Tag Archive: cultural diversity


diversity in language and liturgy

I went to an event this week that talked about racism and how most people make it to the level of “tolerance” but rarely make it to “acceptance”. Acceptance is the level where diversity is incorporated and celebrated. A panel was asked: “What signals that a space is safe?” And the answer is: “Evidence that you have done your own work on this.”

So, how a space is configured, it’s art and decorations might contribute to safe space but so too does language. Churches often talk about being spaces of “welcome” but in how many languages are you saying it? Do you express the multiculturalism of your community? Do you have it in Braille? Is it large print for the elderly? Colourful for the children? Indicate that those who are LGBTIQA+ are welcome?

I don’t necessarily mean literally having a welcome sign that incorporates all those things but holding space to learn from how someone with a Vietnamese or Sri Lankan cultural lens experiences God, what does the God who calls us to look and see, or hear and listen, mean to someone who is blind or deaf? What does faith in a triune God mean to someone with an extra chromosome? How does someone identifying as LGBTIQA+ who has been disavowed by their family relate to a Holy Father?

In no particular order, playfully explore language and liturgy now that invites you into another way of knowing, follow links for more…

THE LORD’S PRAYER: MAORI & POLYNESIA

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe;
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world;
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings;
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trial too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.

The New Zealand Book of Prayer

ABORIGINAL LORD’S PRAYER

(there is a lovely sung version of this)

You are our Father, you live in heaven
We talk to you, Father, you are good
We believe your word Father, we are children,
Give us bread today
We have done wrong, we are sorry,
Help us Father, not to sin again
Others have done wrong to us and we are
sorry for them, Father today
Stop us from doing wrong, Father
Save us all from the evil one
You are our Father, you live in heaven
We talk to you, Father, you are good.

Easter to Pentecost

Wondrous God, lover of lion and lizard, cedar and cactus, raindrop and river, we praise You for the splendor of the world! We thank You, that woven throughout the tapestry of earth are the varied threads of human diversity. Created in Your image, we are of many colors and cultures, ages and classes, gender and sexual identities. Different and alike, we are Your beloved people. Free us, we pray, from fears of difference that divide and wound us. Move us to dismantle our attitudes and systems of prejudice. Renew our commitment to make this a household of faith for all people – gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and straight – that all who worship and minister here may know the grace and challenge of faith. In our life together, grant us minds and hearts eager to learn, reluctant to judge, and responsive to the leading of Your loving Spirit. We ask in Christ’s name, Amen.
Rev. Ann B. Day, Shaping Sanctuary

Alternative language for Psalms and Scripture…

Child Play by Joy Cowley

Father Mother God,
every now and then you call me
to drop my burdens at the side of the road
and play games with you.
I respond sluggishly.
Carrying burdens can make me feel important
and sometimes I’m afraid to drop them
in case I suddenly become invisible.
But when I do let go for a while,
how simple life seems –
and how beautiful!

God of play and playfulness,
thank you for castles in the sand,
for swings and slides and soap bubbles,
kaleidoscopes, rainbows,
and wind to fly kites.
Thank you for child-vision
of flowers and stones and water drops,
for child-listening to the universe
humming inside a seashell.
Thank you for showing me one again,
a creation filled with laughter
and the enjoyment of your presence.
An thank you, thank you,
dear Mother, Father God,
for the knowledge
of your enjoyment of me.

Aotearoa Psalms: Prayers of a New People by Joy Cowley

Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources – Australian scripture paraphrasing.

Mark 1: 4-11

John the baptiser showed up in the desert preaching to the people. He called them to be baptised, to completely turn their lives around and receive God’s forgiveness for their toxic ways. Everyone came flocking to John from Jerusalem and from all the rural districts of Judea. They owned up to their wrongdoing and were baptised by John in the Jordan River, promising to mend their ways.
John was dressed in rough clothes made of camel hair and animal skins. He lived on bush tucker – grasshoppers and wild honey. This was the guts of his message: “After me comes the One who is way out of my league – I wouldn’t even qualify to get down on my knees and lick his boots. I’m only baptising you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
During those days, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. The moment he came up from the water, he saw the sky open up and the Spirit coming down like a diving kookaburra and taking hold of him. And a voice filled the air, saying, “You are my Son; the love of my life. You fill me with pride.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net


