By Yvonne Weldon. Nov 9, 2020. In the wake of the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Australians are confronting the uncomfortable truth about Aboriginal deaths in custody and incarceration. Yvonne Weldon argues that instigating real change goes beyond reconciliation and recognition – it’s about addressing overt and covert racism head on.
I have protested my whole life, starting in the Aboriginal movement in Sydney during the 1970s led by siblings Paul and Isabell Coe, Billy Craigie, many Wiradjuri Elders, Shirley ‘Mum Shirl’ Smith, Carmine and Lyall Munro Snr, Ann (Coe) and George Weldon, Lyn (Craigie) and Peter Thompson, Kaye and Bob Bellear, Naomi Mayers, Tony Coorey and Alana Coorey (Doolan), brothers Bertie and Bindi Williams, Gary Foley and Gary Williams. Our chants of “What do we want?” and “What do we get?” were never treated the same for us as Aboriginal people as they were for non-Aboriginal people. These memories remain with me because our lives mattered then and still matter now. The chants were about wanting land rights, but it was never only about land. It was always about our inherent birthright because we never ceded our sovereign rights, even with the inflicted colonial genocide. Our rights are to be free, to practise our traditions on our ancient land through our continual ceremony handed down over generations, our right to live, and our right to breathe.