Inside every person is an ocean of stories. In a visual world, we often only see what lies on the surface, forgetting the intricate, detailed and deep layers that every individual has. A story filled with endless chapters. The laughter, joy, pain, hurt and tears. When we read, we build an understanding of the characters, the plot and the story becomes vivid within our imagination. Reading builds empathy. Growing up in a multicultural society, there are people from various backgrounds and cultures.
There are many silent stories waiting to be heard. Remember how children’s book’s would make us laugh, cry, wide eyed in curiosity, and intrigue us to know more. When we take interest in others, we express care and compassion and we show the desire to understand. Stereotypes, assumptions and judging someone from a brief moment can be incredibly damaging, as well as the number of stereotypes that have been deeply ingrained in the media and society.
As aspect that has been on my mind more particularly since last year is the concept of casual racism. We have to acknowledge that racism and discrimination exists in New Zealand. The earliest memories of racism that I can recollect start from primary school, observing my parents interactions with other people when they first arrived in New Zealand and the numerous stereotypes and ignorant comments.
The daily microaggressions, experiencing different treatment in certain situations and the language that may occur in conversations are common experiences. The comments that someone should go back to their country, the judgment of one’s English fluency, the lack of respect for cultural differences, the comments on food or one’s appearances, the stereotyping and backhanded comments can often be experiences that are had in silence or not witnessed by other people.
Our stories are a part of us. It takes courage to share our stories. However, it can be incredibly freeing and it can be a source of greater connection and understanding of ourselves and others. Our stories are like a strong string that attaches us to one another forming a bond. They open the room for conversations on topics that may not be commonly spoken about. Sharing our stories can also be a process of healing, reflection and growth. They can broaden our minds and create change. The more we share our stories, the more we realise we are all connected.
Your voice matters. Taking the time to listen and understand someone’s story is incredibly valuable. It makes us realise that every person has been through their own hurts, pain, success, failure, struggles and achievements. If you ever have the chance, take time to listen to individual stories of different backgrounds. We can take action when we recognize the signs of discrimination taking place. When we hear from different voices it enables our world view to widen.
Art by Kate Pugsley