We regret our need to postpone the inaugural Inner West March and Festival for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Saturday, March 21st. Like so many people we have to take into consideration public health and well-being at this time. But the spirit and purpose of the march and festival are not forgotten. Nor will that spirit and purpose be stilled.
All over the world, March 21st is a United Nations supported event known as ‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’. Only in Australia has it been rebranded as ‘Harmony Day’, diluting its relevance.
As Addison Road Community Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero has said, “It’s meaningless to do this, especially given our history and the treatment of indigenous Australians. So, while the rest of the world is talking about racism and discrimination, in Australia the message is be harmonious’, to keep your head in the sand and don’t make waves.”
Addison Road Community Organisation is an active member and co-convenor of the Inner West Multicultural Network. It has been taking the lead in organising the inaugural ‘Inner West March and Festival for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’. The Inner West Multicultural Network contains 120 civil-society organisations, with its secretariat provided by Inner West Council. Addi Road itself is also known as the birthplace of multiculturalism in Australia. March 21st is naturally a day and a cause that is deep in our hearts.
We are currently developing a podcast that will feature interviews with our scheduled speakers, along them our local indigenous elders, leaders of community groups, and representatives from many other different groups dealing with racism every day. Two notable speakers being interviewed for the podcast are Darcy Byrne, the Mayor of Inner West Council, and Tim Soutphommasane, the former Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Our podcast will focus on three primary elements. Stories from those experiencing racism and discrimination. The broader context that figures like Mr Soutphommasane and Mr Byrne can bring to the conversation. And perhaps most importantly, the strategies for how all of us can act. What can we really do when we face racism and discrimination and see it happening all around us? What are the tools?
The virus amongst us now is social and political issue, a civil and human issue, as much as it is a medical one. People are being randomly abused and assaulted in the streets. If we lose our sense of community we will lose the public health battle – and our greater sense of community with it. A sense of community, compassion and cohesion essential to coming through these difficult times.
Issues of racism and discrimination work like, and with, the virus we now fear. It’s an issue that cannot and should not be silenced on Saturday March 21st. We will use all the tools we have available in a podcast that is made available through our Facebook page and website. We plan to broadcast the message louder than ever on our e-megaphone. It’s time to exercise the right to speak, and the right to be heard. We are all in this together.
Please check our website here and our Facebook page for announcements about our podcast: