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Let’s have a courageous conversation

Let’s have a courageous conversation

by Tamara Sherden

Racism is such a powerful word that hurts many people in so many different ways. However, the word racism is made up of many different meanings. These are the detours society holds onto regarding racism as outlined at CSU’s Courageous Conversations About Race Workshop.

  • Colour blindness
  • The level playing field/can do attitude
  • Reverse racism
  • Blame the victim
  • The Avon ally
  • Lighten up
  • Don’t blame the victim
  • We have overcome – Equality
  • Innocence by association
  • I was an… a former life
  • Bending over backwards.

These are the topics that need to be spoken about with one another, by having a courageous conversation and looking deeper into how this impacts on your life and society as a whole. It’s not just about you. Life is about loving and nurturing everyone in it, no matter who you are and the colour of your skin.

The word ‘racism’ can be interpreted in many different ways.

Racism is not just black and white on paper. We live in a multi-cultural and diverse society which means the word racism holds issues for a lot of different nationalities; discrimination of a person’s rights to speak. Physical appearance of a person’s colour or disability. Spirituality, what does this person believe or worship. This list can go on…

Basically, it all comes down to respect. Respecting each individual person no matter what the age, their gender, their identity. Who they are.

So who am I?

I was born and raised in Wollongong, NSW. I moved at least 30 times growing up, different schools, different friends. My mother is Aboriginal and my father, I couldn’t tell you because he was never spoken of. They both divorced when I was young.

Forwarding the clock many years, I have found myself living in Bathurst amongst family and community I don’t really know. Because my mother was from the stolen generation era, we had lost our identity. I do however know what it is like being discriminated against.

Do you remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”?

I absolutely hate that saying. The names I used to be called plays throughout the rest of your life. The looks you get when you walk into a shop – how humiliated you feel when you approach the staff to check your bags and they allow others to walk through without getting checked, the resume you drop into local businesses to apply for a job then the owner throws it in the bin when you leave because you are with a family member for support. I can go on and on with my story but I’m not going to.

Why? Because everybody has a story. Everybody has issues that need to be addressed. I’m not going to let racism or being discriminated by my own peers and society affect me because of my identity. I respect myself and everyone in my world. My name is Tamara Sherden. I am aboriginal and proud of who I am. I grateful for what I have been through.

I will have courageous conversations with my peers and how we can all address this issue. How about you?

I am going to ask a question based on a pre questionnaire from the Courageous Conversation About Race Workshop.

To what extent does race impact your life?

Charles Sturt University has joined the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me Campaign’ pledging its commitment to prevent racism in its organisation and its communities. Join the conversation and stay tuned for more insights as we explore the impact racism has on our lives.

CSU’s Racism. It Stops With Me. campaign was launched in November 2015.

Racism. It Stops With Me.

This is an SSAF funded initiative
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