Dadirri – A Reflection By Miriam – Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann

NGANGIKURUNGKURR means ‘Deep Water Sounds’. Ngangikurungkurr is the name of
my tribe. The word can be broken up into three parts: Ngangi means word or sound, Kuri means water, and kurr means deep. So the name of my people means ‘the Deep Water Sounds’ or ‘Sounds of the Deep’. This talk is about tapping into that deep spring that is within us.

Many Australians understand that Aboriginal people have a special respect for Nature.
The identity we have with the land is sacred and unique. Many people are beginning to
understand this more. Also there are many Australians who appreciate that Aboriginal
people have a very strong sense of community. All persons matter. All of us belong. And
there are many more Australians now, who understand that we are a people who celebrate together.

What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most
important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our
fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening
and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call “contemplation”.

When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk
through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in
this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.
Through the years, we have listened to our stories. They are told and sung, over and
over, as the seasons go by. Today we still gather around the campfires and together we
hear the sacred stories.

As we grow older, we ourselves become the storytellers. We pass on to the young ones
all they must know. The stories and songs sink quietly into our minds and we hold them
deep inside. In the ceremonies we celebrate the awareness of our lives as sacred.
The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us
peace. It makes us feel whole again…

In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good
and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by
asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our
people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years…
There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.
My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have
lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness. My people today, recognise and
experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all. It is easy for
me to experience God’s presence. When I am out hunting, when I am in the bush,
among the trees, on a hill or by a billabong; these are the times when I can simply be in
God’s presence. My people have been so aware of Nature. It is natural that we will feel
close to the Creator.

Dr Stanner, the anthropologist who did much of his work among the Daly River tribes,
wrote this: “Aboriginal religion was probably one of the least material minded, and most
life-minded of any of which we have knowledge”…

And now I would like to talk about the other part of dadirri which is the quiet stillness and the waiting. Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons. We watch the moon in each of its phases. We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth… When twilight comes, we prepare for the night. At dawn we rise with the sun. We watch the bush foods and wait for them to ripen before we gather them. We wait for our young people as they grow, stage by stage, through their initiation ceremonies. When a relation dies, we wait a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief  and allow it to heal slowly.

We wait for the right time for our ceremonies and our meetings. The right people must
be present. Everything must be done in the proper way. Careful preparations must be
made. We don’t mind waiting, because we want things to be done with care. Sometimes
many hours will be spent on painting the body before an important ceremony.
We don’t like to hurry. There is nothing more important than what we are attending to.
There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.

We wait on God, too. His time is the right time. We wait for him to make his Word clear
to us. We don’t worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) his way will be clear.

We are River people. We cannot hurry the river. We have to move with its current and
understand its ways.

We hope that the people of Australia will wait. Not so much waiting for us – to catch up –
but waiting with us, as we find our pace in this world.

There is much pain and struggle as we wait. The Holy Father understood this patient
struggle when he said to us:
“If you stay closely united, you are like a tree, standing in the middle of a bushfire
sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred
and burnt; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are
still strong. Like that tree, you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to
be reborn”.

My people are used to the struggle, and the long waiting. We still wait for the white
people to understand us better. We ourselves had to spend many years learning about
the white man’s ways. Some of the learning was forced; but in many cases people tried
hard over a long time, to learn the new ways.

We have learned to speak the white man’s language. We have listened to what he had
to say. This learning and listening should go both ways. We would like people in
Australia to take time to listen to us. We are hoping people will come closer. We keep on
longing for the things that we have always hoped for – respect and understanding…
To be still brings peace – and it brings understanding. When we are really still in the
bush, we concentrate. We are aware of the anthills and the turtles and the water lilies.
Our culture is different. We are asking our fellow Australians to take time to know us; to
be still and to listen to us…

Life is very hard for many of my people. Good and bad things came with the years of
contact – and with the years following. People often absorbed the bad things and not the
good. It was easier to do the bad things than to try a bit harder to achieve what we really
hoped for…

I would like to conclude…by saying again that there are deep springs within each of us.
Within this deep spring, which is the very Spirit of God, is a sound. The sound of Deep
calling to Deep. The sound is the word of God – Jesus.

