Category Archives: Violence

WIRE e-bulletin #245 – Facing down Racism

Julie Kun, WIRE CEO wrote the following in an email bulletin. I needed to share with you her concerns as they are a reflection of my own, as I listen incredulously to the casual racist rhetoric pouring out.

 

I’m back from leave in Europe, only to discover the country has become distressingly more racist since I departed.

Yesterday I listened to part of Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech in which he praised the White Australia Policy and called for a plebiscite as “the final solution to the immigration problem”.

Last week I listened to Barnaby Joyce being interviewed by Charles Pickering stating how we have to look after people in regional areas because “they’re poor, in many instances white.”

The week before I was reading Andrew Bolt’s racist and divisive article in which he attacks immigrants, alongside the Jews of Caulfield, and talks about Australia being colonised and taken over.

I have had enough. Just four weeks ago, I was standing in Terezin in the Czech Republic, a former concentration camp during WWII. A camp in which 7,500 children were murdered because of their religion; my father was only one of 264 children to survive it. This is not the distant past — this is my immediate family’s direct experience.

When I hear and read these racist opinions, my values feel attacked. I feel threatened and this is as a white, privileged Australian. Talk of a final solution and a Jewish ghetto existing in North Caulfield not only stings but causes stress and disquiet. I still function — most will not see or hear the unrest within me but it is there.

One person recently called this constant background stress of casual racism dealing with ‘white noise’.

But I wonder how much more attacked and threatened I would feel if I was a woman of colour, a First Nations person, an immigrant or a Muslim. A person who could not hide their skin colour, accent or religion from the community. How much more intense would the disquiet be? How much more energy would I have to expend to protect myself from the attacks on who I am?

There are WIRE staff, volunteers, board members and service users who are not left wondering because it is their daily experience. To you, I want to acknowledge your strength and the additional baggage white Australia forces you to carry each day.

Let us all ensure that we are taking care of one another. That we make WIRE a safe place and that our work is an active tool to dampen the destructive racist forces that too often feel emboldened to speak out. If you are reading this and you have the privilege of not being the target of these racist and ignorant attacks then your job right now is to listen, find out what people tell you they need, support and react appropriately.

Dr Nilmini Fernando, a WIRE staff member, has just reminded me of this fantastic quote from Audre Lorde who self-described herself as a black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’ Too true.

In solidarity,
Julie Kun, WIRE CEO

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Domestic Violence – the murders we don’t hear about

The murders we don’t hear about — and why, by Stephen Smiley and Angela Lavoipierre

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Help prevent Gender violence

Dr Gemma Hamilton, Anastasia Powell and Dr Naomi Pfitzner, academics from RMIT University have written that it’s only a little over halfway through the year and already 37 Australian women have been killed by violence.

On average, at least one Australian woman is killed by a current or former partner a week, and about one in six women have experienced sexual or physical violence since the age of 15.

They have compiled a guide to promote gender equality and help prevent violence against women it can be found here at The Conversation website.

 

Homeless tonight

Ryan’s weekly tip is emailed out for homeless, mentally ill and addicted patrons of Libraries. I was particularly moved by this week’s instalment. It reminds us that we are very fortunate if we have our own shelter to sleep in each night and enough money for food each day.  For more information and to sign up for classes please go to: Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness.
I slept in a homeless shelter last night.

I work at one of the largest shelters in Illinois. Whenever my wife and kids are out of town, I sleep here to get fresh perspective. I figure that I should have some idea what it is like to sleep here.

I jotted down notes of things that struck me:

7:00 pm – Dinner is provided by volunteers who are all members of the Sikh religion. They all, including the children, wear Dastars (turbans). They serve a few dozen pizzas, watermelon and orange Kool-Aid.

7:32 pm – There are way too many kids living in the shelter right now. I watch four siblings (all in matching tie-die shirts) run around a crowded dining room play a game that is a cross between tag and rugby. Dozens of adults—weary from a long day—try to avoid them.

8:46 pm – A man who lives at the shelter is making a balloon animal (a monkey riding on a ball). He taught himself to make balloon animals as a way to calm his anxiety. The four children in matching tie-die shirts stand transfixed, watching his craft. It is the first time they have stopped moving since they arrived.

9:00 pm – The sleeping rooms are full and there are still more people that need a place to stay. The dining room is converted into another “bedroom” by laying out another 40 or so mats. That is where I will sleep tonight.

10:32 pm – I manage to track down a few sheets so I don’t have to sleep on a bare mat. I’m not sure where we got the sheets from, but they are smaller than a twin bed. Maybe they were made for cribs.

10:37 pm – I am assigned a mat in the middle of the dining room. All the “prime real estate” is already taken. The best locations are near a fan or a wall. The noise of the fans block some of the shelter noises, and the walls guarantee that your head isn’t by a lot of feet. I have the benefit of neither a fan nor a wall.

11:02 pm – It is amazing how much noise 40 people can make while sleeping. How does anyone sleep here? Man, I wish I was near a fan…

Around midnight – I finally drift off to sleep.

1:32 am – My full bladder wakes me up. I stumble to the bathroom. In order to get there, I have to step over eight sleeping people, go down a flight of stairs and traverse a hallway. Task complete, I go back down the hall, up the stairs and re-cross eight sleeping bodies. By the time I get back to my mat, I am wide awake. It takes me at least 30 minutes to get back to sleep.

2:15 am – The guy sleeping next to me has a coughing fit and I wake up for a while.

3:32 am – A man getting up for work trips on something, making a clutter. I am started awake. It takes me a while to get back to sleep.

4:29 am – Lots of people are getting up for work. Most are trying to be quiet. A few are not. A husband and wife have resumed their argument from the night before.

4:29 am – 5:00 am – I stare at the ceiling and watch people get ready for work. It is way too loud to sleep now. I really wish that I had gotten a spot in one of the sleeping rooms, rather than the dining room.

5:00 am – The lone staff member turns on the lights. 40 people groggily get up and stack their mats in the corner so the room can be turned back into a dining room for breakfast.

5:22 am –Some mornings there are as many as twenty volunteers and breakfast is pancakes, eggs, grits and toast. Today, there is only one volunteer so breakfast is pastries donated from the local grocery store and cold cereal.

6:00 am – I stumble down to my office. My vision is a little blurry and my head is fuzzy. I sit in front of my computer to type out this email.

Rest of the day – I have to work. I haven’t gotten enough sleep to function. I don’t know how anyone is able to keep a job while sleeping in a homeless shelter. I can muddle through today, but if I had to do this for many days in a row I would be utterly unemployable from sheer sleep deprivation. If I went to the library, I would totally fall asleep.

Please forgive any typos and poor writing. I am really freaking tired.

How many more?

Women killed in domestic violent situations

I cried last night watching the news, name after name, story after story of women dying at the hands of partners, ex partners…..The Women’s Agenda published this article and I agree with their description of this being a horror show. So many lives are being snuffed out, by perpetrators who feel they can use violence to gain an end.

We as a society must act, and stop this. Discuss with your loved ones, friends, work colleagues…we all must act together to stop the rot.

 

Trump Team Moves To Lift Ban On ‘Extreme’ Hunting Tactics In Alaska

The proposal would allow hunters to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens and shoot swimming caribou from motorboats. Read more of the changes in Chris D’Angelo’s article here.

Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry

An incredibly powerful article by Anne Ursu, that details the harassment workers in the Children’s Book industry experience. A reminder that we have a long way to go…..

Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Atlantic

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