Updated: Oct 22, 2020
The Black lives matter (BLM) protest in Melbourne was a public call to demand change and stop injustice from occurring whether in Australia or abroad. The rally was not just a protest standing in solidarity against police brutality that led to the murder of George Flloyd by Mineappolis police it was also an open call to Australian government to stop the deaths of Aboriginals in custody while holding police and correctional officers accountable. In Australia, 438 First Nations people have died in police custody since 1991, and to this day, the institutions that are told to serve and protect us are held with no accountability. The death of David Dungay Jr draws similarities to the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis - his last words were ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was murdered in prison when he refused to put down a biscuit. Change must be made everywhere around the world but we cannot forget Aboriginal Australians.
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The Australian criminal justice system has yet to convict any officer for their involvement in Aboriginal deaths in custody, The family of Tanya Day an Indigenous women who died in custody after not receiving treatment for over three hours from a head injury are still devastated that no police will face charges over her death after the OPP decided not to press charges against police officers involved. There are cases still being heard such as that of NT native 19 year old Kumanjayi Walker who was shot dead by police and Joyce Clarke, a WA mother-of-one, was fatally shot by a police officer after she began acting erratically in September last year. Cases like these still bid the question of why force was needed to diffuse the situation?
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As someone of South Asian background supporting BLM our role is not to shift the focus away from matters at hand, its to become allies to the movement and ensure we are advocating for needed change. South Asian's have longed struggled with various measures of anti blackness while previous generations have been scared to speak up about issues that matter. Recently South Asians have seen a shift in change as the younger generation are unafraid to introspect within and initiate difficult conversations is increasingly putting its weight behind the cause. The increased access to social media, open forums and community advocacy has opened up platforms for South Asians to throw their weight behind BLM. Digital publications such as Brown Girl Mag, 'South Asians 4 BLM' and local platform South Asian Today have been inundated with guides, letters of support, essays by young South Asians that inform and call attention to the pressing need for the community to stand up for Black lives. Many platforms are also translating resources for BLM and why it is important into different South Asian languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Sinhalese, Urdu, Bangla for example not only to increase and educate but to also show older generations the importance.
Discussions around BLM are not just about debating the rights of black and First nations people without understanding the systems that invoke white supremacy, as well as the privilege and how that has endangered and imperiled black lives for centuries.
For the South Asian community, this would mean we all need to be discussing caste-ism and racism within our own societies and the injustices that contribute to anti-blackness and racism rhetoric in our daily lives.