Today, I am beginning to hear the Gospel at the very level of my identity. I am beginning
to feel the great need we have of Jesus – to protect and strengthen our identity; and to
make us whole and new again.

“The time for re-birth is now,” said the Holy Father to us. Jesus comes to fulfil, not to
destroy.
If our culture is alive and strong and respected, it will grow. It will not die.
And our spirit will not die.
And I believe that the spirit of dadirri that we have to offer will blossom and grow, not just within ourselves, but in our whole nation.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is an artist, a tribal elder and Principal of St
Francis Xavier School, Nauiyu, Daly River, N.T.
© Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. All Rights Reserved.

Experiencing Dadirri

Clear a little space as often as you can, to simply sit and look at and listen to the earth
and environment that surrounds you.
Focus on something specific, such as a bird, a blade of grass, a clump of soil,
cracked earth, a flower, bush or leaf, a cloud in the sky or a body of water (sea,
river, lake…) whatever you can see. Or just let something find you be it a leaf,
the sound of a bird, the feel of the breeze, the light on a tree trunk. No need to
try. Just wait a while and let something find you, let it spend time with you. Lie
on the earth, the grass, some place. Get to know that little place and let it get to
know you- your warmth, feel your pulse, hear your heart beat, know your
breathing, your spirit. Just relax and be there, enjoying the time together. Simply
be aware of your focus, allowing yourself to be still and silent…, to listen…
Following this quiet time there may be, on occasion, value in giving expression in some
way to the experience of this quiet, still listening. You may wish to talk about the
experience or journal, write poetry, draw, paint or sing…
This needs to be held in balance – the key to Dadirri is in simply being, rather than in outcomes and activity.

It’s also worth looking up Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr’s Stations of the Cross and the Aboriginal Eucharistic Liturgy.

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“We are protectors of the mountain.When I stand here it is as if I’m standing on my mauna. When I look out at all of you, it is as if you are standing on the mauna.”

 

If you don’t know what the Mauna Kea trouble is all about you can read more in the article linked here…

“Nearly ten years ago, a multibillion-dollar international collaboration led by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology planned to build the largest telescope in the Northern hemisphere on the summit of Mauna Kea, a sacred Hawaiian mountain. It is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the ocean floor; higher than even Mount Everest. In 2015, kiaʻi, protectors of the mountain, prevented that work from starting …”[continue reading]

On Friday 2 August there was a gathering in Fed Square to stand in solidarity with the protectors at Mauna Kea. It was bigger than that. We stood also in solidarity with the protectors at Ihumātao, and the protectors across the Pacific Islands feeling the impacts of climate change.

In Maori the word whenua means both land and placenta. It is what nourishes us. To be tangata whenua  is to be indigenous, to be at home, to be naturalised. To build or develop land in ways that that does not consult with indigenous people or consider their use and value of the land  is to show yourself to be a stranger in that place. Do not think that colonisation was something that happened long ago and far away when it’s impacts are being experienced in real ways here and now… it’s happening just up the road at the Djab Wurrung Embassy.
Mauna Kea… “the firstborn child of Wākea of the sky and Papa of the earth. Mauna Kea is the piko, the center or umbilical cord, the point where all energies converge. It is a place where the akua dance in their human forms, a place to chant, pray, and remember how to be in proper relationship to creation. It is the highest temple. The mountain is an ancestor to the Kanaka Maoli people, born long ago in the ongoing song of creation. For well over a thousand years, to honor this ancestor, the Kanaka kept the summit pristine, pure, and accessible only to those who ascended with the proper conduct and ceremony.” (Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder)  and the government is approving a telescope to be built that is dug in two storeys below ground and stands 30 storeys tall.
Through language, story, dance, chants the people, the tangata whenua, sing aloha to the land. The tangata whenua are kia’i – protectors of the land. We invite you home. We invite you to be a protector of the land. We speak and sing in many languages, Aboriginal, Hawaiian, Solomon Islands, Samoan, Maori, Niuean… we speak and sing with one voice.
Please listen.
Hawaii (Mele)

