The balance between wanting to stay informed & wanting to preserve our mental health is one we've been struggling with these past few days. The images coming out if the US of Black Lives Matter protests are shocking and sometimes terrifying, but are ultimately necessary viewing.
Having the option to turn off the news and stop thinking about racism and police brutality is a privilege not everyone has. To close your computer, or turn off your phone, and be able to walk out the door without wondering if a policeman will end your life before you see your loved ones again is not a universal experience.
Here in Australia, where the numbers for the incarceration of Indigenous Australians are just as high as the numbers of Black Americans incarcerated, that privilege of "logging off for your mental health" is not afforded to all our citizens equally.
So for that reason, we must continue to witness the way the police are reacting to Black protesters. We have to continue to question why they allowed armed white protesters to demonstrate against stay-at-home orders just weeks ago, but are escalating the peaceful protests against racism. We also have to ask ourselves, as non-Indigenous Australians, whether we have more in common with the police or the protesters. We need to continue to identify the ways we contribute to racism in Australia and continue to dismantle our learned biases and prejudices. We have to look at the actions of Australian police and hold ourselves accountable for the pervasive racism here as well.
In the US, Black Americans make up 13% of the total population, but 40% of the incarcerated population. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up only 3% of the total population, but 29% of the incarcerated population. This is an alarming statistic, that we cannot shy away from.
By now, if you have been in online spaces recently you may well have seen the statistic that over 400 Indigenous Australians have died in police custody since 1991 with not a single conviction made. See the updated list here. We respectfully advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that this site contains images of and references to deceased persons.
All of this online discourse happening during National Reconciliation Week only adds to the deep sadness of an already heartbreaking conversation. This is an important conversation to have, and while we don't want to speak in spaces that are not ours, to not speak would be complicity. We also felt that just a Twitter hashtag or IG post would be nothing more than empty lip service.
The fact that we are still living through a pandemic makes it impossible for some to protest, but we still need to take action to affect change. So we spoke in the only language capitalism understands. Money. We each donated to a different Indigenous-focused charity from our personal money (you all know BANGERS&MASH makes no profit, so it was always going to be personal money) and each selected a charity we thought could help provide a better future for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
We hope that your outrage during this time can also translate to action.
Here are the three charities we chose and more, for you to donate to if you have the funds:
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation
We are a national book industry charity dedicated to lifting literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities, so all children across Australia have the same choices and opportunities.
Hannah said: Stories are what connect us. They allow us to experience other people's perspectives and live a life outside our own. Literacy is the gateway to not only an open heart & mind, but also to better education and more opportunities.
Wirringa Baiya Legal Fund
Wirringa Baiya provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and youth in NSW with a gender-specific service which is sensitive to their culturally diverse needs and to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are victims of violence, with access to appropriate legal representation, advice and referral. ➜ Donate now
Emilee said: A women's legal fund based in Sydney is something close to me. I have had my own struggles with the legal system after experiencing violence, but I am not faced with the added pressure of being socioeconomically disadvantaged. Every person deserves safety and fair access to legal resources that can achieve that.
Seed is Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. We are building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Our vision is for a just and sustainable future with strong cultures and communities, powered by renewable energy. ➜ Donate now
Charlie said: The climate crisis is one that affects us all, but it is affecting Indigenous communities more drastically than others. They are the original inhabitants of this land and understand it better than anyone, which is why I chose to donate to SEED,
The Healing Foundation
The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families. Our work helps people create a different future. We work with communities to create a place of safety, providing an environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories and be in charge of their own healing.
Yalari is a not-for-profit organisation that offers quality, secondary education scholarships at leading Australian boarding schools for Indigenous children from regional, rural and remote communities.
Gunawirra is predicated on two gifts from ancient Aboriginal peoples: The Dreaming and Dadirri. We combine symbolic psychoanalytic thinking, with the ancient form of Dadirri and The Dreaming to help restore the internal world for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island mothers and children. From The Dreaming and Dadirri we gain ideas of how trauma was treated and the roots of how we treat trauma today. ➜ Donate now
Wunan is an Aboriginal development organisation in the East Kimberley, with a clear purpose and strategy to drive long-term socio-economic change for Aboriginal people by providing real opportunities, investing in people’s abilities, and by encouraging and rewarding aspiration and self-responsibility.