Saturday, October 25, 2014
 

2014 SRC Elections: On the beginning of the campaign trail.

vote

 The year 2014 promises to be a momentous one for Student Representative Council (SRC) elections on campus. Dominated though they are by small campus political and activist groupings, at least a few thousand students vote every year in an election which grants its victors control of almost $300,000 in student funds for the purpose of running the SRC.

Every UNSW student contributes to the salaries and expenses of SRC Office Bearers and National Union of Students (NUS) delegates through the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), often by slogging through multiple retail or hospitality jobs while studying full time. Every UNSW student is affected by the quality of the SRC that is elected, with each Council possessing the ability to make a tangible difference to student advocacy, education quality, welfare, safety, environmental practices, university life outside of the classroom, and inclusivity of women, people of colour, queer students, and students with disabilities.

In short, these elections matter. UNSW students have a right to set a high standard for anyone seeking to take a neat pay packet of student money without proving their credentials first. For those who choose to vote in this year’s election, we have one piece of advice: engage in the democratic process. Grill the candidates on the campaign trail, compare the differences in policies and achievements, and perhaps most importantly, assess the commitment of candidates to getting the job done.

This year’s SRC nominations have seen a seismic shift in traditional alliances, guaranteeing one outcome: this will be a tightly contested and hard fought election. Within this broader battle, each vote will carry great power. If there’s one thing students can easily do to make their university experience just that little bit more rich and engaging, it’s using that very power to shape their SRC.

So when Week 12 rolls around and a flurry of coloured shirts appear on Main Walkway, get out there and vote.

What’s in a Voice: the end of an era?

If this year will be remembered for anything pertaining to the ephemeral transactions of student politics at UNSW, it is surely the end of an era of broad left cooperation that was the Voice ticket.

As the incumbent ticket on the SRC for the past 10 years, Voice has for the greater part of this period been comprised of a broad left grouping of independent, Greens and Labor Left candidates fronting up against Labor Right tickets under varying names, including Fresh and more recently Stand Up. Voice has consistently succeeded in these yearly tussles, though not without a scare or two, as in the 2012 SRC election which saw Stand Up run away with 45% of the vote and a dehydrated first year in a panda costume.

Following a tumultuous period of negotiations for the 2014 election, however, the political landscape of UNSW looks markedly different. The Voice ticket, still decked out in red, is now comprised of a loose coalition of progressive Independents, Grassroots (Greens), and Socialist Alternative candidates, the last of whom are present solely on the NUS ticket without seeking to contest any SRC positions.

Notable among this coalition, a number of seasoned activists on the SRC and its collectives have banded to form the organised UNSW Independents, who described themselves to Tharunka as “a group of non-politically aligned progressive students who care about fighting for students’ rights both on and off campus. Without a political party to answer to, we’re able to make students’ rights our number one priority. We are here to ensure that issues that affect students are on the agenda, and to push for change that ensures that everybody has access to the highest quality of education and the best university experience possible.”

After walking away from a deal with the Independents in favour of Labor Right/Student Unity, Labor Left have taken out the majority of positions on a newly formed Labor Activate ticket. Tharunka understands that the possibility of gaining a greater number of positions in the deal proposed by Unity was the determining factor in the Left’s decision to split from the traditional broad left Voice arrangement.

Activate Presidential candidate and UNSW Labor Left Students convenor, Billy Bruffey, told Tharunka that Labor Left had signed with Labor Right because “our group realised that our candidates were better suited running on a different ticket, in which our members could make the best contribution that suited our ideology and vision for UNSW. We were unable to reach agreement with other groups about the best candidates and the best agreement to suit all parties.”

A statement from the UNSW Independents, conveyed by Voice Presidential candidate, Maja Sieczko, said, “the UNSW Independents came to the conclusion that our ideologies were no longer compatible with those of the Labor groups present on campus. We were unable to reach agreement over candidates. At the end of the day, the Independents will always prioritise fighting for the wellbeing of students and ensuring a diversity of people are representing the voices of students on campus.”

