Odd socks paired up to fight racism

A joke about racism has made two brothers very serious about changing the world.

14 August 2020
Two boys stand outside their school
Image: Feet first: Brothers Nazar and Ziad El Tobgy are inspiring fellow students to think differently about discrimination.

When Nazar El Tobgy was in Year 3 at Milton Public School he was challenged by a friend’s declaration that Nazar was racist because he wore black socks.

The claim came after Nazar had delivered a speech discussing his background as the child of an Egyptian father and Australian mother for a multicultural public speaking competition.

"One of my friends jokingly said I was racist because I wasn't wearing white socks,” Nazar said.

"The next day I started wearing one black and one white sock and I have been doing it ever since.

"Everywhere I walk around I am making an anti-racism statement.”

Having confronted racism from an early age, Nazar said he had realised anger only reinforced people’s attitudes and that his ‘silent statement’ was a powerful way to make people think.

He said his parents were very supportive of the campaign.

"My dad is black and my mum is white and that’s like my socks so that is another layer that comes with it.”

Two sets of feet in shoes both with one black sock and one white sock.
Image: Odd couple: A close-up of Nazar and Ziad's shoes

Brothers in arms

Nazar, now 14 and in Year 9 at Ulladulla High School, is joined in his odd-sock approach by his brother Ziad, Ulladulla High School vice-captain.

Today the brothers are launching an awareness campaign to spread their message further.

The brothers are encouraging all students to wear one black sock and one white sock as a show of solidarity against racism.

Nazar said a number of people at school and in the community had now adopted the practice.

“It makes me feel fantastic as it is turning into something bigger and I think I’ve done my part in helping change what people think,” he said.

Nazar cited the example of a person who had racially abused his brother, but after talking to him about his concerns, he was now helping in their campaign.

Ulladulla High School principal Denise Lofts said the school was incredibly proud of the brothers.

“You cannot help but be inspired by Nazar and Ziad who are making us all think about the deep issue of racism,” she said.

“This will be a show of solidarity against racism of any kind at our school and beyond, in support of all minorities and people of any different culture or colour.

“This movement is subtle and clever and allows us to start up the conversation for change.”

Students can join the campaign by posting photos of their odd socks with the hashtag #1black1white #socksforEquality

  • Student voices
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