Black Lives Matter

Every human life is important, but no one will live in fullness of life until Black Lives Matter.

How often have you heard a non-Aboriginal person say, “I’m not racist”?  On December 5th, 2017 Yorta Yorta woman, Tanya Day, was sleeping off a few drinks on the train. She was on her way from Echuca to Melbourne to visit her pregnant daughter. On the train the conductor called the police to remove her. She was taken to a cell in Castlemaine police station. Here she fell and was left unobserved. She suffered a brain bleed that eventually led to her death 17 days later.

The conductor told the Coroner’s Court, “I’m not racist” but went on to say this was the first time he had ever called the police to remove a drunk person. The police who removed her each said in court said, “I’m not racist”, but later the same day removed a non-Aboriginal drunk woman from the train and drove her home without charges. Everyone involved in Tanya Day’s death in custody said they were not racist. Yet every one of them was found by the coroner to be acting in a racist way. Systemic racism and unconscious bias were at the heart of her findings. The coroner said Ms Day was not treated with dignity and humanity in accordance with basic human rights.

Sadly, Ms Day’s story is not an isolated one.

When receiving her Order of Australia this month, Aboriginal Professor Marcia Langton made comment about the 437 Deaths of Aboriginal people in custody since 1990 and called for action more than three decades on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

“I would have thought it’s pretty simple. Do not kill Aborigines”.

On June 12th Black Lives Matter rallies were held across the country. Thousands of people joined in an outpouring of anger and sadness over American man, George Floyd’s death and injustices towards so many black people at the hands of the so called ‘justice system’ around the world. In Darwin, local young Larrakia women reminded the crowd that not a single person had been charged with a crime related to an Aboriginal death in custody and young people currently in youth detention in the NT are all Aboriginal.

At Anglicare NT we stand strongly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination and we have actions and resources in place to support this commitment which we continually look to strengthen. Quiet racism, the racism of low expectations, the racism of ‘unconscious bias’, the racism of not listening; whatever form it takes, racism is not acceptable.

Every human life is important, but no one will live in fullness of life until Black Lives Matter.