The fouling of relations within the UNSW broad left draws to a close a period of unprecedented successful cooperation between left groups in campus elections, with the effects of this split and renewed Labor coalition likely to be far-reaching. The outcome of the SRC election will undeniably shift the balance of power on Arc Board, though whether this shift is towards Labor or non-politically aligned candidates remains to be seen.

By way of coda, the last words of Voice heavyweights following victory in the 2013 SRC election pertained to the almost mythical, omnipotent status the Voice ticket had gained in its supporters’ eyes.

Said one Voice veteran, to agreement from leaders of both Labor Left and the Greens, “For about a decade now, our team has managed to unite the different strands of progressive student tendencies into a formidable force that is excellent at campaigning, activism and advocacy. It’s no mean feat to achieve what we have, time and time again. And that’s despite the fact that many members of our ticket are in different political parties and in different factions of those parties.

“The culture of student politics at Sydney Uni, for example, is very different, largely due to some of the personalities involved. Most of the factions have treated the SRC as nothing but a vehicle for their own political ambition – including left factions.

“There have been attempts to convert UNSW to something more like that. We’ve resisted it, and stayed united. That’s helped us be one of the strongest student groups around.

“At UTS this year [2013], there was a lot of solidarity on the Grassroots ticket. Pretty much all the progressive students (minus NLS) in Sydney fought against Unity and NLS and won. At Sydney, the opposite happened; the left fragmented and the Right won.”

And there ends the saga of broad left unity in Voice. In a year which has seen the Federal Government launch this generation’s most vicious attacks on university students with its fee deregulation agenda, the various self-identified progressive groups on campus will instead spend the better part of October going head to head over campus politics.

No doubt the right will drink to that.

Disclaimer: The 2014 editors of Tharunka were elected on the Voice ticket, which was at the time a Labor Left, independents, and Greens grouping. All current editors of Tharunka are not members of any political party. No SRC candidates are involved in Tharunka’s election coverage.

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ILC funding cuts

By Rebekah Hatfield

The Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) is the only centre of its type in Australia, yet the current government has decided to cuts all of its funding.

The ILC, which was established in 1981, has played a crucial part in Indigenous legal academia, and soon, it will be left to fend for itself, with funding ceasing at the end of the year.

The Abbott government cut over $43 million from its “legal policy reform and advocacy funding”, unfortunately leaving many legal and policy community organisations in the lurch.

The ILC, which produces the Indigenous Law Bulletin and the Australian Indigenous Law Review – the only two journals dedicated specifically to Indigenous legal issues in Australia – has not given up and will continue fighting these cuts, but they still need your help.

There are many things you can do to keep this important centre around, like making a donation or writing a letter to your local member of parliament explaining why you think the ILC is important.

If you would like any further information, please check out the centre’s website at: http://www.ilc.unsw.edu.au/

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Editor Notes

Indigenous editor’s note:

This year hasn’t been a great year for Indigenous Affairs, with over $500 million worth of cuts to its budget.

 

That’s why, in a year like this one, it is especially important for the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be heard.

This issue covers a lot of heavy and important topics, such as deaths in custody, increasing incarceration rates, cultural history, the referendum, cuts to education and racism.

These issues have a direct impact on the lives of Indigenous people, and we thank the Tharunka team for helping our voices to be heard.

I am sure this is the start of a beautiful partnership between Tharunka and the Indigenous students of UNSW – a legacy to be continued for years to come.

I hope you enjoy.

 

Rebekah Hatfield

Indigenous Student Officer, UNSW SRC

Intercultural editor’s note:

2014 is a year of national achievement. Australia has weathered attempts to water down the seldom-applied Racial Discrimination Act. Simultaneously, the Australian government has soldiered on amidst the persistent international condemnation of its 143 human rights violations of persons seeking asylum. It would appear that the old adage of “you win some, you lose some” could definitely apply to the current cultural climate of the fair nation that our bountiful university is situated upon.

