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How deeply proud we could be if we tackled racism and other oppressions

Talking to the calm and eloquent Joe it’s easy to feel deeply the harsh reality of racism. ‘We’re cutting kids down from trees,’ he says, ‘How is that not a national emergency . . . hate suits modern politics and its killing people or making them really sick;  its at the heart of why we are disconnecting’.

Alina is extremely active in the Muslim community of Victoria. She is angry and determined. She wonders what kind of community we have where it is ok for young Muslim girls to be violently threatened by strangers on the street. “It’s scary, but it comes with the territory”. It’s become normal for her to chat casually on the phone with friends about the latest abuse. Normal, but never ok.  She’s worried about what this is doing to the young Muslims feeling marginalised and isolated.

And Solomon, he wonders why he is the only one who ever has to reel off his lineage “but no white person ever has to say where their grandmother came from”. For people of colour it is often their grandmothers, cousins, uncles and children who feel the brunt of racism and hate in our communities.“The number one concern for me at the moment,” says Darshini  “is having a lot of friends who are Muslim and people of colour, but particularly Muslim.  Just the, I mean it’s pretty horrific, the Islamophobia that is currently permissible in the Australian context. I’ve been really shocked by that.  . . . I literally can’t understand how adults can behave in that way and not be held to account for the consequences of their actions. I think that’s not ok. . . the daily treatment of Muslims in Australia but also people of colour more broadly as well.”

Then there is Tim, a man born to Chinese and Italian parents, who recently set up an advocacy and campaigning organisation in Australia for and by people of colour.  He talks about how deeply personal this work is;  how significantly racism has impacted him, his friends and family. He knows that the problems is systemic;  that we all are set up to blame each other just so that our system can survive to benefit ‘the tiny elite, at the expense of the dignity of everyone else’.

Surely, people say, we can do better than this; we must do better than this as a nation if we are to have a bright and prosperous future.  As Hannah explains, we need everyday courage to tackle racism and confront the “massive shameful wound people carry everywhere… imagine how deeply proud we could be if we tackled this and brought people along for the ride”.  And Joe agrees . . . “Imagine the energy you would get from not having to hate all the time. It would be extraordinary; extraordinarily recuperative and empowering”.