People / Resolutions

Turn heartbreak into action: the time for change is now

Charlee Frazer Charles Dennington how to change racism

We're on the edge. At least we hope we are. James Baldwin said that "any real change implies the breakup of the world as we've always known it". And what awaits us depends on the here and now.

Last week, we were heartbroken by the death of George Floyd, by racism and systemic violence in the USA. Closer to home, we ached for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People and the world at large, as Indigenous Australian rock shelters dating back 46,000 years were destroyed to make way for an iron ore mine. It was a poignant example of ignorance, racism and oppression that extends - too - to Aboriginal Australian deaths in custody. These past few days have brought that all to the fore.

We've felt helpless. But we're not. We can learn, and we can act.

I guess what I'm saying is that for those - like me - in the majority, heartache isn't enough. We need to do something.

While the true intention of our recent period of self-isolation has been to protect society at large - there's no denying that, for many of us, it's been an introspective time. Perhaps we needed a reminder that improving the world begins with ourselves. While that's still relevant, recent events have made it glaringly obvious that we must turn our gaze outwards, too. To engage and importantly, to listen. To educate ourselves on just what needs to change, and how. With the world on a precipice, the future depends on it.

When bad things happen - pandemics, recessions, environmental degradation, injustices, infringements of human rights - far too often, it is people in minorities who are most impacted: among them Indigenous peoples and people of colour. Those of us in the majority have a responsibility. Where we lack experience, we must listen. What we don't know, we should research. If we feel uncomfortable unpacking our privilege, we must ask ourselves why. And do the work.

We know we can do more. So we are gathering resources - books, audible and visual resources we can all use to inform ourselves about race and histories of violence - and the organisations to support on the ground. We're hearing Indigenous Australian voices. We're drawing on the knowledge of our community. With respect to improving our world, we're examining proposed changes to the fashion system.

And, importantly, we want to hear from you. Contact us on @russhmagazine or at [email protected] with information, organisations or education you want to share.

Change may be overdue. But what we do now - and keep doing - will define our future. Another quote by James Baldwin keeps on running through our minds: "The world is before you, and you need not take it our leave it as it was when you came in."


Image: Charlee Fraser photographed by Charles Dennington for the Spiritualized issue. Read the interview here.