However, it’s not all doom, gloom and marginal gains! It is with great pleasure that Bek and I write to you in this very first edition of our student newspaper which is to be comprised – in its entirety – by students of culturally diverse backgrounds. The provision of such an outlet allows us to continually challenge, explore and celebrate the cross-cultural similarities and uniquities that define us as individuals, and as members of the broader UNSW community.

As one of our contributors exclaimed, “It would mean so much to be published!” – and on behalf of the Intercultural Collective, I’d like to express to those who have picked up this issue, that it means so much that you’re taking the time to read and actively listen to us.

Much love,
Rachel Lobo
2014 SRC Ethno-cultural Officer

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Agony Ibis

Dear Ibis,

With all these affirmative action policies giving minorities legs up and Andrew Bolt being prosecuted for speaking his mind, the world has gone over the top with REVERSE RACISM! Haven’t the youth of today heard of the philosophy, ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’?

Love,

Stormfront

 

Dear Stormfront,

I heartily agree! I always follow the Golden Rule when it comes to dealing with minorities, so it’s about time they started treating us the way we treat them. Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the lack of institutionalised racism for People Not of Colour (PNoC). Where’s our disproportionate police violence? Why don’t we get a higher unemployment rate? When’s PNoC history month? Why can’t I experience the thrill of having land stolen from my people? And they say they’re all about equality…

Love,
Agony

 ***

Dear Ibis,

STOP THE BOATS! These queue jumpers need to learn to wait their turn. KEEP STRAYA STRAYAN! We don’t need any more of them ruining the Australian way of life We can’t let these brown people terrrk our jerrbs and leach off our already struggling, debt-ridden economy!

Sincerely yours,

The Australia First Party

 

Dear AFP,

In light of the Commission of Audit’s report claim that it’s actually cheaper for these boat people to live in the community on a bridging visa than to be held in offshore detention, I propose that we let them all in! It might sound like a radical solution to our 7th Circle of Hell Debt Crisis, Oh Gosh, We’re All Gonna Die, but brown people are really great at doing jobs that nobody else wants to do, like taxi driving, cleaning, and working at Hungry Jacks. It’s a win-win solution, supported by many economists around the world, and would also keep our fair nation in line with several UN Conventions we are currently breaching ;)

 

Love,
Agony

 

Dear Ibis,

Racism is over; Why are all these coloureds always harping on about something or other? ‘You wore my culture as a costume, why are we never represented on TV, don’t stereotype me, you’re a racist blah blah blah blah blahhhhhh’. Can’t they just move on to something more important? It’s not like there aren’t children starving in Africa or world wars are being waged as we speak!

Cheers,

#1 Realist, yo.

 

Dear #1 Realist,

First thing’s first: these ultra-PC harpies don’t seem to understand that males aren’t very good at multitasking. That’s why in this patriarchy we live in, there exists a hierarchy of Important World Problems that can only be addressed one at a time. The reality is that addressing racism is much further down on the list than intervening in the Middle East for the sake of peace, or collecting your metadata. They’ll get to it when they can. The haters should cut them some slack.

In the meantime, here are a few suggestions for working towards the things you seem to consider more important:

1. You could lend a hand to those suffering hunger in Africa by donating to charities that balance overhead costs with genuinely supporting those in need directly. (No Voluntourism in this solution!) You don’t need to spend $1000’s on a holiday to mingle with the locals and poorly construct their housing or attempt to teach them with your ‘skills’! If you genuinely want to help and not deflect from the very real suffering of ethnics in the western country you have chosen to maintain residence in, donate those hypothetical thousands to actively reduce hunger in Africa.

2. Lobby your governments to directly oppose supporting these wars in the first place. Support those suffering from these world wars being waged by donating time or gifts (in-kind or monetary) to support the local non-governmental organisations and the international non-governmental organisations on the ground.

Sceptically yours,

Overwhelming Agony

***

Dear Agony Ibis,

I have an opinion on racism. I am entitled to my opinion. People need to stop attempting to silence me just because they simply disagree with my interpretation of racism. What ever happened to FREE SPEECH, or is that yet another attack on our human rights by the Efniksz?

