Do you understand your role in responding to the events that have recently taken place in the United States? If you feel enraged, uncomfortable, confronted, and uneducated, it’s time to do the work. And most importantly, keep supporting after the outrage. When the media cycle starts to turn, it’s not the time to switch off, but to keep educating yourself, keep supporting charitable organisations and to determine your own long-term strategy to be an anti-racist ally.
Systemic racism is something we experience here in Australia, especially within our Indigenous community. The death of George Floyd while in custody in Minnesota is not unique to the US. The Guardian Australia has highlighted this in a piece titled ‘Deaths in our Backyard’, with 432 Indigenous Australian deaths occurring in custody since 1991.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to self-educate on issues of race — especially the issues we face here in Australia. Below, we’ve curated a list of books, movies and documentaries to consume as well as important people to follow on social media in order to better understand how you can be part of the change and revolution that’s so desperately needed.
Books to read:
This book will help you begin to understand the Indigenous culture of Aboriginals in Austalia. Written by Marcia Langton, a respected academic, this book offers insights into Indigenous history, languages, storytelling and cultural awareness.
It’s particularly good for those wanting to travel around the country, as it includes “a directory of Indigenous tourism experiences, organised by state or territory, covering galleries and festivals, national parks and museums, communities that are open to visitors, as well as tours and performances.”
When Lesley Williams was young, she was forced to leave her family at the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement and work as a domestic servant. Williams never saw her wages, as they were kept “safe” for her, as was the same for many others like her. She was taught not to question her life until desperation made her start to wonder, where is all that money she earned? And so began a nine-year journey for answers.
While we can educate ourselves through literature, we can also do the same with children. While kids aren’t inherently born with race prejudice in-built, it is something that both parenting and society can enforce. Starting them off with books written by Indigenous authors about Aboriginal stories is a great place for anti-racism education to start.
Baby Business tells the story of “a Darug baby smoking ceremony that welcomes baby to country. The smoke is a blessing — it will protect the baby and remind them that they belong. This beautiful ritual is recounted in a way young children will completely relate to and is enhanced by gentle illustrations.”
Written by Gregg Dreise, an author and illustrator and a descendent of the Kamilaroi tribe, from south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales, this humorous morality tale follows Maliyan, a proud eagle who always looks, listens and sees things from a long way away.
One day he meets the turkey Wagun, who is a silly bird, and together these two new friends begin to do silly-bird things. The Elders and Maliyan’s parents become very disappointed and soon the local billabong becomes a mess. The silly birds do not care for anyone and seem to have eaten all the food. Maliyan begins to see the error of his ways and tries to talk to Wagun and the other birds about their actions.
No one listens. So Maliyan flies away and begins the journey of listening again. Maliyan soon becomes a proud leader and all the silly birds begin to follow his example. They all help clean up the messes they have made. All except one…
Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession.
Author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.
In 2018, Layla F. Saad created an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy where she encouraged people to examine and share the way they are complicit in upholding white supremacy. The challenge went viral and thousands took part, prompting Saad to create a workbook for people to use.
Now, Saad has written a book of the same name, which includes stories, anecdotes and resources as well as historical and cultural contexts.
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What day is it again today? Oh yeah, that’s right… IT’S MY BOOK PUBLICATION DAY!!!! I woke up this morning and smiled as I breathed in deep breaths of gratitude and appreciation for this journey: from Instagram challenge, to PDF workbook, to published hardcover book, and beyond (because we’re just getting started!). I know many of us have been waiting for today to arrive and now it’s finally here!! Join me in celebrating as I birth this work into the world today. ••• A huge thank you to my amazing publishers @sourcebooks @quercusbooks and @blackstonepublishing, to my agent @katlat_, to my family, friends, readers, book blurbers, endorsers and reviewers, and everybody who has shared and bought this book. I appreciate you deeply. Go buy this book today and help us to make #MeAndWhiteSupremacy (an even bigger) global literary success and global anti-racism movement. THANK YOU. ••• P.S. New York peeps! Come celebrate my book birthday today at @strandbookstore with @ignitewithmelissa. It’s going to be amazing!
Consuming homegrown literature and media is extremely important in changing the conversation. To do that, we have to look back at our own history. Stan Grant explores how Australians attitudes to our history and the current discussions around Australia Day are ultimately unhelpful.
In 2014, London-based journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post which was titled the same name as her book. In the post, Eddo-Lodge wrote “I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms.”
The post struck a chord with people around the world and Eddo-Lodge turned it into a book, which will help you understand race relations in Britain as well as provide a look at Black history and the link between class and race.
