: Cat1

Anti- Racism Books Review

Hello Ally,

Welcome to the eighth surprise gift of Anti-Racism education. 

With the holiday break (finally) here, many of us are looking forward to putting our feet up and reading a good book. Reading in your own time with a crisp paperback is sometimes the best way to learn something new. 

Today, we have a great selection of books that our team has reviewed and recommended for you. They are anti-racism books for adults and children offering tools and thoughts to nurture minds.  We hope you find a good page turner amongst this collection and would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the recommendations. 

After Australia by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Photo by : NSW Create

“This book was on my must-read list this year. This anthology of short pieces by black, Indigenous and people of colour authors reimaging Australia’s past, present and future is inspiring. Omar Sakr’s contribution is a stand-out in this COVID world we now live in, offering us a dystopian tale in ‘White Flu’.” – Priscilla

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

Photo by : Lift Economy (left) & Over Drive (right)

“An invaluable toolkit for readers seeking to challenge their own white supremacy, anti-blackness, racist ideas and beliefs. The book provides 28 daily readings and reflections that cover topics such as tone policing, white privilege, white superiority, practical versus optical allyship, and how to engage in antiracist conversations with family and friends. The book can be read individually, but also provides tools to be read as part of a reading group. Saad meets readers where they are at on their antiracism journey, and makes it clear that this journey is really only just beginning. She encourages readers to make ongoing commitments and to revisit the book to strengthen their understanding over time.” –  Jen

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Photo by : The Guardian (left) & Penguin Books (right)

“I recommend reading Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility most of all because it’s an accessible book. I think that white and white passing people should read it to gain a new perspective and vocabulary for challenging problematic behaviours caused by racial biases that we inadvertently carry. Di Angelo, an experienced facilitator, teaches people about damaging reactions and how to deal with them, in order to overcome ‘white fragility’ in anti-racism work. If while reading this book we find ourselves thinking ‘but I’m not this person’, a good next step is to read Layla F. Saad’s  Me and White Supremacy and try to address our own conscious and unconscious biases.”

-Deliana

Anti-Racism books for the young ones in your life…

Skin Again by bell hooks, with illustrations fromChris Raschka

Photo by : Lion Roars (left) & Good Reads (right)

“This award winning children’s picture book by legendary author and critic bell hooks is a great little book for parents who want to talk about race and identity with their young children. It emphasises who we are on the inside, “all made up of stories, present, past, future” and says “You can find all about me / coming close and letting go / of who you might think / I am”. 

-Stijn

Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor, with illustrationsfrom Blak Douglas

Photo by : Thomas Mayor Twitter

“This is a children’s book about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It explains really well why the Uluru Statement is so necessary and how it came about and is a great entry point for children to learn more about Australia’s black history and the continuing impact of colonialism.”

-Stijn

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship; by Irene Latham and Charles

Photo by : The Lerner Blog

“This book is in the form of a collection of small poems written by Irene, a white girl and Charles, a black boy – two kids who have been paired – up as partners in a poem writing project. Written from the point of view of two fifth graders, the poems present simple, straightforward and honest views on issues around racial differences, friendship and the world around us.”

Breaking the silence – Podcast

Hello Ally,

Welcome to the sixth gift of the week. In today’s newsletter we share a review of a new podcast series by UTS and Impact Studios – Black Stories Matter. The 5 part podcast series builds a conversation around the 2019 book ‘Does the Media Fail Aboriginal Political Aspirations 45 years of news media reporting of key political moments.’ by researchers Amy Thomas, Heidi Norman and Andrew Jakubowicz from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS. The book  traces the inadequate Aboriginal representation in the media, that has consistently undermined, failed and denied Aboriginal aspirations for self-determination. (7 mins read) 



There is a greater role for our media to play in holding the Government accountable for the promises they have made to First Nations People. Unfortunately, the still predominantly white media continues to fail First Nations People


The 5-part podcast series takes the listener on a journey that outlines:

  • The last 45 years of media reporting of Aboriginal political aspirations highlighting only the struggles, riots, and overall negative stereotypes, also referred to as the failures of Aboriginal people 

  • The lack of representation of First Nations People identities, aspirations, and achievements because of the white, European and Anglo-centric Australian media leadership

  • The role of mainstream media as the most influential storyteller, who tells Aboriginal stories through a white, settler colonial lens, with little adherence to cultural protocols and trust building with First Nations People and their political needs

  • The great Australian silence of non-Indigenous listeners

Does the media fail Aboriginal political aspirations?

