After protests took hold across the US following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, there was hope among Indigenous activists that the outrage felt towards racism and police brutality overseas would give non-POCs reason to reflect and demand change on the same unjust systems and horrific acts here in Australia; to rethink their role in upholding the racist status quo.
After a weekend of protests across the country, it seems there has been increased awareness and participation in Australia's own Black Lives Matter movement, but there are many, many more steps to be taken if we are to move towards a fair, just and peaceful society for all. Yesterday, Q+A, the ABC’s current affairs panel program, centred its discussion around what those steps could be; from actively confronting our racist past and present, and how we possibly move forward.
On the panel was actor and writer Meyne Wyatt, actor Nakkiah Lui, Leetona Dungay, the mother of David Dungay who died in police custody in 2015, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers, lawyer Nyadol Nyuon, and NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg.
Meyne, who wrote and starred in the theatre production, City Of Gold, which played in Griffin Theatre Company’s 2019 season and also showed at the Queensland Theatre, performed his powerful soliloquy from the play at the end of the discussion. It has since been hailed as the best four minutes of Australian TV ever.
In his speech, Meyne speaks to his experiences living in Australia as an Aboriginal man: the disparity; the unfairness; the double standards; the danger; the stereotypes; the anger; and the emotional toll of experiencing these endless injustices.
“I’m always going to be your black friend, aren’t I? That’s all everybody ever sees,” Meyne starts. “I’m never just an actor. I’m an Indigenous actor. I love reppin’, but I don’t hear old Joe Bloggs being called quite white Anglo-Saxon actor.”
“I’m always in the black show, the black play. I’m always the angry one, the tracker, the drinker, the thief. Sometimes I want to be seen for my talent, not my skin colour, not my race.”
Across four minutes, Meyne addresses Australia’s mistreatment of Adam Goodes; white privilege; and the changing face of racism in this country from something that, while subtler than it used to be, is just as insidious.
“‘Nah, we’re progressive, now, we’ll give you the small, subtle shit’. The shit that’s always been there. Not the obvious, in-your-face shit. It’s the ‘we can’t be seen to be racist’ kind of shit,” he says.
“Security guard following me around the store, asking to search my bag. Walking up to the counter first being served, second or third or last kind of shit. Or hailing down a cab and watching it slow down to look at my face and then drive off.”
Watch his monologue in full here:
More than 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since 1991. Not one perpetrator has been convicted in relation to any of these deaths. A new study has found that three quarters of non-Indigenous Australians hold an implicit bias against First Nations Peoples.
Catch up on the Q+A episode in full here.
Main Image: Meyne Wyatt on Q+A last night