Democracy in Colour: New racial justice advocacy group to launch in Canberra

Democracy in Colour: New racial justice advocacy group to launch in Canberra

A new national racial justice advocacy group, Democracy in Colour, is launching across the country with an event to be held in Canberra on Thursday at Lyneham's The Front.

Founding director Tim Lo Surdo pointed to the return of Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the success of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US as reasons he established the group.

Canberra organiser of Democracy in Colour Clayton Simpson.

Canberra organiser of Democracy in Colour Clayton Simpson. Credit:Jamila Toderas

He hopes to address structural racism in Australia with petitions, protests and discussions around the issue of race and how people of colour are perceived nationally.

"We hold political, corporate and cultural leaders to account on the things they say and do around race," Mr Lo Surdo said.


Mr Lo Surdo pointed to the comments made by Today Extra co-host Sonia Kruger last year calling for an end to Muslim immigration.

He said Democracy in Colour would have organised a rapid response campaign with petitions and social media campaigns calling on companies to withdraw funding for Today Extra until Ms Kruger issued an apology or stepped down.

Canberra organiser and campaigner Clayton Simpson said his organisation was keen to get resources out there to educate people on issues of race in the ACT.

"We're shaking things up but it's for the better. It's all for the best of Australia," Mr Simpson said.

"This is the best country in the world and we have the chance to make it even better."

A local issue Mr Simpson pointed to was Canberra's homeless population, the highest per capita nationally, with Indigenous Australians over-represented.

Mr Simpson hoped people would feel inspired at Thursday's launch.

"We've got a chance to talk about the elephant in the room and that elephant is entrenched institutionalised structural racism. We're over it," he said.

Mr Simpson stressed it wasn't an organisation exclusive to people of colour but it was lead by people of colour.

Mr Lo Surdo said other groups which advocated against racism in Australia were well meaning, but ultimately lead by white people who used people of colour as a victim narrative.

"We want to show there's a political cost for weaponising our differences," Mr Lo Surdo said.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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