Posts for the Ethno Cultural Officers

We are honoured to be your Ethnic Affairs Officers this year

Hi there! Our names are Eden, Kavya, Lamisse and Deeba and we are honoured to be your Ethnic Affairs Officers this year as we continue to represent and fight for the equality of those who identify as a person of colour, a person from an ethno-cultural background, an Indigenous person and/or as someone marginalised by white supremacy. We stand for the liberation of these people and believe that it is important that we are represented appropriately.

At the beginning of 2014 the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) came together to ensure the empowerment and self-determination of ethno-cultural people on campus and outside of campus.

Last year we ran our “I, Too, Am Sydney” campaign to highlight the racism and prejudice faced by many students at our uni. It was a great opportunity to give a voice to those students whose experiences aren’t always heard. We carried on with ACAR Honi Soit, where we took over this rag and curated an amazing edition full of articles, poetry, art and comedy, all created by autonomous students of colour. Some of these works became received massive exposure and others allowed first time creators to dabble in writing new work.

Currently we are working with members of the University community on the upcoming Racism. It Stops With Me campaign that will launch at the end of March, a project we are very excited about. Likewise, this O-Week, we have created our first ever ACAR zine. The new quarterly booklet will continue to provide our members with an creative outlet that we aren’t always given. ACAR would like to thank Whitney Duan for assisting in this editions creation.

We hope to continue the great traditions of last year and are excited to work with the SRC in the capacity of Ethnic Affairs. This collective hopes to operate not only as a space of activism and political organizing, but also as a support space where all racially marginalised people can share their experience. We see racism and its effects as diverse and we are determined to work as a collective to make visible the different ways racism manifests in people’s lives and how we can end it.

Structures of oppression do not work in isolation

Structures of oppression do not work in isolation. Whatever white supremacy touches, it structures. So too, with queerphobia, misogyny and ableism: wherever they exist, they are at work structuring our relationships with each other and with the world. There is no space safe or free from them. This means, that for those of us at the intersections, the communities that are essential to our survival are also capable of causing great pain and doing great harm.

Our anti-racist organising will be nothing, unless we are actively trying to understand and organise against the many ways queerphobia manifests in our communities and our work. Our queer organising is nothing if our queer spaces are almost totally inhospitable to First Nations peoples and people of colour.
Our organising will be nothing if it is not always scrutinising the insidious nature of power.

‘Intersectionality’ is not a buzzword; it was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw as she deconstructed the way Black women experience marginalisation along multiple axes to show the way this affects their physical, and emotional safety and survival. So it is not a buzzword to be used for credit in our activist spaces; it is a framework of liberation that centres Black women, and it has given us a way to conceptualise a liberation that leaves no one behind.
We can start by making our communities safer: what economies of power circulate in our spaces? What norms are structuring how we live with and love each other?

Our goals should ultimately be bigger, but unless the communities we are working within are made safer, we are merely reinscribing oppression into the fabric of our activism.  I want my queer community, anti-racist and decolonial; and I want my anti-racism decolonial and queer.

Gabrielle Pei Tiatia tells you why we should stop Abbott not the boats

Since day one of Abbott’s Prime Ministership, our action as pro-refugee students has never been more urgent. The Liberal Party (LNP) has already spent over 7.2 billion dollars on expanding offshore camps, brutalising refugees and violating international law; meanwhile, they’re cutting 2.3 billion from the public university sector (which translates to 50 million dollars cut from USyd). This is a clear illustration of the LNP’s priorities and a clear reason why we should be fighting back against them.

At the Lowy Institute last week, Morrison announced the introduction of the Australian Border Force to take over customs and the Navy to turn back asylum seekers coming by boat. This is only to serve a rhetoric which shifts policy focus on militarising borders, that further stigmatises refugees and overlooks the reality  of the persecution asylum seekers are fleeing from.

While Morrison and Abbott champion their policies for “stopping the boats” and hide behind a tough facade, they’re actually more vulnerable than ever. The Nauruan Government have come out announcing it will not resettle Australia’s refugees , and now the LNP are frantically trying to negotiate with neighbouring impoverished countries to take up our international obligations.

The Liberals have consistently been feeding the Australian public lies – bolstering vile myths, xenophobia and using racial scapegoating for their own political expediency. Despite how horrific these policies are however, this isn’t a time to despair. The movement under Howard showed that a pro-refugee mandate can be won through building a strong grassroots movement.

Tens of thousands have hit the streets to demand justice for asylum seekers and there is already a strong foundation being built to fight back against Abbott – pro-refugee groups at universities, schools, workplaces, unions, occupations etc. have been established all over the country that are committed to growing the movement.