In episode 1- “Does the media fail Aboriginal political aspirations?” Professor Stan Grant Jnr, Wiradjuri man, Vice Chancellor’s Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University and former ABC Global Affairs and Indigenous Affairs Analyst talks about the media, being driven solely by two pillars of reporting – conflict and crises – creating more division rather than illuminating issues that can advance Aboriginal political aspirations. He talks about the need to challenge the nature of power structures in media companies run by white Australian men and their lack of responsibility  and inclination for having a wider BIPOC workforce – a  diverse group of journalists who bring the mix of knowledge, understanding and lived experiences from different backgrounds to the forefront. He further reflects upon the lack of BIPOC representation in public and commercial broadcasters because of their unwillingness to promote and develop BIPOC careers rather than not receiving enough BIPOC applications, which is an argument that media organisations often fall back on. 

A test we have always failed: A history of Aboriginal politics in the media

The second episode – “A test we have always failed: A history of Aboriginal politics in the media”, revolves around the Redfern speech of 1992 by Paul Keating. The first time a Prime Minister had spoken about the dispossession, violence and prejudice carried out against First Nations people in Australia, marking history and putting reconciliation firmly on the political agenda. This episode discusses how 28 years later the promises made on the day to First Nations Australians have not been fulfilled. 

Jason Ardler, whose cultural ties are to the Yuin people of the NSW South Coast and who is the former head of NSW Aboriginal Affairs, discusses the challenges he faced in politics, media’s inability to abandon negative stereotypes and the failure to recognise First Nations voices. He refers to the gaps – lack of cultural capabilities – in carrying forward Aboriginal political aspirations by non-Indigenous journalists and policy makers. He highlights the dominance of  public discourse, attitudes and values that reveal ignorance, systemic stereotyping, paternalistic attitudes and misrepresentations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes a tendency to report that the negative impacts of systemic racism on Aboriginal communities are instead of their own fault. 

In the same episode, Arrente and Luritja woman Catherine Liddle, the CEO of First Nations Media, shares a story of her Grandfather, one of the Stolen Generations children, who didn’t complain about anything until he was on his deathbed. She recalls how he told her, a few days before he passed – as she sat next to him: 

“the bastard had blue eyes”.  She asked him: “who had blue eyes, Ggan?”, to which he replied: “the man who took me had blue eyes… why did he have to take me away from my mummy, why did they do that?”

What she shares through this narration is the power of telling a story as your own, with an understanding of the background and the cultural protocols – a parameter often lacking in how Aboriginal stories get told by non-Indigenous white Australian journalists. Non-Aboriginal Australians have been kept far away from the truth, because the stories have never reached them as they should have. Non-Aboriginal Australians in Parliament and newsrooms will need to stir that change by letting Aboriginal People tell their own story. 

Why Black Stories Matter?

Black Stories Matter is the beginning of a long overdue conversation. We need to break the narratives of failure through which First Nations stories are told in mainstream media.  We need diverse media leadership to trickle down change in the newsrooms. We need to support independentcommunity media, where Indigenous voices can grow. It is time to start listening. And a good way is Black Stories Matter. Dive right in. 

Continue the conversation

Hello Ally,

 

Welcome to the seventh and final Gift of Anti-Racism Education – Continue the Conversation. A gift that will help you have better conversations about race and racism. Holding conversations about race can be difficult for those who don’t experience racism. The fear to acknowledge what you don’t know, the fear to come across as insensitive can often lead people to remain quiet and later regretting their silence. We want to change the internal voice telling you “just don’t say anything”. We want to take the anxiety away from that next conversation you have about racism and race. (7 mins read) 



Today’s gift is one that keeps on giving, it is the power to communicate. A set of fundamentals to bare in mind whilst having those race conversations and tips on how to go about it, based on a book called Courageous Conversations About Race : A Field Guide to Achieving Equity in Schools by Glen E. Singleton and Curtis Linton and a guide created for the National Day of Racial Healing in the US. 