Academic and educator Robin DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” in 2011. According to the New Yorker, after years of running diversity-training workshops in businesses across the United States, DiAngelo realised that white people are “historically bad at discussing racism.” In her book, DiAngelo explores why this is.
This book will help you take the steps to confront your own white privilege.
Author Anita Heiss includes a diverse range of voices and experiences in her book, in order to answer the question: what is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? The book deals with the history of invasion and colonisation while also pulling in lived experiences of how Indigenous Australians are treated in the community, in the workplace and the education system.
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#Repost @rbdigitalaus ・・・ Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia – an anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. . Listen/read it now by downloading the RBdigital app and login using your library card. . #wavesoundaustralia #anitaheissbook #profanitaheiss #nationalreconciliationweek2020 #growingupaboriginalinaustralia #audiobooksforfree #audiobooks #ebooks #ebook #audioaddict #libraries #librarylove #publiclibrariesrock #publiclibrary #publiclibrariesofinstagram #librariansofinstagram #librarians
People to follow:
Briggs is an Indigenous Australian rapper, record label owner, actor and author. He’s one-half of rap duo A.B. Original and he uses his platform to share insightful and important information for allies.
Briggs is a driving force in the conversation about changing the date of Australia Day and A.B. Originals song about the subject, called ‘January 26‘, is definitely worth a listen if you haven’t already.
“You’re expected to be thankful for the pittance you’re given rather than aspiring to more and wanting equality,” Briggs told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2018. “Nowhere is perfect, but here is like a special f—ing problem….there’s no true acknowledgement.”
Rachael Sarra is an Indigenous designer, artist and activist and a thought-provoking person to follow on social media. Sarra highlights important information for allies, while also showing how emotionally labour intensive it is to provide such information and the importance of self-education for white people.
“Remember your posts mean nothing if you don’t authentically believe and act over and over again until we authentically break down systems, prejudices and bias,” Sarra wrote on Instagram.
Aretha Brown is a queer, Indigenous activist and artist who was chosen as the first female Indigenous Youth Prime Minister of Australia by sixty of her peers. At 19-year-old, Brown is already doing a lot to further the conversation and has a YouTube channel filled with insightful videos including “Racism in Australian High Schools: My Experience” and “The 3 Biggest Myths About Aboriginal Culture Debunked”.
Rachel Cargle is an American academic, writer and lecturer who uses her platform to provide “intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.”
Cargle posts helpful resources on her Instagram grid that encourage white people to do the work and gives a place to start. She’s extremely insightful and definitely worth following on Instagram.
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Swipe for resources. • Racial justice is a feminist issue and the deep disparity in how white women showed up for “all women” at the women’s march but haven’t showed up in the millions for the current uprising speaks to the @harpersbazaarus article I wrote back in 2018 titled “When Feminism Is White Supremacy In Heels” • My work has always been done through the intersected lens of race and womanhood. You can find more resources from me on this topic in my bio including the link to my article and the link to my recorded lecture Unpacking White Feminism. • White women I am demanding you tap into the radical empathy I mentioned in my public address yesterday. Move past “I’m so sorry this is happening to you” and ask yourself “how do I play into the pain the black community is doing and how do I hold myself and my community accountable for enacting justice?” Ask yourself what moved you to show up on the streets in 2017 but isn’t lighting a fire in you in this very moment. • Do you hear me? Drop a comment/emoji and tag who needs to hear this • #revolutionnow #manifest #racism #blm #soul #spirit #yoga #crystals #essentialoils #goodvibes #goddess #yoga #retreat #yogaretreat #seattle #nyc #la #marieforleo #gabriellebernstein #spiritual #success #lifecoach #bookclub #nyc #lululemon #doterra #wanderlust #teachersofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram
Sharyn Holmes is an anti-oppression consultant, speaker, writer and coach who offers courses and coaching in how to unpack your privilege. Based in Brisbane, Holmes has spent years teaching anti-racist leadership and she dives deep into social injustice and personal sovereignty.
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Optical allyship in an age of white supremacy is so passé. You’re telling on yourself by treating anti-oppression and anti-racism work as optional or a checkbox in your life and business. Your delusion that optics is all that’s required of you is entirely visible. Where the entire fuck have you been if anti-racism and fighting against ⚪️ supremacy is news to you?????! Oh wait, don't tell me you live in a ⚪️ bubble and have no close BIPOC friends. ??♀️
Rae Johnson is an award-winning STEM journalist and Wiradjuri woman. She is also the first-ever Science and Technology Editor for NITV across online, TV and radio, a free-to-air TV channel that broadcasts programming produced largely by Indigenous Australians. Follow Johnson on Instagram and Facebook.
