Black Lives Matter
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 5, 10 July 2020, page no.6
After the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement began trending on social media and flooding our news feeds.
In Australia, rallies were held across capital cities and in regional and provincial areas. The call to action was that our country has its own issues when it comes to valuing the lives of Indigenous people.
Indigenous Australians have been facing systemic racism. Since 1991, there have been 432 Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia, and no one has been convicted.
A recent study conducted by the Australian National University showed that three out of four Australians tested for unconscious bias hold a negative view of Indigenous Australians.
As an organisation that has embraced reconciliation and as part of the Australian Union movement, the QTU will work to develop a strategy, in conjunction with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, in response to the Black Lives Matter/Indigenous Lives Matter campaign.
A recent meeting of the Redlands Logan Area Council observed: “The Australian Union Movement has a great history of working for justice and equality and needs to step up and keep a strategic focus on and implement practical actions that challenge and dismantle structural racism that sees Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over-policed, over-incarcerated and dying in custody.”
We need to be courageous regardless of the obstacles that stand in our way. Our strategy clearly states that the QTU is a non-discriminatory organisation and our strategic objectives call on the QTU to be recognised as a voice for members on social and human rights issues. To do this as an organisation, we need to practice allyship.
Kate Neilson from HRM online suggests we can start by:
- understanding what privilege means: there are some things in life that most of us will not have to experience or think about because of who we are.
- learning how to unlearn: we might be able to easily declare that we are “not-racist” but moving to a place where we are “anti-racist” and actively fighting against racism, as our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members have called on us to do, can be more challenging.
- preparing to be uncomfortable: when the time comes for us to take action, we need to be prepared to surrender our own comfort to put our words into action, including being mindful of what you post on social media and conversations you have with your friends, being prepared to call out racism when you see it.
- understanding that ally is a verb: it’s what we do, not what we write or say that matters - we need to be proactive to try and end inequality and dismantle structural racism
- educating ourselves: it’s not up to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to inform or teach us how to be an ally - there are many resources available about racism and how to be an effective ally and although they may be challenging, we need to be prepared for discomfort, as cultural change requires commitment.
- checking in with our colleagues, friends and loved ones in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community: remember, it’s not about you, be empathetic but don’t centre your own pain/disbelief/sadness above those of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Activism when an issue is trending on social media and in the news can be easy, but it takes a long-term strategy to effect cultural change. As the QTU works to develop a response and consider what policies or campaigning opportunities are needed to support the Black Live Matter/Indigenous Live Matter movement, think about what things you are prepared to do.