Agreeing to talk about Race

Conversations about race and racism begin with the genuine willingness to do so, and an acknowledgement of what you do not know. An understanding that conversations about race create anxiety and conflict amongst different cultural groups is the starting place. White people believe that these conversations stir up old hatred and tend to avoid heated arguments perceived as divisive, violent, conflicted and resulting in a loss of control. People of colour perceive conversations about racial problems from a distance as someone else’s to deal with. What then is required is an agreement to talk about race. In the book Courageous Conversations About Race, the four agreements have been stated as follows. 

 

1. Staying engaged

It refers to not switching off if what you hear isn’t what you may have been expecting. Often committed by those whose bodies may remain in the room without the inclination to further engage, sustain, and deepen the dialogue. It is a commitment that you remain morally, intellectually, emotionally and socially involved. Remembering at all times that conversations for change especially racism are extremely complex and challenging to have. 

2. Experiencing discomfort

It is about accepting differences and preparing to feel the lack of comfort and feelgood that comes with other traditional training modules such as diversity and inclusion workshops. The honest and truthful way to have the race discussion is to address our differences versus blindly accepting that we are all the same. 

3. Speaking the truth

It is the sole reason for your participation in this conversation that should defy all other inhibitions such as telling people what they want to hear. Instead be upright and speak your mind, share honest opinionsthoughts and attitudes. We know it is easier said than done – but remember the common goal is reconciliation.

 

4. Expecting and accepting non-closure

The final agreement is knowing and accepting that there will not be a solution at the end of this discussion. Questions will remain unanswered and several points not agreed upon. Accepting that there is a method in the chaos, dialogue in the process and unlearning in the lack of agreements and sharing of views different from our own will ensure an end to the stigma associated with complex race conversations.

How to have courageous conversations about race?

1.Give everyone a chance to be heard – Ask questions

It’s important, without being disrespectful or impatient, to hear what each person has to say. We all like being heard and that’s something everyone should have the opportunity to experience. Setting the purpose of the conversation by expressing your intentions to listen, learn, and explore may help set the right tone. At this onset, deciding on your role in this conversation as either a facilitatorcontributorlistenerinterpreter or documenter can prove effective. A healthy conversation has many requirements and only one of them is to provide input

 

2.  Assume good intentions

Encourage dialogue, respect and thoughtful listening. Assuming good intentions, practicing active listening and preventing interruptions are rules of good conversations. Making people feel comfortable and ensuring the understanding that some people with good intentions may misspeak, can be a good mental note to have. The words you use to share your reactions will need to be thought through, rather than rushed into. For example, saying 

“I’ve never thought of that before, could you explain why you think that?” rather than “I don’t believe it, that’s never happened to me” 

prevents closing off someone’s views or making them feel silenced.


Similarly, letting others know how their words affect you is more productive than voicing your opinions of  assumed intent. For example, saying

 “I feel frustrated (or I feel disrespected) when people say… because…”, rather than,
“That pisses me off; that’s such a stupid (or racist) thing to say”

allows the other person to respond without feeling defensive. Instead they’re given the opportunity to see your perspective from a position of empathy.

 

3.Open Up

We also know from constructive conversation exercises that productive discussion can’t take place without all participants getting to know one another – especially if they are someone you don’t know very well. Talking about ourselves at a deeper, meaningful level helps people see one another in a humane light. Instead of jumping into serious race related conversations right away, take some time to warm up. Try starting your first conversation with any of the following topics:

  1. Tell me about a place that makes you feel good. 
  2. Tell me about someone that you miss.
  3. Share with me a story about something important you have lost or found?

4. Big Talk

When people are feeling more comfortable try to probe for deeper conversations with some of these questions:

  1. Have you ever experienced a situation where your racial or ethnic identity seemed to contribute to a problem or uncomfortable situation?
  2. Have you ever felt “different” in a group setting because of your race/ethnicity? How did this affect you? 

  3. How often/deeply do you interact with people of a different racial/ethnic identity other than your own? What is the nature of these relationships and interactions? 

  4. Have you ever witnessed someone being treated unfairly because of their racial or ethnic identity? If so, how did you respond? How did it make you feel?

5. Practice Gratitude

All good discussions, especially those centred around unlearning should begin and end with gratitude. Make a point to thank people for their courage to share everything they offered. Thank them for the things they have helped you learn and unlearn. Encourage participants to share what they unlearned and give gratitude for something they learned. Encourage journal writing to continue the discovery and self-learning processes. Compile a list of actions participants said they would take because of this conversation.