 

Defiantly yours,

Free Spirit

Dear Spirit,
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, you are correct. Ten points for you! However, if that opinion negatively impacts other individuals (as every action has a reaction or consequence if you will) AND it is an uninformed one (not grounded in reality, verified statistics or genuine fact) then an individual is not entitled to have this opinion heard. I wouldn’t recommend you share or publicise such an opinion UNLESS you are prepared and are expecting other people to express their own opinion of your opinion. Whether or not they may disagree with all or parts of your opinion, you shouldn’t morph into a whiny baby every time they attempt to speak. Open dialogue is great when it flows both ways, amirite? Freedom of speech need not only be for the bigoted!

PS: Keep your ad-hominem attacks at bay when responding to those that may dissent, it lessens the integrity of your ideology.
PPS: Being called a ‘racist’ is NOT an insult. It’s a term defined by people that experience acts or systems of oppression based on race.

 

Painfully yours,
Extreme Agony

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Shortlist

By Rachel Lobo

How Racist Are You? Test yourself and find out!

Most individuals within the 18 – 24 age range would credit themselves as holding progressive, anti-racist attitudes. Care to find out?

 

If you had the opportunity to experience a snapshot of seven days as an Indian international student, Indigenous man or Muslim woman, would you? The Everyday Racism app, launched earlier this year and promoted on our campus during O-Week, provides the chance for participants to engage with scenarios over seven days. When players choose the character of “yourself”, you will be asked to respond from the perspective of a bystander.

 

The Everyday Racism app was created by a coalition of universities – the University of Western Sydney, Deakin University and the University of Melbourne – partnering with the anti-racism, not-for-profit All Together Now. It allows participants the opportunity to explore the concept of subtle racism or racial microaggressions – an indirect or covert form of racial discrimination highly prevalent in Australia and globally.

 

The project placed second in the United Nations sponsored competition for the 2014 Intercultural Innovation Award, which credits grassroots projects that “encourage intercultural dialogue and cooperation across the world”. Eleven finalists were drawn from 600 entries from over 100 countries, with the app being described as a “world first”.

 

It’s FREE and is compatible with both Androids and iPhones – so there’s not much of an excuse not to download when you’re in between lectures or waiting for public transport.

 

Altering the right to respond to free speech

The Attorney-General’s department has proposed modifying the funding and service agreements of community agencies. In effect, these changes would limit the freedom of Community Legal Centres (CLCs) to advocate for legal reform. In 2012, Senator George Brandis, the self-proclaimed freedom fighter of Australians’ right to express themselves, stated, “The measure of a society’s commitment to political freedom is the extent of its willingness to respect the right of every one of its citizens to express their views, no matter how offensive, unattractive or eccentric they may seem to others.” Those without the financial means to access legal representation outside of CLCs are often marginalised in one way or another. As a result, CLCs tend to be in a position to advise the government of unfair impacts of legislation.

 

The People’s Champion, demonstrating with effortless tact his commitment to free speech, continuously challenged the right for the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, to convey his views on the changes to the RDA during mid-year Senate estimates hearings. Yet another contradiction in an old white man’s endless quest for “freedom”. One skim of the applications of defamation laws in this country and the question arises, “Whose freedom is being defended exactly?”

 

Solidarity in life and death

Hamid Khazaei, a 24-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who contracted a skin disease on Manus Island, resulting in his passing on 5 September 2014, will be honoured with an Aboriginal passport. Organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), and in agreement with Hamid’s family, the gesture was in recognition of his unlawful suffering at the hands of the Australian government, and his parents wish to donate their son’s organs to Australian citizens. ISJA sees the passport as an expression of solidarity from the traditional owners to new arrivals in Australia.

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Ethnic Literature: Flavour – Lebanese

By Cindy El Sayed

cindy1

(In line with all literary categories available to non-whites: successful yet bittersweet immigration story/religion/school/family and food. Qualified and accredited by the white people for brown ethnic writers committee.)