Solomon Islands (great spoken word poem… “you may treat us like dirt with your lies but the very dirt that you treat us as anchors the foundations we build our lives on…

Maori/New Zealand (Haka)

Maori/New Zealand (Tiaha)

Samoa (Pese)

Paste up in Paraparaumu today

Artwork by Rowena Fry

This is your home and you should have been safe here

by Wellington artist Ruby Jones

i am not your negro

“You do not have to change to face me but you do have to face me to change”

James Baldwin

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CL: First heard the term “intersectionality” after starting my blog Black Feminist Ranter which ticked several “oppression” boxes. It was a label applied to me to inform a sense of ‘place’. A description of where the intersections of oppression are overlapping. It’s in the feminist sphere that is being played out but dividing and othering instead of being done well. It’s not being used to subvert and challenge systems but by those wanting “ally credit”.

RH: How we use the word… it’s made equivalent to representation e.g. have a quota of female politicians but the systems don’t change. What about sweatshops? What about Western interventions in the Middle East? Supporting Hillary and the first potential female President is great but don’t say “She’s going to be great for all women” – be specific. Say “some of her policies are good” or “Hillary being President will be a good start” but not making sweeping statements like: “What’s good for women is good for all women”, that erases the experience of those her policies don’t benefit.

CL: Why did that election result get pegged on the non-white women? Hate that… everyone asking: Where are the African-American women? Stats show it’s white women that didn’t vote for Hillary.

RH: They had to ask – “Who will be worse?” All minority groups voted for Clinton.

CL: Similar here re Gillard. First Australian Prime Minister – a win for dissecting feminism but she was legislating in NT and making cuts to single mother benefits… I couldn’t fight on those issues because I had to defend on the left re gender.  We are being compromised in these situations.

RH:  Allies need to understand the dilemma and acknowledge it. Intersectional feminism should understand that dilemma but it doesn’t. It needs to acknowledge the reasons others might be unsure and have concerns. For example, media around the Wonder Woman film discussed the Zionist views of the lead actress and called for boycott.  I didn’t advocate for that. It’s only one woman’s opinion.    It should be ok that Arab women might not be able to jump on this empowerment train. Allies need to understand.  There’s a refusal to see.  e.g. “The Wonder Woman character existed long before this actress – the movie’s still worth celebrating!” I was called racist. Intersectionality was used against me… disappointing.  This placed not just Eastern feminism against Western feminism but feminism within the West.  Behind the scenes analysis of the politics what appears and doesn’t is far more interesting to me than the actual movie.

CL: My voice can be sought out to fill a diversity quota.  e.g. speaking on Aboriginal Beauty Pageants – didn’t see celebration of Aboriginal beauty as worth working for (dress, heels, make up…) told I’m denigrating my racial identity. White panellists get slut shaming… called fat… whore… but not racial commentary.

RH: I get racial and gendered criticism. “This Ruby Hamas bitch has both clit-envy and penis-envy” – manages to be offensive on Arabic, Muslim, terrorist, gender – so many layers! I shared it on my page to diffuse it. Not about me but anyone who shares these characteristics.

CL: Comments on how I look, highly gendered, but go back to words like “quadroon”.  I sometimes take the piss or shut it down… I’d like to be called a whore for once and not something that’s dissecting my race! I was on a panel of feminists once – I said something about “smashing systems” in my introductory statements and was sidelined for the rest of the panel – the white feminists talked amongst themselves.  Those that have to navigate gender + race + disability – they are more extreme/radical because they have more to overcome. It was a horrible experience. It was a basic entry-level discussion, why weren’t we part of that conversation? I was only asked for “special comments” re race in the closing questions.

RH:  Any event invitation I receive I’m asking , am I token or not? Do they value my voice and what I have to say? And then I say, whatever… they’re still giving me a platform.  I long for the day I’m asked to talk about politics, and my experience… not as a labelled pigeon-hole “Muslim” or “Aboriginal”.

