As thousands continue to show their solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement amid a global pandemic, Indigenous Australians say now is the time to listen.
Darumbal and Bailai man Matthius Mann, 22, said the protests were a rare opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be heard.
“This is one of the most powerful ways that our people can [speak up] because our people have been doing it for centuries, for years,” he said.
“I hope that our justice system and also our government will actually listen.
“We know that they can hear us but it just seems like they don’t really listen to what we say and what we stand for.”
Mr Mann said those who frowned upon the movement did not understand what Indigenous Australians had been through.
“It’s for the future generations, so that they don’t have to face the things that my people have faced,” he said.
Waluwurra woman Aunty Kylie Major-Oakley, 37, joined the protest with her children.
“They’re growing up in a society where they’re still stereotyped,” she said.
“It’s about educating those who have opinions, those stereotypes against us as Aboriginal people.
For Aunty Major-Oakley, the movement is an opportunity to set an example for the next generation.
“Our people have always been suppressed and to support our people, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to have that voice is really important,” she said.
“That’s why I brought my children today, to see how it works and to help them and encourage them to stand up and speak, because they’re our future leaders.”
‘Don’t be racist’
Darumbal boy Walali Hatfield, 8, said marching made him feel anxious, happy and proud.
“Black lives really do matter, we’re not doing any crime or anything, that’s just our coloured skin.”
He had a simple message.
“Don’t be racist and don’t judge people by their skin colour,” he said.
Police brutality ‘still happening today’
Annette Dudley, 44, of Bailai, Murray Island (Torres Strait) and Tanna Island (Vanuatu) descent, joined the protest in solidarity of the movement but also because of a personal connection to its history.
“My uncle was a victim of police brutality way back in the 70s at Mackay watch house,” she said.
“It’s a matter that impacts and affects generations coming through and it’s still happening today.
“It’s not something that’s going to go away.”
She is hoping for change at all levels.
“The light has shone on [systemic racism] and it’s actually opening up people’s eyes and it starts the conversation, which helps that movement for change.
“I think if people are open to that, then it slowly will be a better place.”
‘It’s about time’
Goreng Goreng woman Letitia Smith, 20, said now was the time for change.
“It’s time for our mob to move forward and heal properly and stop getting brought back by wrongful incarceration,” she said.
“I think youth are pinpointed a lot, for break and enters.
‘It’s always blamed on Indigenous youth and I think it’s because they’re so easy to point their fingers at.
“It’s just baby steps at the moment and I think that’s what these protests are for, because it’s about time it’s all happening.”
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