 

1. Successful yet bittersweet immigration

My mum came here alone and pregnant with me. She did this for each kid, and I’m glad she did, otherwise I might not be here. There was a beautiful but brief stint in what I still consider my homeland, even though I was born in Paddington, Sydney. I lived in a town outside of Beirut, a tiny but great apartment on the ground floor.

We had cherry curtains, a ‘90s patterned sofa, a tv, bookshelves and an office. Nearby was an apple orchard where me and my mother picked a basket full: there was also a pale-coloured horse that we gave an apple to whenever we went. A fairy tale childhood, but then here I came back to the city I was born in, Sydney.

We had to live here for a year or two without dad, but he sent us all his pay checks. I vividly remember hating our Mascot townhouse, its tiny backyard and crappy carpet. I more vividly remember not having legs on our table because mum couldn’t build it herself, so we ate KFC on the flat table top. It wasn’t bad. But I miss everything about Lebanon, and the little fragments I have are not enough, and I wouldn’t be the same if I grew up there; I think I might have been happier some days.

 

2. Religion

Religion comes to me in bursts – it always has since I was old enough to know what it was.

It’s always there in my mind and heart’s periphery, on the edge, waiting for me. More patient, stable and accepting than any person, really.

A cool pebble in my sweaty palm, a clacking of rosary beads in busy fingers.

Islam is in my mother’s voice, in my father’s words. It’s there in every crackling, awkward conversation with relatives that I know I love, but don’t remember.

It’s there in every “m’ashallah” when I do something good, in every “bismillah” before we eat.

I do find myself in a complicated relationship, and I feel like an outsider sometimes, but it’s a part of me.

 

3. School

I am three. Tiny child. Curly hair, red coat. There are sugar cubes in my pocket. Next to the sugar cubes, tiny hands scrunched up, sweaty. They are melting the sugar.

“Sylvie, what if they make me write, I don’t know how to write or read.” Sylvia laughs. She turns the car into a street. We stop near a fire station and I think it’s beautiful. Mum is sitting in the front seat, trying not to cry.

Sylvia is my mum’s friend’s daughter and my third favourite person after mum and dad. She turns off the car and says to me, “Don’t be silly, they won’t make you write!” She says it kindly and I’m assured.

It’s my first day of preschool. I meet a girl named Layla and love her immediately because she has red hair and blue eyes. Primary school and high school were blurs of Catholicism and confusion. English was my favourite subject, and I liked art. My general maths was the worst score I got for HSC, but I am secretly proud of getting a nice, raunchy 69, which I still think is funny.

 

4. Food and Family

My family is a dad, a mum, an aunty, two sisters and three cats. They are all really great and I love them. I grouped food and family together because food in Lebanese culture is central to family. Obligatory ethnic food mention: tabouli, fattoush, hommus, mjadara, meat on sticks. Lebanese sweets like baklawa, znud el set, ashta and Lebanon’s take on the Black Forest that everyone just calls gateaux (French colonialism mention). Ramadan is the best because it’s always most of these things at once, every day. Food is emotional, spiritual even, in ethnic cultures as the stereotypes suggest. We take photos of food before people at parties (yeah that one is really true).

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How to destroy a people

By Rachel Lobo

How to destroy a people?

How to recreate history?

 

Convince them they are subordinate

 

The colour of their eyes, hair and skin

The shape of their lips and nose

 

The way they interact in their primitive, unsophisticated tongue

Their over-reliance on non-verbal gestures to communicate seemingly mundane messages

 

Make them less than what YOUR society consider to be human

 

Create legislation, doctrines and treaties

Detailing how “a foul race protected by their pollution from the doom that is their due”

can strive to be educated

and on the inside, become useful for the likes of you.

 

“They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

Plunder their homes, natural resources, sacred sites

Save them.

Force them to convert to the one true religion,

Follow Christ.

Spread this all-saving, all-forgiving faith through the demonstration of contradictory virtues

Violence

Cruelty

Rape

As many methods to Subjugate, wherever possible.

 

Enlighten them

to the fact,

Their pain isn’t real.