Rachel Ricketts is a speaker, healer and author who had dedicated her life to “dismantling racists heteropatriarchy” and supporting black and indigenous women. Based in Toronto, Canada, Ricketts offers monthly calls to action and a Spiritual Activism 101 course that unpacks and addresses racist misogyny. You can follow Ricketts on Instagram.
Author of ‘Me and White Supremacy’, Layla F. Saad is a must-follow on Instagram. She posts helpful information about how white people can conduct themselves in times like these, as well as offering up other resources that could be helpful. Follow Saad on Instagram.
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To the folks with white privilege reading #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, but not putting pen to paper to do the journaling: You’re cheating. This is not a book you Read. This is a book you Do. And it is easy to tell the difference between someone who has read the book vs someone who has done the book. ••• Reading the book will give you an intellectual understanding of white supremacy and a mental understanding of racism in general. You’ll be able to call out other people’s racism, but not your own because you haven’t truly looked at yourself. Doing the book will require you to put yourself inside the framework of white supremacy, pull deep from your subconscious your racist thoughts and beliefs that lay in the shadows, recall deep memories of how white supremacy manifested in your life, and actually change how you show up because you understand your white privilege and your racism on a *visceral* level now, not just a conceptual one. ••• If you’re just going to read the book but not do the journaling, what you’re saying is – I want to be part of the solution, but I want to risk nothing. Not even examining my own complicity in this system from the safety of my own home, in the privacy of my own journal, in the comfort of my own privilege. Simply read the book if you want, but don’t kid yourself that you’re practicing anti-racist allyship. You’re still complicit, now you just have the racial justice jargon to pretend to others that you’re not.
Movies, documentaries & TV shows to watch:
The ABC series You Can’t Ask That brings diverse Australians who are living in judgement to your screen and asks them to confront discrimination and prejudice through a series of questions based on common assumptions. It’s incredibly insightful and all of the episodes (ranging from those on the Autism Spectrum to those living with HIV) should be required viewing.
But, the episode with Indigenous Australians is particularly interesting and is a must-watch, if you haven’t already seen it.
The groundbreaking investigation by Four Corners into the Northern Territory juvenile justice system revealed the disturbing treatment of young people in detention. Called ‘Australia’s Shame’, this documentary by Four Corners is necessary to watch to understand the treatment of Indigenous Australians starting from a young age.
The episode was released in 2016 and at the time of release, it sparked global outrage and prompted then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to establish a Royal Commission into the Northern Territory’s juvenile detention system.
In this feature-length documentary, AFL legend Adam Goodes shares his experience with racism and the treatment he endured from AFL fans including the 2013 incident where a young girl yelled “you’re an ape” to Goodes during a game between the Sydney Swans and Collingwood.
“I hadn’t been racially abused for eight years and it just rocked me,” Goodes told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I walked into the medical room underneath [the ground] and I burst into tears.”
This documentary is a must-watch for all.
Directed by Ava DuVernay, the four-episode Netflix series is based on a true story of the wrongful conviction of five black teenage boys in 1990. According to Vulture, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana were convicted of raping 28-year-old banker Trisha Meili in 1989.
The series depicts how “NYPD detectives and New York County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors framed these boys and traumatised them into false confessions, triggering prison time of varying lengths and cruelty for each of them, embedding them in our collective psyche as the Central Park Five.”
Written and directed by Tony Krawitz (and based on the book of the same name by Chloe Hooper), this is an Australian documentary that tells the story of Aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee from Palm Island in Queensland. Doomadgee was arrested after allegedly swearing at Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and 45 minutes later, he was lying dead in his police cell from internal injuries.
“The Tall Man explores the complexities of racial politics in Queensland, its people and its justice system,” said director Tony Krawitz.
“Hurley is the first policeman charged with the manslaughter of an Aboriginal man in the history of Queensland — and has always maintained his innocence. The truth shifts like a mirage through this case, buried in a web of rumour and conspiracy theories. One of the key witnesses was drunk. The police were misleading and colluded with each other in the subsequent investigation, trying to obfuscate the truth.”
Referring to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in the United States, director Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th “makes a direct connection between slavery and mass incarceration,” according to IndieWire.
Available to stream on Netflix, the film shows how political authorities have worked to “disempower African Americans over the last three centuries,” as reported by The Atlantic.
Many Australians will most likely know the story of Eddie Mabo and his wife Bonita, but this film shows how the legal battle rolled out against a background of “racial segregation and the intrusion of white management and authority in Indigenous communities.”
This documentary tells the story of the survivors of the Stolen Generations and the trauma experienced by those taken from their families. The documentary gives an insight into the lives of three survivors Bobby Randall, Cleonie Quayle and Daisy Howard as well as exploring the long-term effects of this experience including grief, suicide, alcoholism, and loss of culture.