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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Black Lives – A White Matter

Black Lives – A White Matter

Black voices all around the world have spoken. They are demanding equality. They are calling for systemic change. They have asked us to stop killing them. They have told us they can’t breathe. That’s a confronting statement. It’s an even more confronting reality.

Even as a supporter of Black Lives Matter, and someone who absolutely believes in the message, the whiteness of my skin makes me complicit. I am complicit not through action, but rather through inaction. Through the fact that nothing has changed. 432 Indigenous deaths and custody and no charges laid? How can that even be possible? We know if there were 432 dead white people this would not be the case.

Why don’t we see black lives? Why don’t we hear black voices? We have been snow blind. Even those of us who, like me, call for accountability. I am still a beneficiary of racial inequity. My whiteness is my privilege, it is the unseen social passport that allows me passage. I know when I am pulled over for speeding, my car will not be searched, when I walk through a department store I will not be watched, when I stand at the counter, I will be served first. That doesn’t feel like privilege when you’re used to it. But that’s the point – my privilege is embedded in a system that favours me. In a system that selects me, with an invisible hand on my back that pushes me forward, it doesn’t push me down. It doesn’t press its knee into my neck.

Black Lives Matter has drawn attention to the fact that racism is a white issue. It is an issue that white people need to own. They need to talk about it. They need to dismantle it – and not slowly. They need to burn it to the ground. It is an issue that can’t be properly addressed until true systemic change happens – in the police force, in the legal system, in society. The current system’s mechanisms for change were built by a system that defaults to the status quo. These are the machines of privilege built by white men – by slave traders and colonials. These are the institutions that talk about ‘inviting’ these conversations around equity to the table.

But it is a table where every seat is occupied by white men. How hard is it to start a conversation with an establishment that are already sitting? Black people are tired of waiting outside for a chair to become available. That table has never offered anything but disappointment and only illusory change.

The table needs to be broken. It’s time to find a new table. We are starting to hear black rage. Rage at the injustice, and the inequity, at the lack of acknowledgement, at theft, at murder, at our cultural pillage. That anger makes us uncomfortable. It makes me want to say ‘it wasn’t me’. ‘Hey brother, it was my ancestors maybe, but it’s not me.’  But it is me. Because my ancestors aren’t here.

It’s my responsibility to make restitution, to accept blame, to listen, and to step aside. It shouldn’t be up to the black communities around the world to keep having to explain. Our stupidity, our ignorance, our desire to understand should not be their burden. The onus is on us. For Black Lives to Matter – there needs to be action. White acknowledgement. White surrender. That is the true discomfort for the incumbent. Are we prepared to power share? Are we prepared to step back while our black brothers and sisters navigate a new space; one where white people haven’t drawn the lines? I am hoping the answer is ‘Yes.’


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21 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Black Lives – A White Matter”

  1. Vincent says:

    Pity the Byron Bay BLM demonstrators ignored social distancing rules on Saturday.
    They demonstrated their lack of concern for the welfare of others while pretending to be virtuous.
    Hypocrites.

  2. Ken says:

    Floyd,
    personifies the increasing brutality and militarisation of what is supposed to be a civil servant of the public. I, however, revere Floyd , whether Black ,White or indeed Pink.
    As a fellow supporter of ‘black lives matter’, I’d like to advise you not to open a vein just yet, after all , here in Australia , although you profess to not hearing or seeing ‘ black lives’, yet “432 Indigenous deaths and (sic) custody” rolls off everybodies tongue, but I ask you , how many other vulnerable lives were lost in police custody in the last thirty years ? You don’t know or care apparently !
    I contend that Aboriginal Australians have THE greatest publicly funded P.R. network (dedicated T.V. and radio stations ), legal service ,health service, free transport and education ,even a separate and exclusive legal system but still comprise about a third of criminal and violent crime statistics , with their greatest threat being domestic violence.
    In spite of this, these people control the majority of Australias National Parks , have immunity from killing protected species ( Dugongs ,Turtles and Wombats, etc, ) and although comprising just 3% of the population are demanding their own House of Parliament.
    Come on Mandy , sober up and get real. The band-wagon is already overcrowded !
    Cheers, G”)

  3. Power share…… YES. All that’s happening now is so much
    like the supposed great US-of-A. No different to Standing
    Rock. First Nation (Native Americans) have taught us how
    difficult & cunning Politicians are & the force that’s been
    used against indigenous people. I hear from my family
    repeatedly that nothing’s changed in the USA. No chance
    Mr President will grow a heart or brain. I’m only 1/4 blood
    F.N. but I’ll say it again; we need to ‘Power Share’. Many
    thanks for your article, Mandy.

