Behind this smile I see my people trying to change themselves to fit in.
When I came to Australia 16 years ago, it was different, there wasn’t any help, and there is help now. Being new in this country we all want to learn. We want to come here and get a new life, we want to bring our own culture as well, and we want to enjoy a life where the two cultures come together. We have to mix it up to learn and grow. The young ones come here now and they go straight to school, but the elderly come like I did, with no language, no English, and it is very hard in our community. We try to change ourselves to fit in and the biggest part of that change is the need to learn. The young ones can learn fast because they are in school, but the older ones find it difficult. It is hard to change.
You have to think of racism as the need to learn, to know the right way. When we are close to each other, living in the same country, the same state, same suburb, same street, same village, we have to get to know each other. We are the new tribe here, you are in your tribe and we have to come together. I try to help our people learn the right way. I tell them we have to follow the ruling country; we have to learn to know them. If we learn, then later we will improve. There are a lot of things we don’t know, but we can learn. I have to look at you and I have to know which way you are showing me; if you are showing me the right way then I can follow and learn. We have to learn the right way. If we follow the right way, we will get the benefit; we will all get the benefit. I love to follow people that do the right thing, that know the right way.
You can see Akon's image at Laverton Community Hub, Altona North Library and Altona Meadows Library