Ballarat’s Samara Muir had one thing to say to racially vilified African teenager Benedicta Amedegnato.
“Black is beautiful,” she said before nestling her head against Ms Amedegnato’s shoulder. They were powerful words from the four-year-old who was crowned a princess by the world after being victim to vicious racist attack during a trip to a Disney-themed children’s event in Melbourne last June.
But, almost a year to the day Samara was subjected to a spate of racial slurs from a mother and her two daughters while she was dressed as Queen Elsa from the animated film Frozen, three African teenagers were vilified on the streets of Ballarat.
Ms Amedegnato and two of her African friends were chased down Sturt Street by a man and woman in brazen and race provoked attack. The women were called “black dogs” and told to “go back to their own country”.
Samara’s mum Rachel Muir said the family was left shattered by the harrowing attack in their own hometown.
“It really hit us,” Ms Muir said. “I couldn’t believe that it happened because it shouldn’t happen. When I think about what Samara went through, for older kids to go through that too, it’s just not fair.”
Ms Amedegnato came to Australia six years ago after fleeing her homeland of Togo when a political war unfolded which killed several members of her family, including her father.
“I’ve been stopped on the street by people telling me how sorry they were for what happened,” Ms Amedegnato said. “It’s made me realise not all people are bad. There are so many good people. They far outweigh the ones who would attack somebody because of the colour of their skin.”
The emotional meeting came during NAIDOC week, which celebrates the achievements of Australia’s Indigenous community. Ms Muir said racism was rampant across Australia but she believed the majority of Ballarat people were kind.
“Nobody is born into this world a racist,” she said. “It’s learnt behaviour. It can be changed through more education and acceptance of all types of people. We all bleed red. We are all equal.”
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