 

Finding the new “normal” by continuing your unlearning process by journaling and thoughtfully embracing discussions will help your progress day to day. Just like every habit takes at least 21 days to be made, the best way to make progress is to start uncomfortably with a focus on supporting social equity, to ask questions, and start listening.

Spotify Playlist – Listen

Hello Ally,

Happy Saturday, welcome to your 5th gift of the week.

Today we will talk music. We would like to see an increase in the promotion, recognition and financial support of BIPOC artists. Music is one way for Australia to tell its diverse stories, to share and celebrate ourb cultures and confront our histories.
Today we are sharing with you a specially curated Spotify playlist called  “Bring us Together”, and introducing three talented Australian musicians.

Between the gigs, festivals and hottest 100’s celebrating local music, many of us have bonded with friends and strangers over a good tune. Australia hosts one of the largest globally recognised free-to-air radio stations (Triple J), that’s helped artists grow exponentially and gain global recognition. 

In our playlists, you will find artists you’ve known before, and discover new ones. A selection of up-and-comers from across music genres, each one representing their proud heritage and background. 

 

Emma Donnovan

Photo by : emma.donnovan.com (left) & Citymag- Indaily (right)

Emma is an Indigenous Australian musician who started her career at the early age of 7 in her uncle’s band “The Donovans.” Emma’s mother, Gumbainggir/Danggali woman Agnes Donovan, supported Emma’s singing, by taking her to talent competitions around the country. Now a mother of two girls herself, Emma celebrates her upbringing with her music, and shares the love and loss of years passed, in her latest album Crossover”, with her music group The Putbacks. Drawing from the dissonance felt the year she lost her mother and had her first daughter, she defines her experience writing in the band as a “safe space” to share personal vulnerable stories from her life. She also sings about history and empowerment. Written prior to the Black Lives Matter movement, the album’s song Mob March became this year the new ‘NAIDOC anthem’. Emma was nominated for Double J Artist of the Year. She won  multiple awards, including Female Artist of the Year and she performed at the opening of the 2004 Olympic ceremony. You’ll hear her soulful voice but also funky rhythms, when you listen to “Crossover” in our playlist below. 

 

LFresh the Lion

Photo by : Liverpool Champion (left) & The Daily Telegraph (right)

Formally known as SukhdeepLFresh is a Sydney based hip-hop artist, whose music tackles social justice issues, particularly racism and prejudice. He is also an anti-racism ambassador for All Together Now. Recently, speaking at the Big Sound Conference, he shared his plans on changing systems within the music scene:

“The music game is changing. It’s always changing. But right now, we’re at a real special point where those who’ve been traditionally left out of the industry are defying the odds & creating new ways of doing things, inspired by our own cultural influences and values. It’s not just challenging the status quo. I’m talking about creating a new status quo.”
– LFresh the Lion.

LFresh continues to captivate his listeners both musically and verbally across his social channels and media groups. The name “FRESH” is an acronym for “Forever Rising Exceeding Sudden Hardships”, the message he wants to get across for standing tall and overcoming challenging circumstances. And “Lion” – being a link to his Sikh heritage – is a translation from Sanskrit of his surname, Singh

LFresh has just released his third album, “Southwest”, in which he reflects on the challenges of youth and loss felt because of the disconnection from his heritage and language while growing up. Described by music media as a rapper with roar power, LFresh continues to push boundaries using his voice, lyrics and sounds. You will find L-fresh’s popular track, “1 in 100,000″ on today’s list below. 

 

Che’nelle

Photo by : facebook.com:chenelleworld

Formerly known as Cheryline Ernestine Lim, Che’nelle is rightfully described by Samantha Jones from The Tropixs as a truly unique blend of culture and genres. She was born in Malaysia to a Chinese father, and a mother of Indian and Dutch heritage, and moved to Perth when she was 10 years old. Earlier this year, Che’nelle released her latest track titled “Invincible”, a softly sung R’n’B tune that packs a punch. On releasing this song, Che’nelle posted on Facebook:

 “This creation touched a deep place in my heart. This goes out to all those who have been labeled, all those who were unaware of labelling others and an opportunity to reflect on the toxicity of these normalized judgements made everyday towards others and towards ourselves. Let this be a reflection.
We are not labels. We owe it to ourselves to be great.We can only be the best for others when we are best with ourselves.
– Che’nelle

Never to be pigeonholed, Che’nelle writes, sings and produces her songs in both English and Japanese. Her music genres include pop, soul and r’n’b, while her lyrics flow seamlessly from love to loss, covering a range of human experiences.

