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Not tolerating intolerance

Sydney locals gathered for the inaugural launch of Democracy in Colour, an organisation who have vowed to fight racism. Credit: Democracy in Colour

BY SORAYA PEREZ MOHAMMED

A slew of prominent Australian community members came together to fight racism last week, vowing to push back against the government’s racist changes to immigration laws.

Comedian Jennifer Wong, Pakistani clothing designer Zara Ahmed, Artist and poet Candy Royalle, Greens MP Jenny Leong and DJ/Artist Sezzo Snot were among a diverse mix of entertainers and politicians who showed their support at the rally.

Democracy in Colour, who has proudly announced itself to be “Australia’s first national racial justice advocacy organisation, led by people of colour, for people of colour” held its inaugural launch party last Sunday to protest against racism and the treatment of refugees in Australia.

Tim Lo Surdo, founding director of Democracy in Colour, said Australian people needed migrant communities to come together and bring an end to the government’s racist policies.

“I come from a family of immigrants- my mother is from China, and my father is from Italy, and since a very young age I witnessed the racism my parents suffered, and the abuse my father received for not speaking English,” he said at the rally.

“I was born here, and I feel identified with this country. However, I have also suffered racism and discrimination because of my skin colour and my origins. I think it’s time we joined forces and changed that,” he said.

“The Government’s detention, offshore processing and deterrence regime against refugees is among the most obscene examples of racism in Australia, and we want to play a positive role working alongside the wider refugee and migrants’ movement,” he added.

Mr Lo Surdo also pointed out that in the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of crimes and violence against people of colour.

“Racism and xenophobia are being used as tools to divide our population and communities, and it is time that people of colour took the lead to address these issues and revise the narrative,” he said.

Umme Hoque, the organiser of the event, explained that Democracy in Colour wants to build platforms to increase the political voice of people of colour and strengthen their capacity.

“The stronger the general movement is, the greater is the political space for them to organise and have their voices amplified,” she said.

Local Lebanese artist and poet Candy Royalle was at the rally, and said people of colour need to raise their voices to achieve equality.

“Too often people ask me ‘what can I actually do to change the world?’ Now I can say, this is something you can specifically get involved with – people of colour and white allies, unite. This is the beginning of a new political movement, and together, we are stronger, and we can join forces to defeat racism,” she said.

“But I want to give you good news; this battle is only a matter of time because in the end, we will win. We will beat racism and racists, I guarantee you,” she added.

Ms Royalle also explained that as a Lebanese woman,  she had been the victim of racism and discrimination all her life.

“We cannot deny racism in Australia exists and is, in fact, a major problem that has increased in recent years. But this is our opportunity to unite and demonstrate that we are more than those who try to divide us. Many people have told me: ‘go back to your country, we don’t want you here’, but I know they are a minority,” she concluded.

 

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