Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.
The problem in believing in the inalienable rights and freedoms of, and equal opportunity for, all people is that some people or groups within society are more free and more equal than others (ie. more cashed up, more able to advocate for their “inalienable” rights, whatever those might be). The problem in also believing in a just and humane society in which the importance of the role of law and justice is maintained, is that one must actually abide by the law and apply it consistently.
In Australia, none are affected more by these problems than Indigenous Australians. Over the last week, mass rallies have been held in Australia in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The rallies aim to highlight the discrimination against Indigenous Australians. In particular, protestors point to the over 400 Indigenous Australians who have died in custody since 1991 and Indigenous Australians disproportionately higher rate of incarceration, as well as the social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous Australians more generally. Presumably, protestors want action to be taken (by Australian governments?) to address these issues. Senator Pat Dodson who was a Commissioner of the 1991 Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, has repeatedly acknowledged the complexity of the issue and the integrated social justice solutions required to reduce the rates of incarceration and deaths in custody. Read his thoughts on the matter here.
I am not sure what more I can write on this matter except that, clearly, all lives do not matter when a person can be stigmatised based on the colour of their skin, when racism and poverty is institutionalised, and when equal opportunity requires an unequal response in dealing with past hurt and trauma.
Why do I care deeply about this? Perhaps because when I was teenager, I was privy to a conversation between two people, one of whom had migrated from South Africa to Australia. The words of the South African man horrified me. He was clearly disturbed by them too. They went something like this:
“You know, they are very racist in South Africa. There were big floods recently in South Africa so I phoned my parents to ask whether anyone was hurt. They said that no-one was hurt, only a few blacks were killed.”
I heard it with my own ears. Those are words that a young, impressionable teenager doesn’t easily forget. That is why black lives matter, ladies and gentlemen. Whether it be in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, America, South Africa or Australia, they matter.
Anyway, back to the song. I’ve finally made it to the 21st Century for my Friday song choice. Today I’ve chosen the song, Locked Up, written by Felix Riebl and Australian Indigenous artist, Briggs, and performed by Briggs and the Marliya Choir. It is a song about the incarceration of young Indigenous Australians.
Thank you for reading, although it is not me, you should be listening to.