Che’nelle collaborated with many well-known artists on top songs such as Leona Lewis’s – “Can’t Breathe”. In 2008 she won the Concept Album of the Year in the Japan Gold Disc Awards. You can find her latest track “Invincible”, in our playlist below.

 


Listen on Spotify

List of tracks and the artist’s proud heritage – see below. 

  1. Better in Blak – Thelma Plum – (Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter & Guitarist)
  2. Mamalangsing- Bobby Singh (in Djang Djang) – (Punjabi Australian Tabla player)
  3. I can’t Breathe  – Jerome Farah -(Lebanese/Zimbabwean singer-songwriter & Producer)
  4. 1 in 100,000 – L fresh the Lion – (Punjabi Australian rapper and hip hop artist)
  5. For my Tittas – Barkaa – (Indigenous Australian rapper and Hip Hop Artist)
  6. Everything – Camp 8 – (Maori New Zealand Australian singer-songwriter)
  7.  Energy – Sampa the Great – (Zambian Australian rapper and songwriter)
  8. You + Me – Dizzy Dizzo (Australian-Taiwanese rapper and singer)
  9.  Invincible – Che’Nelle (Malaysian Australian singer-songwriter)
  10.  Crossover – Emma Donnovan (in The Putbacks) – (Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter)


Listen on Spotify

First Nation Owned Businesses- Do More

Hello Ally,

Welcome to the fourth gift of Anti-Racism education – Do More. 

We’ve compiled a list of ally friendly and First Nations owned businesses that you can buy from and whose backstories are as inspiring as their products. You could keep it handy for the next time you need the services they provide, especially those you can purchase directly from instead of paying for fakes or to middle men and women. Have a look!

 (5 mins read). 

In a survey we conducted in June, 2020 on the gaps in anti-racism education in Australia the respondents highlighted the need to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses. Thanks to a horrendous 2020 many of us have been locked up in our homes finding a new flair for sourcing unique online goods. Brands across clothing, homewares and all kinds of knick knacks have since arrived at our doors in big numbers. As a result of which many small businesses have been recognised. This is a mini curation of creative and commercial First Nation businesses with an inspiration and a purpose, for you to consider the next time you are out shopping. 

Photo by: Yarli Creative Designs

Madison Connors, the founder of Yarli Creative is a painter, digital illustrator, mum and proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamilaroi woman. She refers to herself as an artist, a human rights activist and a mother.  Not only is her artwork unique, moving and a pleasure to view – it also serves a much deeper purpose. Maddison speaks often about how her work is connected with promoting women’s health and how her experiences as an Aboriginal woman have shaped her ambitions and perspectives of the world. 

“For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to create a positive change and for me this includes sharing, teaching and creating artwork that provokes conversations.”
– 
Madison Connors

You can purchase one of her original prints from $190 (be patient – she’s currently flocked with orders) or support her by purchasing one of the Yarli Creative x Scrunchiko Collab scrunchies working with Scrunchiko – a community conscious label offering their customers convenience and art all-in-one. At just $15 a piece you can enjoy Yarli Creative’s art and support her causes for connection, conversations and place to educate. 

Photo by : insideretail.com.au

If you haven’t heard of them already – no doubt you will. What began as a health program supporting Indigenous communities in regional areas of Victoria (Spark Health), quickly became known as a fashion label. The team at Spark Health began making unique First Nations designed merchandise as an incentive to get more members involved in creating awareness about Closing the Gap – an Australian Government Health initiative to help close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal people and non-Indigneous Australians.


Given the opportunity as a self-funded company, the team realised that utilising their merch sales could continue to fund their program and expand what they could do for their communities. Realising the power of fashion, Clothing the Gap’s focus became about “more than just a tee” – sharing messages of importance for First Nations communities, elevating and promoting Aboriginal Peoplesblack excellence and educating Australians about social issues. 

Currently, their main campaign is to start the conversation about the Australian First Nation Flag – the only copyrighted flag in the world, that is licenced to two companies, one being white-owned big merch business WAM. Their campaign “free the flag” is asking Australians to sign and share their moving petition to change the licensing rights for the Aboriginal flag.