CL: The person who is Trans and Aboriginal and woman and has a disability and from a low class background… we need to amplify her voice.  Smash at all those levels at once.

RH: If they are liberated, everyone is liberated. “identity politics” shouldn’t set us against but with. I’ve always tried to bring identity politics back to broader oppression.

CL: The show the Handmaids Tale – loved it at first, then I started to see the mainstream reaction.  Women enslaved, bred, imprisoned… with religion used as justification. That was one generation ago for me. Oh, white women are going to be treated like Aboriginal and African-American women. In the book the slaves are unequivocally white, coloured people are shipped off to die from radiation.  Some kudos to the author for sticking to what she knows but in the TV show, in this Fascist, Puritan,  authoritarian world… women of colour are also selected for breeding with wealthy white men and I should believe it?! This is white-washing racial dynamics. “This is just around the corner for us” This white response is not helpful compared to that of people of colour which says: welcome to our world – this has already happened and is happening.

RH: “Can you imagine if there’ll be a war?!” [re Trump/Korea] Yes. I have already lost half my family to that. I don’t need to imagine what that’s like.

CL:  When we are blended into white narrative, we’re not given our own.

RH: Given a female Dr. Who – that was a big deal.  An Arab actor was recently cast to play the leading role in Aladdin. An Arab not in a role as a terrorist or savage illiterate – those roles that have been used to perpetuate negative stereotypes.  Can’t just think about gender (woman as Dr. Who), that an Arab man is cast in the role of Aladdin is far more significant for me.  Is feminism the new weapon of whiteness? We hardly heard anything about that casting at all.

Question: How do you balance the need to be calm to be taken seriously vs. expressing righteous/legitimate anger?

CL: A bit of anger is good, use it to tear the system apart. I have no obligation to make racist, sexist, wealthy people feel safe.  e.g  Heritier Lumumba in doco Fair Game, laughed along with racist insults in the locker room to try and fit in… you never win that way.  We need to use our anger in legitimate and practical ways.

Question: What would your top-three recommended structural interventions be?

CL: I’m part of the union movement. Anything that draws attention to the structural issues.  Intersectional engagement is often superficial.  Highlighting – make sure other voices are heard e.g. An Aboriginal man will have different views than me, or a more conservative woman… there is not one homogenous view for women or for Aboriginal people.

RH: Acknowledge there is a problem.  Still at that level… can’t think of a list of structural changes yet when still trying to get people to acknowledge that there’s a problem. Need to be given power/influence – in media, politics… I guess I’m still trying to find that answer.  I don’t think we’re close to solving that.  Need to see more women from non-white backgrounds opinions valued… to talk in general terms.

Question: Do you have any advice for emerging voices?  How do you decide which point of view will be appropriate to speak from, how do you get past that/prevent silencing?

RH: I didn’t write about anything happening in the Arab/Muslim sphere for ages.  Mortified when something I wrote was appropriated by people who hate me.  I don’t wear a veil but cultural still encouraged to be quiet, modest… I learned to pick a time to broach it. Try to ever do it in a way that isolates Muslims, there’s sexism and racism across all cultures.  I cop a lot of backlash from my community but lovely messages from young Muslim women makes it worthwhile – scarcely – becomes ammunition for racists.  I had to learn that I can’t be responsible for how they use or mis-use my words.

CL: I was terrified to talk about violence against Aboriginal women.  That conversation is used to assimilate to whiteness and religion, a conversation owned by conservative Aboriginal people, for example if I write a piece protesting Dondale and Invasion Day turn around and say “why don’t you care about violence towards Aboriginal women?” Used to indicate that I don’t care.  Exhausting process to do but I counted the numbers over the past two years.  I need to defend space for my own voice. This argument is used to denigrate my other work.

 

 

 

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Ethnic church:

  • challenges for the younger generation
  • parents history
  • ethnic culture and values
  • links to culture and religion
  • evangelism and discipleship approach – believe need to be saved rather than a gracious understanding of faith and relationship with God
  • parents acculturation response
  • younger generation’s experiences with culture, identity and belonging

What was/is your experience of ethnic church or the first time you experienced being it as ‘different’?

