He reckons here it was from the moment the shooting began, culling the Indigenous inhabitants like wild brumbies and then scrubbing their children’s skins to cleanse them of their culture, to show them the “civilised’’ way.
Now mining giant Rio Tinto has blasted more of their culture and I’ve read that BHP was set to destroy some 40 historical sites. The ethnic cleansing continues.
What can the likes of me do now? Like with all significant change, it has to come from within, by contemplating, by speaking up and by doing something.
I remember many years ago protesting outside a Melbourne cafe that had refused to let in an Aboriginal man, and carrying a home-made banner that read something like: “No long blacks or short blacks today.’’ We stood for hours, facing the owners peacefully as we seethed inside. It is now beyond urgent to grasp the grassroots, remind everyone to think about what’s going on, and do something about it.
I left a health club recently because its owner was a bully who berated staff until they cried. The owner was also racist, refusing to let in my Somali Muslim friend for a trial class that the club welcomed others to.
Yesterday I asked a friend to contemplate why she still goes to that club when her son has been discriminated against, and when she knows what happens there. “I’m fine with all that,’’ she said.
Perhaps not a person who would have been part of the deluge of donations now pouring into Indigenous organisations that provide legal services, help stolen generations survivors or keep Aboriginal families together.
No wonder I’m awake at 4.30am as the newspaper hits my front porch, unable to sleep until I have rolled out my mat, done a tough yoga session and then meditated. Still enough energy left for a brisk three-hour walk.
The challenge is to take that mask off the eyes, where it shouldn’t be anyway.
Take the time to learn about David Dungay jnr and the hundreds like him who have died in custody. Not too late to think about the Uighurs either, or any group that has been treated brutally. Plenty to choose from.
And please take a few minutes to really watch the last minutes of Floyd’s life. They are a gut-churning, heartbreaking symbol and horrific reminder of so much that is going on around the world.
As Floyd’s brother said at his funeral this week: “He is going to change the world.’’
As I drive my son to school after the sleepless night, we talk about all this. Yes, he tells me, it is having an effect in his school too because two of them were called in this week and asked if they had ever been racially picked on at school.
May we all take on the challenge, in our small but significant ways, and turn the ripples into a tsunami of change.
Harb Gill is a desk editor at The Age.