dr or Mr Coon was using his name too slur others, when he rolled out his particular brand of cheese. I simply shared my reason’s as to why I would NOT have it in my fridge, given the life I (and many others) have lived to date in this place called Australia. 3: If you’ve never been called a ‘Coon’ in such a way as I’ve outlined above in my post above – you’re making a lot of noise about something you know very little about. However, I could well be wrongly assuming things at this point in time – and if I’m incorrect in my statement above – I apologise wholeheartedly for doing so. Thanks for dropping by Laurence… Cheers!

      Like

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