~ Confucius quotes ~ learning memory verses ~ emphasis on listening to your elders (honour your mother and father) ~ formal dress = not refugees, we will dress well to reflect our new status ~ a successful look synonymous with a Western look ~ In India we would dress nicely for church but here in Australia no, I’m daggy when I go back! ~ 

Berry’s Acculturation Model

In transition between old culture to new people will typically have one of 4 main responses:


Marginalisation {not identifying with the host culture}

Assimilation {absorbed into the new culture}

Integration {previous culture maintained and participate in the new culture}

Separation {previous culture maintained and new culture rejected}


This is frequently a zero-sum game – how do we forge new opportunities?

When did you first experience race?

~ moving from one country to another: Philippines to India, then to Oz ~ excursion protocol – don’t know what’s happening (have to learn) ~ sports team – they wouldn’t pass the ball to me ~ not around coloured people until Uni, grew up in a white neighbourhood ~ First day of Year 1, got asked: “Where are you from?” …I was born in this town, I’d never had a sense of being from somewhere else! ~ Broke up with my boyfriend and got called “Ching chong” and told to “go back to where you came from” ~

What is race?

  1. Arbitrary system of classification
  2. Hierarchal system (superior and inferior)
  3. Naturalise and make the system the norm, make invisible the effects e.g. denial of rights, wealth and resource distribution

Transmission of these ideas about race occur in representation and are reiterated until ‘race’ becomes  realities. eg. if pen (object) and writing (concept) communicated through language – the pen (signifier) therefore the meaning becomes attached to the object.

Media perpetuates these myths/representations e.g Vietnamese community treating international students badly that work in their restaurants, Vietnamese community wasn’t consulted or invited to speak to the issue > don’t get to choose the story that gets told about our community.

Who do you identify as?

 ~ I call myself second generation Korean but I don’t like it when others do it (bring what they think that means) ~ pass… Australian… Child of God ~ Child of God first, Vietnamese and Australian ~ NZ European/Pakeha and Maori (Ngai Tahu) claim this when it feels like it’s a benefit eg. Maori electoral roll >representation in NZ Parliament but not to claim/take anything ~ Indian-Australian (rejection of Indian culture, don’t know enough about culture & history) ~ Australian/Filipino – never one or the other ~

Ref: The Whiteness Project (youtube)

Ref: Race the Power of an Illusion (documentary)

Johann Blumenbach came up with the categories:

Caucasian – white
Mongolian – yellow
Malayan – brown
Ethiopian – black

Rev James Black Roland: “Let us keep before us the noble ideal of white Australia, a snow white if you will. Let us be pure and spotless.”

How does ‘whiteness’ function in your life? (personally, professionally, at church…?)

~ my workplace, need representation of other people of colour on the Council ~ white, straight hair, feminine = beautiful. Tried to be something I’m not eg. Jonah from Tonga show ~ Safest I’ve ever been. Can figure out what “Indian” means for me ~feel the poverty of being ‘stuck’ with white people – established systems and processes both at work and in community ~ Party culture – don’t fit in. Assimilated Asians treat me badly. Need to be funny, out-spoken, tell stories… church is accommodating > understand each others brokenness. Asian guy – Maths or The Hangover archetypes ~ “If you want to be competitive with white people you need to overachieve” (YES from the group) became my coping mechanism.  Colonised at home/church, assume you’re assimilated and it’s used against you.  Have learnt now to feel more comfortable there (white space than I do within my own cultural community). Jarring moments of being brought to awareness of your non-whiteness eg. insult calling based on colour (school had felt like safe space until then) ~

Operating across a lot of levels: personal/institutional/systemic…
how do we develop racial literacy?

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The Walk for Justice for Refugees is about standing up for the human rights of those seeking asylum in Australia. This largely secular action is held on Palm Sunday – as people of faith, knowing there is a way where it seems there is no way – how might we hold a space to liturgise and lament and to sing within this broader movement? The following is a bit of a photo essay from the day with some of our thinking around what we are trying to create and hold space for by participating in events like these.

