E-RACED: Erasing racism in Australia one story at a time
Story-telling is a powerful tool in the fight against racism. Ultimately, it has the potential to stimulate important conversations – leading people to better understand other cultures and interrogate their own prejudices.
Storytelling forms the basis of E-RACED Australia, an organisation committed to ‘erasing racism one story at a time’. Young refugees are trained in public speaking and encouraged to share their story in a medium that is familiar to them, whether it be through speech, music or dance. These stories are then presented at schools, universities and various events all over Australia.
CulturalPulse Australia caught up with Chanceline Kakule, who leads the Mount Gambier (South Australia) chapter of E-RACED. Having arrived in Australia as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chanceline understands firsthand the challenges that come with settling into an unfamiliar environment.
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Chanceline’s first experience of culture shock was when she realised that she and her siblings were the first black people to ever attend her school in Launceston, Tasmania.
“Kids would ask me all about my culture and the background of where I come from, whether I came to Australia by boat, whether they can touch my hair, why I ate the food that I did. But overall the most disappointing thing they’d ask me was, ‘Why don’t you just go back?’” Chanceline shared.
“That one hit home for me because obviously I went on to explain the fact that my country was hit by war, and my family and I were forced to leave.”
Chanceline’s experiences of feeling like an outsider made her truly realise the power of taking the time to listen to other people’s stories, and ultimately motivated her to become involved with E-RACED.
She is a firm believer that personal storytelling leads to greater understanding and peace between people of different backgrounds. It also has the power to challenge any negative perceptions about immigrants or refugees that may have resulted from the media.
Most recently, E-RACED Mount Gambier has been engaging with the Black Lives Matter movement by encouraging black people to share their own stories through video, poetry or song. Chanceline is heartened by the fact that the movement has sparked meaningful conversations which are long overdue.
However, she explained that while it’s essential to provide educational resources such as books, films and organisations for people to learn about racism, it’s just as important to support those who are most impacted by racism.
“Personally I’ve been mentally drained from this, so I assume that most black people out there have been drained as well,” she said.
For this reason, E-RACED is providing the opportunity for Healing Conversations on their Instagram, so that black people can share how they have been coping.