Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
‘You cannot claim the pain but you can commit to becoming more educated.’ This was a comment made by one of the organisers of the student forum on racism held last week as part of our Recognising and Responding to Racism theme for our Social Justice focus.
I sat at the back of a packed theatre during the panel discussion and listened to a group of very mature and articulate students discuss and respond to questions that other students had submitted during the week and to questions directly from the live audience.
What made me so proud of these young women was their commitment and courage in discussing publicly some very personal experiences that had been very painful. They were willing to make their hurt public so that they could help other students understand the effects of racism and to help them realise that everyone has a part to play in rejecting racism in all its many forms.
The challenge that was presented was that people whose appearance is the same as the majority of community, who have never experienced racism in the way that people of colour have, need to make a commitment to educating themselves about other people’s culture and listening to their experiences. This will make us more aware of our own unconscious biases.
In an animated discussion with the students after the panel had dispersed, we discussed other ways we could continue this initiative and what other voices and groups that we could include. I am truly looking forward to supporting and seeing what these committed young woman of mercy can achieve – seeing a need and making a difference.
You can start your education here – listen to the voices of our own students HERE