New book highlights Macarthur authors' experiences with racism

Phoebe Grainer, Stephen Pham and Winnie Dunn are the co-editors of Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate and Bigotry. Picture: Supplied
Phoebe Grainer, Stephen Pham and Winnie Dunn are the co-editors of Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate and Bigotry. Picture: Supplied

Indigenous writers and writers of colour have shared their experiences with racism, xenophobia and prejudice in a powerful new anthology.

Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate and Bigotry was created by Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement in partnership with Campbelltown City Library.

The anthology book features writers from across south-western Sydney.

One of those writers is Minto's Ferdous Bahar.

Ms Bahar composed a short story for the book about a Muslim woman who overhears a friend talking negatively behind her back.

"I've definitely had similar experiences but the persona in this story is much more forthcoming and bold than I," she said.

"In the story, the persona confronts her friend, who she considered an ally, and said she would not pretend it didn't happen."

Ms Bahar said growing up in Macarthur's multicultural community, with the support of her friends and family, had cushioned her against racism.

"I didn't feel as much othering or difference then - it wasn't until I got older that I experienced some of the feelings that come with racism like not belonging and imposter syndrome," she said.

"Experiences of direct racism aren't super common, like people calling me names on public transport.

"But a lot of the conversations that I have had with people, even at my workplace, are around recognising how the white gaze and whiteness affects so much, like why there are so few people of colour who are judges or are in a position of power."

Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate and Bigotry features short stories, poems and essays by emerging and established writers who come from Indigenous, Arab, African, Asian, Latinx, African-American and Pasifika backgrounds.

Ms Bahar said the book was a good read, not just for people experiencing racism, but for those who perpetuate it.

"The anthology really extends beyond those who experience racism to those perpetuate racist beliefs," she said.

"There is a denial of racism in this country but this book is testament to the fact that it still exists.

"And it exists across generations... and socio-economic backgrounds."

The new anthology is part of an ongoing push by Sweatshop to bring more stories from culturally diverse communities to the forefront of Australian literature.

To purchase Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate & Bigotry, visit: www.sweatshop.ws.