In the past when I’ve written of racist experiences in my personal life, many critics claimed I was stoking a fire that had already gone out. It’s astounding to me how many people look at me in shock when I dare suggest that Australia still harbours racist attitudes. What’s not surprising is that those who are shocked, are White.
More recently when I wrote about a traumatic experience of racism in the workplace, I was told (by a journalist of colour) that such an article would hinder my chances of future employment. The journalist in question probably wasn’t wrong, and said this as a friendly word of warning. It wasn’t so much that I exposed the experience I had, more so that I was critical of the workplace and the employer.
I mulled over the advice for weeks after our meeting, reading through old articles I’d written and scouring them with the eyes of a prospective employer.
Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks and took heed of the position I once again found myself in. On the back foot, cautious, careful not to offend, upset, or provoke, in fear that it would impact my career or be deemed adversarial. Even though I was mistreated and reminded by the CEO of the news organisation I worked for that our audience was racist and I should write accordingly, I was the one being careful with my words. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”
For far too long my own values and beliefs have taken a back seat to fear that I might offend, provoke confrontation, or hinder my career. When I was offered the opportunity to take the helm of a publication dedicated to Women of Colour, to empower them, and amplify their voice, I jumped at the chance. I will not be silent anymore.
With thanks to Women of Colour Australia, NSW Multiculturalism, the extraordinary efforts of our Contributing Editor Dana Rawls, and the unwavering support and guidance of our founder Brenda Gaddi, I am so proud to introduce the inaugural edition of SPEAK. A quarterly online publication of news, commentary, artwork and expressions of mighty Women of Colour from across the country. Each issue will feature renowned journalists, writers, activists, and artists, that each express their own unique experience.
Issue 1 centres on racial justice (and lack thereof). We look at the impact of generational incarceration, hear from world leading activist Dr Hannah McGlade about the issues facing Indigenous women, delve deep into the history of blackbirding, discover the injustice in AI, discover the genesis of Harmony Day, and a powerful poem on Islamophobia.
Issue 2 delves into our nation’s policies and celebrations of diversity, as well as our own personal experiences and psychological trauma, highlighting the emotional gambit of what life is like in Australia as a migrant/ refugee. We have an uplifting poem from SPEAK’s very own Poet Laureate Sara Saleh; a must-read feature of the emotional toil racism has on migrants by psychotherapist Dr Kathomi Gatwiri; an important discussion of the history of Australian migration by Kamela Rezaie; and lively, engaging pieces written by Australian migrants Shilpi Jain and Brigette Sancho of their lives Down Under and advice for women of colour looking to move here. Up and coming writer Samantha Wheeler interviews her mother to write a compelling piece on their lives in Australia; Supriya Singh deep dives on the culture clash many migrants face around family (and money) when moving here; and Jessie-Lee Klass writes about how a fantastic football club in Sydney is doing its part to welcome refugees, one soccer goal at a time.
Get comfortable, grab a drink, and enjoy the issus.
SPEAK Issue 1 & 2