Students are a vital component of the broader movement outside of parliament. We are always at the forefront of pushing progressive political agendas and we have have the power to dismantle Operation Sovereign Borders and shatter this pillar of systematic racism to shape an equitable future for the most vulnerable. In order to do this, we need to unite collectively to demand a principled and humane approach to refugee processing and resettlement. This can only begin by breaking bipartisan support, shutting down offshore processing centres and ending mandatory detention.
The Anti-Racism Collective (ARC) is committed to strengthening the refugee campaign by educating students and building up their confidence to become activists.
ARC meets every Tuesday, 1pm on New Law Lawns. All welcome!
For more info, check out our facebook page, ‘Anti-Racism Collective Sydney Uni’ or contact Gabby on 0416 488 258
We hope you can join us. Stand up, fight back!

Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR)

This is Tabitha Prado-Richardson, an Ethnic Affairs officer at the SRC and one of four office bearers running ACAR, the Autonomous Collective Against Racism. Our first week as an official SRC collective has been both exciting and daunting as we begin to form a concrete presence on campus, starting with our stall at O-Week.

Turns out a few people have issues with the fundamental idea of our collective. Though analogies to Women’s Collective and Queer Collective usually sufficed, sitting behind a sign that said “Autonomous Collective Against Racism” opens one up to vague gratuitous statements about race, bringing up our favourite questions like “Is Australia racist?” and our favourite concepts like “reverse racism”. Times like this we hold Aamer Rahman’s sentiments close to our heart and remember that no, we can’t be racist toward white people – some of our best friends are white. Despite these fruitful discussions, the rain was insurmountable and I apologise for anyone who tried to find us towards the end of O-Week. I’m optimistic though that as we grow as a collective, the USYD community as a whole will begin to navigate the full and complex realities of racism: that it’s not about being a good or bad person, it’s about the connections between history and identity.

While a separate body to our collective, we’re helping run a Race 101 workshop on Monday the 17th of March through the Critical Race Discussion Group. Running since second semester last year, this group aims to give a non-autonomous space in which people could learn about race and racism, centring around different topics. The Race 101 workshop gives a brief introduction to ideas around identity, privilege, and structures, drawing on both theory and sharing experiences to learn about race and racism. Anyone can come along and no previous knowledge is required!
Later on this semester we also hope to run our first Autonomous Honi Against Racism — an edition of Honi Soit produced only by people who self-identify as a person of colour, a person from an ethnocultural background, an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person, or someone marginalised by white supremacy.

If you’re interested in joining and you didn’t have a chance to at O-Week, please send us an email at acar.officers@src.usyd.edu.au! If you support our cause you can also like our Facebook page: search for “Sydney Uni Autonomous Collective Against Racism”.

The ACAR officers are Oscar Monaghan, Bridget Harilaou, Shiran Mario Illanperuma and Tabitha Prado-Richardson.

Marijke Hoving let’s us know about the refugee rights campaign

This is a particularly crucial year for the refugee rights campaign. With the return to the dark days of Howard’s Pacific Solution and the looming federal election, we need all the support we can get to fight for humane refugee policies that welcome boats, rather than deter them.

The reintroduction of offshore processing last year has had nothing but detrimental effects on asylum seekers. The detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru are already in crisis, with reports of hunger strikes, lip stitching and suicide attempts, not to mention disease and mental illness. Richard Towle from the UNHCR has recently reported that the asylum seekers on Manus Island are “distressed and confused about their situation. They are closed in detention without a process in sight. They feel they have been forgotten.” Refugee policy has become a race to the right, with both sides of politics disgracefully competing over who can be harsher on refugees. But we can fight this, by building a broad political campaign outside of parliament.

An important event for the Anti-Racism Collective (ARC) and the wider refugee campaign each year is the national convergence, which this year will be held at Northam detention centre over the ANZAC weekend (Thursday 25 April to the Sunday 28 April). Students from ARC, along with refugee rights activists from across the country will converge on the Northam detention centre to draw attention to the injustice of Australia’s refugee policy. The prospect of an Abbott government implementing even harsher policies makes this even more important. The Northam detention centre, two hours outside of Perth, Western Australia, opened in June last year. Close to 600 asylum seekers have been detained there since. Northam is part of a group of detention centres isolated from the big population centres, meaning asylum seekers are kept ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This is an invaluable opportunity for students to collaborate and discuss pressing issues of refugee rights with other activists, and bring newly acquired information back onto campus.

To coincide with the convergence there will also be a protest at the Villawood Detention Centre on Sunday the 28th of April and ARC will be organizing a student contingent to the protest. By joining the protest students can show their opposition to this racist refugee policy and their support for the vulnerable people currently locked up in Villawood.

If you’re interested in joining the pro-refugee movement, or want any more information, ARC holds meetings every Tuesday at 11am on the New Law Lawns.

Ethinic Affairs Report

no report as yet