Image: Nada Kalam. Image source.
Unfortunately instances of casual racism are still highly prevalent in this country. And if you’re not convinced that’s the case, you only have to take a look at the powerful speech delivered by young Muslim engineer Nada Kalam recently. Born and raised in Australia, 27-year-old Kalam was invited on stage at Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s National Press Club address to discuss her experiences as a young Muslim woman.
“I am tired of being spoken about. My fate in the hands of people who don’t understand my contributions, my passions and my concerns,” Kalam said on stage, sharing the fact that she can’t go for more than a few weeks without someone telling her Muslims aren’t welcome in Australia, or that she should “go back to where she came from”.
“More often than not, people up here on this stage and in parliament attempt to shape my future without making me a part of the conversation. My name is Nada, and it is an honour to be on this platform to share my story.” That story is a painful one of both casual and overt racism. The former experienced on a regular basis — while travelling on public transport, in the supermarket, walking down the street. The latter less frequent, but far more violent in nature.
“I have been chased down the CBD streets by a man screaming that he wanted to kill me because of the apparent bomb under my hijab,” Kalam recalls. “This isn’t the Australia I have grown up in. It is not the future that we want.” With this in mind, she urges us all to stand up and take responsibility for making a change today.
“We are each responsible for what is happening down the street, beneath the Earth’s surface or across the seas,” she explains. “As a community, we have become so focussed on defining our differences that we have forgotten about the power we have if we work as a collective.” Kalam believes that we need to capitalise on our strengths as a nation and work towards a more inclusive future overall. Because even as so-called ‘innocent’ bystanders of casual racism, we are all part of a broader problem.
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