You can buy a range of fashionable caps, beanies, t-shirts, masks, jumpers, accessories and totes from their online store.

Photo: hausofdizzy.com

Fierce, deadly, and fancy as f**k jewelry brand Haus of Dizzy is making a statement, supporting a cause and making its customers look damn good doing it. Kristy Dickinson is the designer behind the label that’s been making heads turn for a while now. 

“I just want to give pride to my people,” 

Kristy said in an interview with The Guardian “But in a cool, shiny way.”

With a range that prompts discussions among people who want to share their support for feminism, gay rights and environmental campaigns, Kristy is giving a voice to many people, and empowering them to support causes close to her heart. 

Dickinson also wants to instill confidence in Indigenous children with a special range – Dizzy Chicks – a children’s range with stickers, clothing, merch and accessories for her favourite mini Haus of Dizzy fans. Growing up for her wasn’t easy. But she found her happiest, most confident times with her mother (also a great accessory enthusiast) and aunties, making this initiative a special cause amongst others. 

Her unique collections of statement pieces that make heads turn and “dizzy fans” nod in approval are a great way to funk-up your look and know that you’re also being a catalyst for conversations about important causes. What’s next for Haus of Dizzy in 2021? Sky’s the limit – we can only assume that Kristy will continue to grow with her ever-increasing number of Dizzy enthusiasts.

 

Here’s a handful of other First Nation businesses with products to set your splurge account for. 

Jarin Street

Transcend into meditation mode by purchasing an Aboriginal owned and made yoga mat,  the original & first of its kind. Also avail a free yoga class with every purchase. Find out more

Barefoot Wandering 

To purchase, source and support First Nation visual storytelling for those based in Coffs Harbour. 

Anindilyakwa Art Center

Stocks from sleepwear and scarfs to cute-as-hell infant wear. Made by the Anindilyakwa people and the people of Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Islands. Buying directly from this arts center means that the artists are paid forward and paid well. 

Ascension Mag

Purchase your own copy of the 100% Aboriginal owned First Australian Indigenous and Ethnic Women’s Lifestyle Magazine – “Ascension Mag” – offering great reads and a personalised range of merchandise. 

 

Find More.

Follow @ausindigenousfashion , @tradingblak @blakbusiness on instagram to keep up-to-date with First Nation businesses or bookmark  #BuyIndigenous for your next gift idea and Supply Nation to search Indigineous direct businesses. 

You’re welcome,
Trade Blak.

Kumanjayi Walker- Understand

Hello  Ally,

Welcome to the third gift of anti-racism education – understanding.

Today we share with you the timeline of a 19 year old boy’s murder at the hands of a law enforcement official and his community’s resilience to continue fighting for justice. The recent developments of which bring some hope for 2021 as well as actions to be taken to help First Nation communities. An event connected to many events thereafter that already have caused some change and hopefully will lead to further change in Australia in the coming years. (5-6 mins read.)

Say his name - Kumanjayi Walker

Photo by: Justice for walker - Facebook Page (left) & Sydney Morning Herald (right)

It began a little over a year ago in a remote Northern Territory Town called Yuendumu. On November 9 2019, 19 year-old Kumanjayi Walker lost his life shortly after Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe shot him three times while attempting to arrest him.

As soon as his family were notified, they pieced together what had unfolded and were immediately afraid and concerned that justice had been, and was being compromised in Kumanjayi’s death. Many of his closest friends and relatives shared the pain of their loss with the media. His partner Kisha Robertson, too upset to talk, released a statement through her grandmother.”They met when they were only young,” she said, “And their love grew deeper.

Searching for Justice

Photo by: SBS (left); The Guardian (right)



Through the family’s grieving and fear, they decided to find justice for their son. Knowing how hard it would be to fight for a fair trial, the Walker family made a brave and rare decision to pursue legal action against Zachary Rolfe and join the emotional, financial and systemic battle that few First Nations communities have won.  

 

Within days his family released statements, looked for legal aid and started a fundraiser to gather funds for legal costs. Bail was still granted to the officer accused of killing Kumanjayi – a decision described by The NT Criminal Lawyers Association as “very unusual in the extreme”. The family knew from the beginning that they would be fighting an uphill battle. 

