Azlan Petra has made fighting against racism his career, working with asylum seekers, humanitarian groups and communities around the world. He’s currently working to address racial profiling in Victoria – which you may remember us talking about way back last year with Maki Issa, one of the African men involved in the civil case against Victoria Police. In his spare time, Azlan occasionally blogs and tweets for our friends The Two Chairs, an anti-racism online project.
At the conclusion of National Youth Week, multicultural group Youth Voice organised a mini festival called Walk in Our Shoes. Walk in Our Shoes was held in a carpark hangar in Boundary Street in West End and showcased music, performances and art promoting cultural diversity in Brisbane.
The art exhibition featured stories written by high school students from multicultural Brisbane schools Sunnybank and Milepera High Schools, and English language learners from Logan and Inala TAFEs, about where they were from.
The stories and images were themed around shoes, physically and symbolically – shoes that take people across the world and shoes that are special to us, to show others another experience – to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Ayan and her Somalia flag poster
Three keen Youth Voice volunteers from around the world – Armin, Rafique and Ayan – were there to make sure everything ran smoothly, and encourage people at the mini festival to share their stories and thoughts on diversity in Brisbane.
One of the performers at Walk in Our Shoes was Chris Tamwoy.
Chris Tamwoy plays acoustic guitar. Chris plays guitar by sitting it on his lap and tapping the strings with his fingers.
And Chris himself? He’s only 18 years old and learned to play without formal musical training.
His unique style of playing guitar has caught the attention of music lovers across Australia and the world. He recently performed and spoke at TedXBrisbane late last year and is playing at Bluesfest in Byron Bay this weekend.
Chris uses social media as a platform to publish his music. After receiving some racist comments online, he also used social media to spread his message about confronting racism.
I caught up with Chris after his performance at Walk in Our Shoes to talk about how he learned how to play like that, and how to respond to racism.
Vaguely Human, a multicultural Brisbane band with a conscience, funky guitar and spitfire rapping, played a few sets after Chris.
B-Grade, Loz, Guy and Vegas chatted to us after their show about how 4 members from around the world came together in Brisbane – which involves a family feud across Asia – 20-year-old dreadlocks and the ethos behind their music.
Michael Nolan from Melbourne has taken it upon himself to start a petition against repealing 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
18C condemns offensive speech and actions towards another person based on their race. However, Attorney General George Brandis and Prime Minister Tony Abbott are proposing to repeal the act, claiming it interferes with the right to free speech. This has caused concern in ethnic communities across the country. The Attorney-General’s department is accepting submissions from the public about their thoughts on repealing the act until the end of April.
Michael has collected almost 8,000 signatures protesting against changes to the Act and will submit it at the end of the month. He talks to us about how his migrant family and international friends motivated him to take action.
Everyday Racsim characters (left to right): Pat, Aisha and Vihaan
Anti-racism initiative All Together Now have launched an app that simulates racism and situations for the player. The player can choose to live the every day life of different characters – an Aboriginal man, a Muslim woman and an Indian international student. The app shows different situations where racism occurs through emails, social media posts, text messages, video and audio. The player can choose various different ways to respond.
The characters were developed by advisory groups. We speak to Mridula Amin, a Sydney-based student of Bangla descent, who helped create the Indian student, Vihaan, using her own experiences with racism.
The Australian Federal Government is proposing to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. This section of the act makes offending, intimidating and harassing people on the basis of their race or culture illegal. Attorney-General George Brandis QC claims this interferes with the right to freedom of speech. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now looking to repeal this section of the Racial Discrimination act.
Last week, over 150 organisations covering interests of ethnic communities, youth, human rights and law in Australia signed an open letter to the Attorney-General to reconsider repealing the act, as it protects people from hate crimes.
A joint press conference was held in Deakin University Melbourne to discuss the best course of action.
One of the speakers was L-Fresh the Lion, a hip hop artist and community youth worker. He shares with us how his family has experienced racism and explains the importance of legal protection against hate crimes.
The Two Chairs project encourages writers to contribute articles on their thoughts on racism. A recent article on the site caught my eye. Chris Topp, a Sydney-based journalist, wrote about his encounters on racism that started when kids pointed out that his New Zealand Moriori grandfather was black, and his thoughts as a gay man in an interracial relationship.
Chris talks to us about his family, and the racial issues that come up in the dating world.
Madina (left) and Sarah (right), part of the team behind the Stop Think Act campaign
Bullying comes in many forms. Youth Voice, a group of young Brisbane people passionate about engaging with refugee and migrant youths, recently launched their own anti-bullying campaign: Stop. Think. Act.
Celebrities like Ash Grunwald, Mama Kin and Dr Karl have posted messages of support on the Stop Think Act facebook page.
Sarah, Madina, Ahmed and Salima from Youth Voice are behind the creation of the campaign aiming to encourage young people to share their experiences of bullying on social media.
They talk to us about the campaign and about racist bullying.