Australians spice up anti-racist message
By KIRILEE DAGG
It has been called “Earth Hour but with food,” and although not as well known as its more established cousin, Vindaloo Against Violence aims to spread its message simply through a night of Indian dining.
The grass-roots event staged at Indian restaurants across Canberra and Australia was created to combat bad publicity sparked by several allegedly racially motivated attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.
As the event’s creator Mia Northrop planned, it was attended by Australians from many different racial backgrounds in an attempt to portray the idea that Australia is a safe place for foreigners. “Let’s signal to the Indian media and other international observers that everyday Australians do not accept racially motivated violence and racism,” Ms Northrop said on the official Vindaloo Against Violence website.
Although there have been no recent racially-motivated attacks in the ACT, the Schmooze Young Professional Group initiated Canberra’s dinner at Shalimar Restaurant in Civic, aiming it at students and recent graduates who wanted to show support to the Indian community.
Nidhi Joshi, the Schmooze intern in charge of the event, said that as an international student she wanted to help portray the idea that foreigners, especially Indians, don’t want to be misrepresented and are actually very happy in Australia.
“Though the Vindaloo Against Violence dinner, we are able to show that we can all sit in the same room without killing each other…,” she said.
“Some really negative things have been said in the Indian media. Yes, the attacks could be racially motivated, I’m not sure, but it shouldn’t be said that because of [racism] Australia is unsafe .” She said that Schmooze’s Violence Against Vindaloo dinner was not linked to any particular business or political interest group. Before publicising the event in Canberra, Schmooze had spoken to Indian community leaders who thought that it was a great idea.