What happened next were many positive outcomes that followed this dreadful loss. A powerful timeline of the profound events including the love, hope and support for the Walker family is what we’ve put together for you next.

Hope for a better future

Photo by: The Guardian(left) & Justice for Walker - FB page (right)

Within just a week of Kumanjayi’s death, Zachary Rolfe had been charged with the murder of their son and the family had selected Barrister Andrew Boe to support their inquest. The family unanimously requested that Boe assemble a separate, independent legal team to represent the community to ensure the proceedings would not have any conflict of interest with their inquest. The Kumanjayi Walker case would involve three proceedings: criminal, coronial and civil. Their focus became about fighting a much broader, systemic issue affecting the community.

Photo by: The Conversation(left) & The Guardian (right)



Marches around Australia began in solidarity with Kumanjayi and the Yuendumu community. Webinars, vigils, concerts, fundraisers, social media activism and shares, moments of silence at sports events were other ways in which Australians extended their support in the months that followed. 

International celebrities shared their anguish, including The Black Eyed Peas band member, Taboo Nawasha, who showed solidarity at his central Australia show, holding the Indigenous flag as a tribute during their song “Where is the love?” and posting his support for Kumanjayi’s case. 

A Facebook page ‘Justice For Walker’ was made to document and share his story and to keep the wider community updated on their inquest. It quickly gained followers that actively began sharing their story. Support from all corners of the globe flooded to the tiny town of Yuendumu.

Photo by: Children's Ground,NT (left) & SBS (right)

By mid-December 2019, court proceedings for charges began in Alice Springs. Members of the Warlpiri and surrounding communities travelled close to five hours to Alice Springs from their small desert town to support the Walker family. Across the first half of 2020, the Kumanjayi family lived through more long court hearings and dealt with several postponements, pushing on with support from their committee and legal team in hopes for the murder case to be held at the Supreme Court in front of a jury. 

 

Black Lives Matter - At Home and Abroad

Throughout this year, COVID-19 dealt the community yet more hardship making it harder to pursue their case. Yet in June, the tragic killing of George Floyd by a police officer in the US led to something astonishing: protests calling for justice for black deaths in custody in the US, soon spreading to Australia. Over the course of several weeks, more than 60,000 people protested peacefully in all the major cities as well as Hobart, Darwin, Wyong, Mparntwe/Alice Springs and many more regional towns and cities.

On October 26th, almost a year after Zachary Rolfe was first charged with murder, the Yuendumu community recieved the news they had fought so hard for. Alice Springs local court judge John Birch ruled that constable Rolfe would stand trial for murder in the Australian Supreme Court, in spite of his lawyers arguing that he had no case to answer, with its first mention to be held on 25 November 2020. This is now the first NT murder trial to be held in the Supreme Court as a result from a case involving a black death in custody alleged by a law enforcement office. 

A Win to be Celebrated - And a Fight Still to be Fought

Although Walker’s family have won their first victory, so much more is still to be obtained for them and for many others. So many more systemic and legal issues for First Nations communities are yet to be recognised and changed.

 

We hope that through this family’s trauma, through the trauma felt by so many  throughout the past year, that new foundations are built, new voices are heard and judicial equity is pursued and enforced. Zachary Rolfe’s trial will be held amid a global reckoning on police and prison violence as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has focused new attention on First Nations families fighting for justice for Aboriginal deaths in custody.

 

We are taking this past year as one of the toughest our globe has seen, but for communities of Black, Indigneous and People of Colour the battles are still many and ongoing. We take today to commemorate justice for Kumanjayi Walker’s death in custody. Together we can continue to hear the voices of those around us, and support those that have been stripped of their power in the next decade.

 

Actions you can take

Here are some actions you can take to support the Walker family, and other First Nations families fighting for justice. 

Follow the Justice For Walker Facebook page to get regular updates  and donate here to support the campaign financially. 

Follow hastags on social media to get regular updates

#istandwithyuendumu #justiceforwalker

Support two other First Nation families fighting for justice for Aboriginal deaths in custody – David Dungay Junior – and Joyce Clark 

 Support and donate to ANTaR – a grassroots movement of Australians in support of justice, rights and respect for Australia’s First Peoples. 

The Facebook page ‘Justice For Walker’ has now gained over 10,000 followers in support. As of right now, the “Justice for Yuendumu” fund has raised over $363,000 and counting.