At the opening of the Wellington exhibition, Tawa College student Rachel Digney gave a moving and relatable speech about the importance of the story of Anne Frank for today’s youth. Here it is in full:
“Anne Frank is so important because even as a 14-year-old girl she sets an example - she shows all the people who aided the end of her life how things should be. Despite everything she had to go through, giving up her young and free life which was very much like my own today, she does not give way to hate. She has a pure and peaceful view of how the world should be. The reason why we have this Anne Frank exhibition is because it is a part of world history that we still need to learn from.
Anne Frank: Let Me Be Myself speaks for itself - we still seem to have the inability to open our eyes wide enough to see the difference between what is real and what we have been taught by society to believe. My mum always tells me a story about something I did in kindergarten, many many years ago. My best friend was a boy named Zack. One day I came home to my mum in shock and said to her, “Did you know that Zack’s parents are black?” From my point of view Zack was just my friend, the naughtiest boy in class, and the fastest runner.
One of my biggest wishes is that we could see each other through the eyes of a child, so that a person's race is the last thing we see. It is so disappointing that the death of 6 million Jews has not taught us that peace cannot coincide with prejudice. As a teenager living in New Zealand in 2018 I still see this discrimination every day. Even just recently, my friends and I were introduced to a man and this man stepped forward and only shook my male friend's hand. Anne Frank said it herself: “Women should be respected as well!” She said this in 1944 - that’s 74 years ago, yet I still don’t get handshakes - or equal pay.
Sexism isn’t the only kind of discrimination in New Zealand. Research shows that one in every six Maori people are now living in Australia. A man called Simon Ranginui is one of those people and he states that "New Zealand is racist, no matter how you look at it" and that Maori were valued in Australia as hard workers. Even at my college, which I think is great, Maori students don’t get the same support as I do because it's assumed by some teachers that they just haven’t tried, because they were too busy being stereotypically loud, boisterous Maori kids.
I think what we all need to do is open our eyes a little wider, so we can notice our own discrimination before we can fix it or start blaming other people. We all need to see through the eyes of someone like Anne Frank to be able to see how peaceful everything could be if we saw everyone as a human being rather than a race or gender.”