Roanna Gonsalves says in a world where people like US president Donald Trump are pushing for a one-way view of society now is more important than ever for people from minority groups to tell their stories.
Ms Gonsalves will be speaking as part of the Writing Race panel from the Sydney Writer’s Festival which will be live streamed to a Port Macquarie audience on May 26.
The local festival runs over three days from May 26 until May 28 and gives people the opportunity to hear from a number of distinguished writers from the Ross Family Studio at the Glasshouse.
Ms Gonsalves is an advocate for self expression which she describes as taking a selfie with literature.
“We need to encourage minority writers to tell their own stories from their own perspective not through any one else,” she said.
Ms Gonsalves describes the world as a diverse place in terms of colour, race, age and ability.
“Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same,” she said.
However Ms Gonsalves said there are barriers for people across the world to tell their stories.
She said many accounts can be lost in translation or can not be accessed because they are written in different languages.
The Writing Race panel will delve into particular stories about what it means to be a person from a minority background.
The audience is invited to understand and empathise with these particular accounts.
Ms Gonsalves said race issues need to be pushed to the forefront and explored in the context of the ‘oppressive climate we live’.
Ms Gonsalves came to Australia as an adult from India. While she hasn’t been beaten up physically she knows people who have. She has been verbally abused and told to ‘go back to where she came from’.
She said she lives and works in a patriarchal society where whiteness is the majority and considered the norm.
It took 18 years for Ms Gonsalves’ book to be published and she said she could not do it without the generosity and support of people in Australia.
She said people from other cultures aren’t so lucky.
Her advice to others is to trust in their work, reach out for support and be persistent.
Ms Gonsalves’ book The Permanent Resident is a collection of short stories about Indians in Australia.
For more information about the festival program or to book tickets visit www.glasshouse.org.au