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Welcome is a complex issue on un-ceded land. Although palms might be the branch of Welcome in Jerusalem in this country gum leaves have a lot of symbolism – burned they are said to have healing and cleansing properties of bad spirits. How spirit-sore and shadowed are refugees arriving in Australia? If a member of the Wurundjeri offers you gum leaves they are indicating that you are welcome to everything from the tops of the leaves to the roots of the earth, we are symbolically linked and share in honouring the ancestors that have tended the land for many, many thousands of years. Is it appropriate to carry gum leaves in the walk? Or both gum leaves and palm fronds to acknowledge this complexity?

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This group is about attending the Palm Sunday march as a cohort – how might we want to distinguish ourselves within the broader crowd? what message of kingdom-on-earth do we have to communicate? One example is that often the crowd chants at these configure themselves as “anti” something and can communicate negativity, what might a message be that communicates hope and indicates what we are “for”?

Above Sam has an IHH bag, her LMAW #Bringthemhere hat, some of the Million Stars Against Violence and bracken from Gembrook Retreat as her foliage.

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Welcoming people from other countries since time immemorial. Responding to “boat people” since 1788. The walk is coming up this Sunday – what do you want to say about welcome this weekend? Is it short, percussive and meaningful? How about: “Bring them here. Let them stay. We believe love makes a way”? What is the sound bite and deep heart’s call to justice you want to hear called out?

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Here’s some feel-good clickbait if you haven’t already seen it (watch it again anyway), when we stop using labels that create designations of ‘them’ and ‘us’ we might have more in common than we know. I was listening to Fly My Pretties yesterday, the lyrics of the song are “We can make a life, we can make a life worth living”. That is a hope of people arriving here and for all of us who see the image of God in every person we meet and want to see God’s kingdom here on earth – let’s make the world we want to live in.

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Anne Lamott has said, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” Here are some examples of prayer stations that explore this idea of “You are welcome here” using scripture references from Ched Myers book Our God is Undocumented” – whose voices set and shape the ways you show welcome?

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What is your cultural tail? 28% of Australians were born overseas (Census 2016), many more would have parents born overseas. When we say things like “I’m nothing” or “I have no culture” it’s worth noting that only the dominant-culture can say that, this white-washing language (pun intended) at best colonises existing culture and at worst ignores it: the legacy of Terra Nullius continues. Naming our own cultural tail is significant for relating well to the culture that was and is already here as well as affirming and celebrating cultural diversity generally in Australia. Is there something you can wear to the Palm Sunday march that could celebrate cultural diversity? An item of clothing or jewellery, a badge or flag that celebrates your cultural history and thereby all culture – past and present?

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On singing: many songs we might sing together are short, rounds, call and repeat don’t worry about song sheets or knowing the words… please bring your own too – we love learning new ones so that we can sing about it until it can be realised!

Walking home one night, I came across what looked like a torn up dictionary outside the McDonalds on Ballarat Rd.  I’m into a bit of upcycling and paper craft – it makes sense to use books/paper that are being thrown out anyway and this has little illustrations… No cover, torn in sections, mouldy and weathered, unwanted… except for me who’s picking up rubbish thinking “Cute.” and “Score!”

Looking more closely once I got my prize home, I realise it’s not a dictionary but rather some sort of encyclopaedia and it’s old. Really old. Old enough that it’s quite offensive – mostly for its omissions rather than what it explicitly says, for example in a section called “Australia’s History: Chief events in chronological order…”spanning 1788-1939, I can see only one reference made regarding an aboriginal person or place and that was “1876 Death of Truganini, last of Tasmanian aborigines”.  I look her up online to know her story.

A visitor on country myself, I have not (and continue) not to know very much about what right relationship looks like between people and the land. Not having the right words and being afraid of saying the wrong ones, I try and stay silent. To listen and to learn. I have heard people talk about their family members, homes, and culture being lost through colonisation. I have heard them talk about losing language and here am I finding some lying by the side of the road. I find myself wishing I could give it back to who it belongs to.

 

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