As every capital city in Australia prepares to protest in solidarity, our Indigenous, refugee, asylum seeker and migrant communities wonder why – yet again – it’s taken a death on American soil to get us talking about racism. We Australians like to think of ourselves as an easy-going bunch. We’re laid back, welcoming, quick to laugh and say g’day. And that’s usually the case if you’re white.
But that’s not the experience of everyone who calls Australia home.
Sadly, many of the young refugee, migrant and asylum-seeker children in RMCC’s programs can attest to this.
These aren’t kids that are ‘stealing our jobs’ or ‘roaming the streets in gangs’. They’re working hard to build a new life here. To learn a new language, meet new friends, and find a sense of belonging in a new culture, amongst kids and communities that often look very different to them.
They feel the pressure of living between cultures; wanting to adapt to the culture of their new home, while respecting the traditions of their country of birth.
Australia should offer the hope of a new start, and a more secure future – and this week’s rallies provide us with the opportunity to show that their presence enriches our culture.
But it takes more than one protest rally to show this. It takes continual, individual actions.
So what can each of us do to fight racism in Australia?
- Listen. If you don’t have Indigenous, migrant or refugee friends to speak with directly, listen to podcasts such as Pretty for an Aboriginal, watch documentaries such as award-winning SBS series Go Back to Where You Came From and read books such as Boochani’s acclaimed No Friend But The Mountains.
- Don’t ask what you can do to help. Don’t request references, resources and advice from people already bearing the burden of discrimination. Do the research yourself. It’s not their job to help fix a problem they didn’t create. This Forbes article recommends anti-racism resources for white people and is a great place to start.
- Be mindful of the media you consume. Facebook tailors your News Feed based on your online behaviour and serves you content that reflects your own biases. Journalists such as Herald-Sun’s Andrew Bolt have been found guilty of breaching racial discrimination laws. Critique sources carefully.
- Challenge your biases. Yes, we all have them. They’re called ‘unconscious’ for a reason. This document suggests helpful ways to do this.
- Speak to your kids about racism and white privilege. This list from The New York Times provides book recommendations for kids aged 0 – 12+ that can support conversations. And this video on white privilege is a powerful example to show older kids.
- Try learning a second language (if you don’t already speak one). It’ll give you a greater appreciation of just how resilient, adaptive and determined our new Australians truly are.
- Donate your time. Our RMCC Mentors give up one afternoon a week to mentor the kids in our programs, but the positive influence they have on the kids is transformational.
- If you don’t have time to give, donate money. There are many fantastic organisations around Australia working hard to support Indigenous, refugee and migrant communities. RMCC is just one of them. National Justice Project and AIME are two more.
Image credit: Australian Human Rights Commission