In Conversation: Gloria Tabi on countering everyday racism

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


On 1 May, Creators of Peace New South Wales hosted Gloria Tabi, a Masters of Research student at Western Sydney University, in their monthly speaker series. A specialist in social analysis of race, Black identity, and anti-racism initiatives, she spoke with the international Zoom audience about her life and research work.

Gloria was born in Ghana on the west coast of Africa, an area that was much affected by the historic slave trade. She came to Australia in her late teens to study at university, with the intention of going back to Ghana and making life better for people living in poverty. However, she met her future husband at university, and stayed on in Australia—now with their four adult children.

At the age of 40, Gloria enrolled in a Masters program as a mature-age student. She felt that, with her own experience as an educated Black woman and person of faith, she could do something about ‘that beast’ racism, which affects people in all walks of life and around the world. Today, she hosts a podcast, ‘Voicing Everyday Racism’, and speaks about ‘the inescapable relationship of the colonized and colonizer.’

In her talk with Creators of Peace, Gloria spoke of how colonisers of European background often applied racial categories to divide and conquer, using both religion and violence to boost their own power. She highlighted the case of Australia’s First Nations, who only in 1967 were ‘granted’ citizenship, after being displaced and subjugated in their traditional lands.

She noted that the ongoing impacts of colonialism extend to this day, for example, in the loss of Indigenous mother tongues, leading to psychological impacts among First Nations people. The older generation, who were separated from traditional culture and language at a young age, became unable to fully express emotions in the new language of the colonisers—a loss, she said, that continues to be felt today.

To conclude, Gloria suggested practical actions that listeners could take: supporting First Nations causes, such as the National Justice Project, a not-for-profit legal service; shopping at Indigenous-owned businesses such as Clothing the Gaps; and learning a local Indigenous language.

Her website and podcast series, Voice Everyday Racism, is a platform for people to speak about everyday racism they encounter, and a space for others to learn from those at the receiving end of racism.

Further reading: Unmasking the Racial Contract: Indigenous Voices on Racism in the Australian Public Service (2020) by Dr Debbie Bargallie, a Kamilaroi and Wonnarua woman. The book is the first to use race as a key framework to critically examine the discrimination faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants. 

- Tanya Fox