Following the death of George Floyd on May 25, Indigenous Australians have been leading the conversation about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face the same dangers from authority in Australia.
Black lives matter is not about division or hate: it's about addressing the division and hate that creates a system where people of colour live in fear of being targeted by authorities because of the way they look, and confront every day the impacts of unconscious bias: how do we raise young black adults and teach them to trust authorities, when this is happening across the nation (and world)?
By Kristal Kinsela
I have struggled with the death of George Floyd.
Particularly with it being Reconciliation week, and understanding the reality that Indigenous Australians are not alone in this world when it comes to death and injustice at the hands of the police, the very people who are supposed to protect us.
I was first made aware of George Floyd’s death by my 15-year-old daughter. Her exact words were ‘Mum, another black man has died because of a police officer. How can this happen again?’
I asked her to show me, and she showed me some footage on her Instagram. My heart dropped.
First thoughts that went through my head were, how can I protect my children against seeing this stuff on social media. But then the reality is, this is life, and we will face racism and discrimination every day of our lives because of our identity and the colour of our skin, so why try and wrap it up in cotton wool?
My response back to her was simple:
Allayah, America like Australia is one of the most racist countries founded on white supremacy and colonisation. Some cops over there, like some cops here are racist and corrupt. They think they have the power to treat black people any way they want. There was a known silence between us, and nothing more was said.
Last night as I watched the news, my 13-year-old son walks in the room just as a police officer is shown tripping the legs of a 17-year-old Aboriginal boy, making him hit the ground hard and arresting him. I turned and saw his face in shock.
Again thinking about not wanting to cotton wool it, I said to my son, son this is why I don’t like you walking around the streets, because I fear you’re going to be picked up and abused by cops because of the colour of your skin. He said back to me, I know Mum. I know. Now is the time to start taking a stand. To start standing up and walking hand in hand with Indigenous people, letting us lead the way. Silence only adds and contributes to the problem. I’d love to say I live in the lucky Australia, a place that I never have to look over my shoulder, a place that I never have to fear racial discrimination, prejudice and bias. But unfortunately this is the cold hard reality: all I can do is do my part through how I live my life, through my work and the clients I work with, and the way the I raise my children to have the thickest skin.
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