Sandpiper: May - July 2020

JULY 2020 | SANDP I PER 6 ‘normal lives’? We have waited so long for justice and now is the time to stand up with our brothers and sisters in Australia and from around the world and say racism is not acceptable; racism is ugly; every person should be treated with dignity and respect irrespective of their skin colour. There have been more than 430 Aboriginal Deaths in custody since 1991. There have been no convictions. There was an inquiry into ‘Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’, 30 years ago. We wait for the recommendations to be implemented. We are the most incarcerated race of people on this planet. The voices of those who are mistreated in the criminal system are rarely heard. The voiceless are too scared to complain against police or too powerless to fight back … I am longing for our next generations to learn how we lived off the land and respected and cared for it like our Mother; how we had over 500 Aboriginal Nations across this Great South Land and how we survived two ice ages and megafauna to be the longest continuous race on the face of this planet earth. I watched in shock and disbelief as Americans rioted across their country. Such was their horror that they drew a line in the sand and said ‘no more’. We know what it is like to face racism every day, to fear for our children just because of the colour of our skin. Here in Australia the murmuring was getting louder, they were starting to rumble, about black deaths in custody. We were groaning and people’s hearts were hurting because we know how black people feel. We protest, we march here, but no one hears us. Our message is always ignored or brushed under the carpet. Now we fear that people will say, ‘Yes it’s sad, but what can we do? It is in America, it’s not here’. Guess what it is here, it has always been here and it is not going anywhere, not unless we stand up to it. I had no intention of going to the march. We were isolating and I am scared of the coronavirus but my children insisted. They made posters and showed their passion - how could I not go? How could I not stand up for my family, for my grandchildren, and denounce the blatant racism in this country. It is now or never! We wore gloves, we had face masks. This is about solidarity. This is about dignity. This is about being human and being hurt by bigotry and racism. We were told we disrespected Australia by doing this but … When is a good time? When will it be okay, two months, two years’ time? So as we drove up Victoria Parade toward the Exhibition Gardens I was overcome with emotion and I cried. Do you know how many times I have joined the NAIDOC march and been heckled from the footpaths? How many times we have marched for our rights and been ignored? Hundreds. And now the streets were packed there were thousands of people to march in solidarity with us. It was so incredibly heartening. Australia is growing. The only time I have felt this atmosphere was in Sydney in the 1988 march on Australia Day. But this time was different, very different; it was predominantly young people under the age of 30. They get it, they do see it. I Dreaming of a better future for Indigenous peoples Continued from page 1. have much hope for the future; not for my generation; it is too late for us. But the next generation will hopefully stamp out this systemic racism that is so much part of Australia’s fabric. They will change things for the better and this world. It will be a better place for my grandchildren. They will not be judged by their skin colour, they will be a gift to their country and they will walk in two worlds and they will share their culture with the world. They will do it with dignity. That is what this is about, it is about, having dignity, being proud of your race and not being discriminated against because you are Aboriginal. As Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘I have a dream’. Will you join me on this journey? Will you teach your children about the oldest, longest continuous culture on this planet? Will you teach them that we must take responsibility for this land as the Creator God intended? Will you teach them that our culture is so rich that it has endured incredible obstacles? Will you help to make the dream a reality? … Join us on the journey of Truth telling about this country Australia.” Sherry Balcombe from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry shares her passionate dream.