No sympathy, empathy or compassion is considered worthy

Of any other humanising characteristics

Reserved For Whiteness.

 

Divert their grain towards your more deserving civilisation

“They breed like rabbits… why isn’t Gandhi dead yet?” said the ever-revered Churchill.

“4 million, what’s another few dead?” says the white soldier striding pompously, well-fed.

 

Still Now,

the British-speaking elites are beholden to thee,

Forgiveness too easily played as their card,

Ignorance is synonymous with their advancement,

A pat on the head, a rub on the belly

Rewards not passed down to those snuffed out

Nor their families

Permanently scarred

And further insulted

by the Manipulated, White-Washed History.

 

No Reparations,

No Records of the truth.

Although you could not physically hold us for long,

Your ideology has won,

Your Imperial Romance,

Everlasting.

 

31 Famines, 120 Years of Rule!

Why not celebrate these Sub continental achievements?

Oh, great massacrists of the 20th century.

The above piece was inspired by the often forgotten 1943-44 Bengal Famine, which occurred under British Colonial Rule. Rakesh Krishnan Simha, New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst, recently wrote an article titled “Remembering India’s Holocaust”, which would be a great place for one to start their reading if they’d like to delve further into educating themselves on this often overlooked atrocity.

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How To Become Cooler Than Other Brown Girls

By Sarah Fernandes

get really into professional wrestling

listen to post-rock

eat lots of pizza

have an obscure taste in comedy

call people “mate” and “dude” and “man”

wear collared shirts with ironic prints

invest in cryptocurrency

play indie video games

have lots of progressive friends

smoke weed

watch documentaries

educate yourself about state politics

don’t cry after a breakup

wait 8 months between haircuts

worship Spike Jonze

drink beer

wear the same overcoat every day in winter

drive with confidence

don’t fuss about walking home alone at night

buy OFWGKTA merchandise

have a sex buddy

boast about never attending class

reference The Simpsons as much as possible

start a band

forget everyone’s birthday

make your internet presence as ironic as possible

only move your upper body at concerts

never clean the shower

always wear the same eight shirts

become cooler than other brown girls

become cooler than other white girls

become a white boy

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This too shall pass

By Tina Giannoulis

This too shall pass - Tina Giannoulis 1

I grew up under my Greek grandmother’s thumb, the one with the callous from years of absentminded pinpricking as a seamstress, in a duplex in Enfield. My grandmother’s hands look just like my dad’s but stronger and browner. When she shapes me with them, the word lipame springs to mind because her first grandchild is white and a girl. Lipame, I feel her feel, a sadness that misses something it never had. She takes me to Cronulla Beach and insists that I need colour more than sunscreen, so I cry for a week straight because I can’t sleep on any of my raging skin.

I’m the first girl she’s had to care for and she repeats the fact every time she draws my thick, curly hair back with a rubbery elastic band. My hair is her hair, but I don’t think she remembers a time when hers has been more than three inches long, so she combs mine like hers, never expecting the tangles that catch the brush’s stiff bristles. When she encounters them on the same stool at the same time of every day, she wipes away my “Ow!” before it can spill out. Siynomi she says, laughing. It means excuse me or sorry but she says it with the casual ease she’s giving the brush, somehow stroking and striking, comforting and bruising. “Yiayia never had a girl, she doesn’t know how to do these things,” she explains, and I feel tired because I know, I know I’ve only got uncles and I can’t understand why she’s talking about herself like she’s not there, but before I can ask, she repeats the bromide that will see me through far worse than hair tangles. “It’ll pass by the time you’re married.” It’s her version of this too shall pass, but with her expectation for me to grow up, breed and feed a family embroiled in the middle. I repeat it to myself for the next two decades anyway.

