WAKE-UP CALL: Dad wants end to racism so kids can be safe
WHEN Chinemerem Ude's three-year-old daughter grows up, he doesn't want her to face the racism he has encountered since migrating from Nigeria five years ago.
The young father of three called for greater acceptance of people from different cultural backgrounds as Warwick celebrates Harmony Week.
Mr Ude has been living in the region for a year and when he first came to town, one potential employer told him he would never find a job because of the colour of his skin.
Now working in retail, he has proved them wrong.
But Mr Ude said there was still a long way to go in promoting multiculturalism.
While he has made good friends in Warwick and embraced Australian culture through his love of sport, the divisive encounters still flow.
"My biggest fear is that my daughter is going to grow up with these things and people are going to treat her like that as well," he said.
He said racism at its most extreme could put people in real danger.
"I was nearly run over in the car park once," he said.
Mr Ude believes the incident was racially motivated, but decided not to take it to the police.
Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network co-founder Emma Yates said recent events like the Christchurch mosque shootings should come as a lesson to end divisive words and behaviour.
"I think it as much of a wake-up call for us in the Southern Downs as anyone in Australia," she said.
"One of the things that has come out so clearly is how incredibly important it is as a community that we are really conscious of our language and don't say things that seek to divide or dehumanise people."
Ms Yates said politics had a lot to answer for.
"My personal opinion is that we have had policies and politics that have deliberately sought to dehumanise, and in my mind there is a direct connection there with what happened in Christchurch," she said.
"That is something that our politicians and all of as Australians really need to look at."
With an election looming, Ms Yates said now was the time to start addressing the questions.
"What kind of Australia do we want to be? Do we want to be welcoming and compassionate and inclusive or the opposite?" she said.
Filipino woman and SDRAMN executive member Fiori Cruz said Warwick was accepting of multicultural groups, but events like Harmony Week were important for advancing inclusion.
Ms Yates said changes could be made through the mindset of individuals.
"I think more than anything it is a mindset and an openness so when you see someone who looks different you are open to having a positive interaction," she said.
"It's seeing that we have more in common and being friendly or welcoming."