The Museum of Freedom and Tolerance has partnered with the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University to initiate One of Us, an ongoing conversation about complicity and critique designed in response to the Christchurch Massacre in New Zealand on 15 March 2019.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened an official book of condolences for the victims of the Christchurch attacks with the words “they are us“.  Radio New Zealand March 18, 2019

Weourusthem are the most basic units of defining belonging and non-belonging. Prime Minister Ardern chose to redefine these terms within her nation, claiming as kin the victims of the Christchurch massacre and disowning the killer. Yet, in other contexts, the killer was humanised, in line with his own self-representation as “an ordinary white man” — someone who could be “one of us.”

Who are “we”? Who is “one of us”? Who are we part of? Whose humanity do we recognise as akin to ours?

During our symposium, community members, academics and artists considered the fraught term, one of us, exploring questions of the normalization of racism, everyday Islamophobia, and the connections between various forms of othering – “us and them” – in Australia.  We also considered the implications of the Sri Lanka Easter bombings, that killed more than 250 people on 21 April 2019.

Our speakers discussed their response to the attacks, and how to recognise and resist the destructive identifications of us and them and the ways in which they are reproduced in our daily lives.

One of Us event: 2 May 2019, State Library of Western Australia

Listen to all sessions from the event on Anchor, Spotify or Apple.

Visit the Deathscapes website for photos and video from the event HERE.

Featuring:  Sky Croeser, Yahiya Ibrahim, Karim Jabbari (video), John Kinsella,  Marilyn Metta, Marziya Mohammedali,  Ayman Qwaider, Sabah Rind, Sara Saleh (video),  Kim Scott, Rabia Siddique,  Fadzi Whande, Yirga Woldeyes.

Convenors: Shaheen Hughes, Hannah McGlade, Marziya Mohammedali,  Suvendrini Perera

Organising Committee: Michelle Bui, Sky Croeser, Thor Kerr, Marilyn Metta, Baden Offord, Ayman Qwaider, Antonio Traverso.

Garden of Healing

Gardens can be places of profound sanctuary, remembrance, reflection and regrowth. For many cultures and religions, they are paradise.

In the idea of ‘us’, we must pay respect to our common humanity, and remember the victims of racial and religious violence.  We are all ‘us’, or should be, in a truly inclusive society, no matter the colour of our skin or where we choose to pray.

Our virtual garden of healing is a project that seeks to build a garden of the most diverse nature, where all of us can heal.  Take some time to remember, to reflect and to begin the journey of rebuilding we must all share.

In our virtual garden, we are planting flowers from all around the world, in memory and empathy of brothers and sisters lost to racial and religious violence, the massacres committed on the soil on which we stand in Australia and around the world.

We invite you to be part of our garden of healing, and to contribute an image or artwork of a flower, with a small note, quote, a name, an event, a feeling or a story.

Post this on Instagram or Facebook and tag @mftwa, using the hashtag #gardenofhealing or email your contribution to info@mftwa.org.au. We’ll add your contribution to a growing and permanent virtual memorial garden archive.

Keeping the conversation going

In his powerful speech in the Senate, Senator Pat Dodson stated, “We turn our back against xenophobia, against hate crimes and against any gunmen who hold innocent people in their sights. We call out those who exploit fear and ignorance for political gain, who mock the traditional dress of women of another culture, who seek donations from the manufacturer of weapons of war to override our own laws and who argue that it’s all right to be white. Their actions and exhortations would plunge this country back into the killing times. You’ve got to remember that this history is well known to First Nations peoples.”