My relationship with my grandmother is based largely in silence. Or if not silence, then silencing. No, it can’t be silence, because my grandmother is the sound of a hammer on a roof at four in the morning, the wooden spoon against the side of a katsarolla, shaking off sauce; she is winter coughs and phlegm and pointed sighs about what the “kala koritsia” do. But I was never one of the “good girls”, and I try to explain this to her over dinner one night. I’ve spent years stubbing out the label like a cigarette burning too close to the filter, leaving fingertips too hot to touch anything without a trace of its ash. I finally tell her, I’m dating an Afstralezo. After all these years of wearing pants to church, refusing to fill my father’s plate for him and a quiet disdain for anyone with a name day, it feels like a cop out. I feel nothing for the Afstralezo, and the relationship is summed up when Yiayia asks, “Is he handsome?” “Very,” I respond.

In four days time, I will call an end to my time with the Afstralezo. “I don’t get communism,” he proclaims. “What’s the point in suffering through a present hell for a better tomorrow?” You don’t get communism, I think, and then I think of Yiayia and the way her eyes would have shown a lesson-teaching anger that still scares my adult self. I am the point, I think. And I set him aside.

But here at the dinner table, my grandma’s eyes are kind. There’s a drunkenness in them even though the pinkness in her cheeks that grows from her first sip of alcohol is absent. In Greek, with no one listening and no one to perform to, she tells me that my Afstralezo is good and that I must love many men. I’ll get married one day, she tells (instructs) me, maybe not to A Nice Greek Boy but to someone I have learned to love and who won’t produce a child with funny eyes. I can only emerge from the cringe of her xenophobia when she tells me to Be Penelope.

Be Penelope, who rifled through and watched her suitors pile up and pass her by. Be Penelope with your boyfriends but think always of your Homer. Remember that suitors are just the padding in the story of your marriage.

When my Italian grandmother dies, Yiayia flies up to Brisbane for the funeral. She’s there for her friend, my namesake, but I take shelter under her thumb once more. My mum has gone silent, so my Yiayia’s hands envelope me once more and she is surrounding me at every moment. I start to cry at the service and feel her daktyla dig into my upper arm. “Don’t cry,” she whispers in our language. “You have to be strong for your mother now.” I don’t know where to push the sadness that’s leaking up and out of my lungs, but when I drag back the tears and look at her, I realise that it wasn’t a bromide. Under her thumb, I feel brown, calloused and silently strong with the words she no longer has to speak to her girl. Tha perasi os pou na padreftis.

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الإنجليزية

By Cindy El Sayed

 

i remember when i was 5

and my dad was reading me a book

it was about dinosaurs

and i had to help him with the words

because he could not wrap his soft syllables

around the hard angles of a new language

 

the first time I noticed someone being rude

to my mother, because of her english

i held her hand tightly

she didn’t notice the lack of respect

that anglo australians gave her

but i shed angry tears

without letting her see

 

me and my mother at my parent teacher

interviews: I am 14

I notice the way some teachers

slow down their words when

she opens her mouth

 

my mum is driving me and some girls

that I am trying to be friends with

she makes a joke and I look at the two girls

in the back seat exchange a mocking glance

I never try to talk to them again

 

it is my sisters birthday she is 16

my dad has paid for a huge tent in the yard

a cake with striped pink candles and there is no

alcohol allowed

my dad tries to take a kids beer away

the kid laughs and says

‘your parents can suck my dick’

 

to you people who see imperfect English

and think it means someone is stupid you

don’t fucking understand anything

do not dare to disrespect them

for trying to learn a language

that has been used as a tool

to destroy

 

to that student who told my father to

go back to his ‘fucking country’

I want to break you

and your colonial language

to pieces

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Praise be to all men of colour

By Josephine Omashaye Itsheye Ajuyah

 

Praise be to all Men of Colour who stand up every day to white men, who try to bully them into submission, white men who want Men of Colour to be perpetually on their knees grateful for “letting” them into this country.

 

When will white people learn,

 

These pale faces,

 

That melanin is fearless,

 

That melanin cannot be intimidated,

 

Because melanin has been hardened by loss and despair,

 

By separation and chains,

 

By hunger,

 

and every prejudice known to man;

 

That melanin is bravery,

 

It is never ending struggle,

 

That melanin always has been, and always will be,

 

eternal.

 

That is,

 

That melanin is perfection.

 

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