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MHS Library | Issues

Black Lives Matter

It isn't hard to unpick the true beliefs of Australian All Lives Matter advocates. They often deny the oppression Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people face and race-bait for their advantage. In Australia, we know about the appalling treatment of First Nations people. Often, we hear calls to send back asylum seekers into the dangerous waters or back "home" despite the high chances of their death. In Victoria, the Liberal Party's last electoral campaign was full of dog-whistling on Melbourne's purported "African gangs" problem, which saw an increase in racism complaints to Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission by African and Muslim communities.

The Black Lives Matter movement matters in Australia because both structural and individual racism exists, and it can be changed. But in all honesty, all lives don't matter to All Lives Matter advocates, just drowning out voices of those suffering does. - Corey Rabaut, Glen Iris.

Opponents of the protests offered nothing

Scott Morrison, Daniel Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian could have prevented any health risks by seeking agreement to stop the Black Lives Matter protests by offering immediate negotiations with the march leaders for real outcomes for our Indigenous people.

Instead they tried to do what would not work: stop the protests on health grounds, and offer nothing.

Fred Tropp-Asher, Mooroolbark

A catalyst for tangible action

I decided to stay away from the Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne, because of the warnings about the dangers of mass gatherings during the pandemic. This decision was made with a heavy heart but I hope these protests are a catalyst for tangible action.

Our nation has an appalling history endured by First Nations people in terms of slaughter, dispossession, the stolen generations, disproportionate rates of incarceration and disadvantage. Many of these evils are still massive problems. At a time when there is a worldwide protest movement inspired by long-desired change, we must do something bigger than protest. We need real action to right centuries of wrong perpetrated by colonial settlement in this great southern land.

The governments of Australia need to accelerate the moves for a proper treaty with First Nations people. The Uluru Statement from the Heart must be adopted in its entirety.

It's time for a First Nations voice in Parliament, time for truth-telling in the stories of dispossession of First Nations people, time to change the date of Australia Day and time to replace the celebrations on Australia Day with acknowledgments of past wrongs.

Mary Howe, Bentleigh

Protests point towards a larger problem

The death of George Floyd in America has reminded the Australian people of just how horrifically Aboriginal Australians are treated by the criminal justice system and the hands of the police.

While showing our support and anger against such racism is justified, Saturday's protests point towards a larger problem. That is, if we must rely on the events of America to prompt our moral conscience, we will be waiting years if not an eternity for justice. We need to constantly show our support and anger, and not rely on our friend with a dodgier human rights record than ours to remind us.

Niamh Hopkins-Lichtman, Carnegie

The learning gap persists

Condoleezza Rice is right (Talking Point, 6/6) that "educational opportunity ... is a partial shield against prejudice", and she laments the "stubborn learning gap for black kids".

It's the same here. Year 12 attainment for our Indigenous students is improving but is only 66 per cent compared with 91 per cent Australia-wide. Indigenous year 10 students attend school about 72 per cent of the time compared with 89 per cent for others.

Dedicated educators ask the right questions and work on answers but the gap quietly persists. Where is the public outcry?

Neil Lennie, Box Hill North

(The Age)

Do something positive

Dear Prime Minister, the reason our Indigenous community felt the need to defy directives and proceed with the Black Lives Matter protest marches in spite of the COVID-19 crisis, is because Australian governments have largely sat on their hands since the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were released more than 25 years ago.

Governments have done virtually nothing to stem the ongoing inordinate incarceration rate, the appalling health, housing and education outcomes in Indigenous communities and the exploitation and destruction of Aboriginal traditional cultural areas.

Instead of hectoring people to stop protesting, do something positive by undertaking legislative and financial actions to significantly improve the lives of the Indigenous citizens of Australia. Government action matters.

Ray Cas, Ashwood  (The Age)

The better way exists

The massive surge in passionate support for the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia has led Scott Morrison to ask Australians to "find a better way" to express our support for our Indigenous citizens other than marching.

It's Morrison who needs to find a better way. The limited successes and multiple failures of the federal Closing the Gap program shows Indigenous government policy needs to find a better way.

This way must firstly include bipartisan acceptance, by the Coalition and Labor, of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, now more than three years old and counting. Counting damaged hopes and lives.

The statement's demand for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution was rejected by the Turnbull government. The time is now for PM Morrison and his party to redress this. How can government work with First Nations communities when it wants to define the process?

The demand in the Uluru Statement from the Heart for a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling between governments and First Nations should must surely be a priority task for our national cabinet. Now.

The better way exists: can our politicians walk the walk?

Greg Malcher, Hepburn Springs (The Age)

Saturday's protests

And what do you suggest, Michael O'Brien, would be more effective than protest marches in expressing people's anger and frustration at the universal inequality that exists between black and white?

Cath Dyson, Mount Eliza

 

Timely contributions

Both George Megalogenis and Stan Grant (The Age, 6/6) have offered timely conscience-raising articles. I would also offer another quote from James Baldwin written in 1962: "Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals precisely and inexorably what they do not know about themselves."

As a white person, I grew up with Captain Cook discovering Australia and nothing about the true history of this land. Much has had to be unlearned and continues to be unlearned. It is not enough to discuss racism, justice and spiritual theft, without understanding white privilege.

Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

The cause and symptom

The iconic names of Gandhi, Mandela and King are yet again being invoked as exemplars of peaceful protest and struggle against injustice and oppression in the 20th century but it is perhaps forgotten by some and airbrushed by others that in all these struggles at critical and repeated junctures, a fair amount of blood was shed to achieve the reforms won by these three leaders.

Also, under-recognised by too many is the reality that despite the achievements of these struggles, the inequalities and injustices of race, gender, caste, colonialism and, above all, class remain pervasive in the 21st century.

The continuing and intensifying inequalities of income, wealth, health, education, housing, imprisonment, security and safety are both cause and symptom of the multiple and systemic injustices experienced by billions in every nation.

These multiple injustices of inequality now stand alongside the various ecological disruptions and threats of global heating as the most significant failures of capitalism.

The single biggest question now faced by humanity is, after years of failure, can relatively peaceful reform produce sufficient reductions in inequality and global warming quickly enough, or will it require disruptive, violent action.

Stewart Sweeney, North Adelaide

Money works, apparently

For years successive conservative governments when asked what they are going to do about Aboriginal injustice or tertiary education or public housing or myriad other issues have answered "we can't just throw money at the problem".

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic has proved that this response is simply not true and must be called out. If governments really want to try to solve a problem they can always find the money for it.

Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South (The Age)

It's incredible how many #AllLivesMatter advocates here in Australia don't actually care about all lives. They intend to wash out the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

It isn't hard to unpick the true beliefs of Australian All Lives Matter advocates. They often deny the oppression Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people face and race-bait for their advantage. In Australia, we know about the appalling treatment of First Nations people. Often, we hear calls to send back asylum seekers into the dangerous waters or back "home" despite the high chances of their death. In Victoria, the Liberal Party's last electoral campaign was full of dog-whistling on Melbourne's purported "African gangs" problem, which saw an increase in racism complaints to Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission by African and Muslim communities.

The Black Lives Matter movement matters in Australia because both structural and individual racism exists, and it can be changed. But in all honesty, all lives don't matter to All Lives Matter advocates, just drowning out voices of those suffering does.  - Corey Rabaut, Glen Iris

Letters from The Big Issue 12/06/2020

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