Tuesday, 19 July 2016

If in reality all lives matter than the tooth fairy exists

I am going to tell you an absurd story. One I don’t like to remember. One I wish never happened to me. Something that I wish never would happen to anyone. It’s one of the reasons the #BlackLivesMatter movement has struck a chord with me as it has done with many other Aboriginal people.

When I was 19 I was dating a guy whose best mate didn’t like Aboriginal people. The mate was involved with kick boxing gym where he met people involved in a white supremacy group.  He regularly referred to me as the “black slut” or “black cunt” irrespective of whether I was in earshot or not. He would run down Aboriginal people in front of me without shame.

On my 20th birthday I was spending time with my boyfriend when he received a call from his mate asking to be picked up from his girlfriend’s place. Once he found out my boyfriend was with me he kicked off the abuse. I could hear what he was saying and it was the same stuff I had heard for months. I had had enough. What occurred next is something I am not proud of. I ended up engaging in an argument over the phone with my boyfriend’s mate and made a disparaging comment about his girlfriend.

My boyfriend told me later that I shouldn’t make trouble due to the type of people the girlfriends family were. When he picked his mate up later that day mates father in law was cleaning an illegal semi-automatic weapon.

At that time, I worked for a fashion retailer. A few days after the phone incident I was at work when man approached me and asked me if I was “Summer”. He told me that if I ever said anything about his daughter again he would kill me. I was shocked, numb and confused. After my shift I rang my boyfriend and parents. No one knew what to do.

This was not my first experience of racism but has certainly been one of the most significant and prolonged experiences. I had been called “Abo”, had people run down Aboriginal people for being lazy, drunks when they found out I am Aboriginal, all the typical stereotypical nonsense but nothing like this. 

This threat of violence started because I am Aboriginal.  

Racism may not always lead to violence but racial violence is always preceded by racism. This is true for both the public and police. While we have societies which condones or refuses to call out racism we are going to have discrimination and racially motivated violence. We are going to have inequality and once inequality exists it is likely to assist in maintaining inequality. 

The #AllLivesMatter movement doesn't understand the very nature of the inequality #BlackLivesMatter seeks to address. While I agree all lives matter, we need to focus on the inequality between black and white if we are ever to have a reality where all lives matter. The only way to do that is to focus on the issue of inequality. Focusing on all lives shifts the focus away from the inequality. We need #BlackLivesMatter to call out the racism. #BlackLivesMatter allows the pervasive nature of racism to be acknowledged and the affect it has. I want a world where I am not accustomed to racism. I want a world where all lives really do matter.

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