  4. Marion Riordan says:

    Exquisitely said!
    Black lives lost to white hands.
    Since the arrival of Europeans.
    This MUST MATTER to us or it will continue to ferment and fester as we push it away, push it down. So much energy spent on maintaining a lie which none of us truly believe.
    Bring it up, get it out, face our truth together & finally start to heal.
    Or perpetuate our lie & our ugliness by abusing the people & their message we try so hard not to hear.

  5. Barrow says:

    Never heard of this Jacinta Price ! Aboriginal lady
    On the local council in Alice Springs , certainly gave a different perspective on these protesters and the Media . Hypocrisy is a understatement she said ..

  6. roger says:

    babies and bathwater all the way Mandy – and spoken in perfect English too.
    Hands up those who want to live in pre-settlement Australia……
    …anyone?

    Of course we should seek justice for criminal behaviour, whether it be a policeman or Floyd himself (and not by killing him obviously), but let’s stop trying to pretend this is everyone else’s fault.
    It seems to me the behaviours are not as important as the agendas.

  7. CR Jacinta Price [Alice Springs]… is a Conservative.
    It’s not surprising she’d agree to an alliance with our
    Federal Government.

  8. DD says:

    Words are empty. Do something about the ‘Coon’ cheese and ‘Samboy’ crisps that you buy in your supermarkets. Or did you not notice? Oh and don’t forget ‘Uncle Tom’s’; the slights are endless and have been for years in Byronshire. How far are you willing to go really?

  9. Barrow says:

    There lies the problem dos it not Stefanie ? because she is conservative she is automatically labeled!!’ this Aboriginal lady ! Shame !
    And Jacinta Price is not Agreeing to a Conservative
    Alliance !! Are you implying this first people’s lady is incorrect ? Watch or listen to her Interview Stefanie. Or debunk her ?

  10. Barrow says:

    Roger okay its Settled, you make the first Move!!
    Leave Australia !! And lets just see how many
    Follow your hands up !! Talk the talk ???

  11. No-one has stuck ‘a label’ on CR Price, Barrow…I have
    read her statements & beliefs regarding ‘the head of
    Council’. We live in this so-called free-world & Price
    has the democratic right to belong to a Council she so
    happily belongs to. Up-front. She is her own decision
    maker. I’ve known & worked with Aboriginal women
    from the NT & North Qld many moons back, some
    were university educated others not. Don’t dare try
    to lecture me on an indigenous issue you’ve made a
    mess of. My work groups [Aboriginal] worked their
    way into significant jobs that were badly needed. Now
    Roger’s copping it…? Your silliness goes too far. Or
    do you think I’m some 1/4 cast Paugussett-Shawnee
    idiot. You shame yourself.

  12. Susan Presser says:

    In my opinion, to say you have white ‘privilege’ means that you think you are above and better than blacks, which is racist.

  13. roger says:

    this statement will be picked to pieces regardless of its naive truth.

  14. roger says:

    Barrow – perhaps it’s me, but I don’t follow you.
    Are you saying you want to live in a lean-to or humpy – without English, or running water, or books, or tea, or coffee, or sugar, or cars, or internet, or, or , or.. ? Let alone the barbaric treatment of women and children.
    Is this what you are after?

  15. Dennis F says:

    Finally, someone who can do simple maths – well done Susan.

  16. Want some home truths that apply world wide,
    Barrow. Look up Alice Walker, the woman who
    wrote The Colour Purple. She’s talking about
    ‘The Arrow In The Heart’ & what’s happening
    now. Several remarkable interviews from a
    feminist coloured woman.

  17. Talk talk talk says:

    Yes Mandy but what are you going to actually do, specifically, personally, today?

  18. Well, we know she won’t hide behind a name that
    isn’t her own. First names only? Made-up names?
    Only 2 out of 17 let the public know who’s for real,
    Barrow.

  19. Barrow says:

    Roger your last statement did not address mine ?
    Look it is not my fault that i wake up every day
    As a Anglo Saxon in Australia, i was born here and ever so grateful i can share with the True owners
    Of Australia, the Custodians, the first People’s this great land . Unlike most of you pretending Greens
    The Aborigines are the ultimate environmentalist
    Eco Warriors ! Was working in the NT recently when a Nurse explained the story of a young Aboriginal mother who had complications after birth and flew her to alice springs hospital for surgery, upon her release they said we will fly you back . No was the answer !! This young mother walked the 580 km with baby in Arms , so worried were the medical staff .she arrived back to her community 3 weeks later , the nurse and doctors check mother and daughter both were in perfect
    Health . They asked her how did you make your way back ? We have been doing this for 10s or thousands of years . Roger the first people’s do not
    Need introduced privilege’s !!

  20. Just goes to show the mind & physical ‘strength of women’
    everywhere, Barrow. In 1973 [as a passenger] I got king
    -hit by a semitrailer outside Grafton. Took hours to get me
    out of that mess. Hospital says; leg to be remover. No
    way. Rental car got me to Sydney. In spite of head injuries
    & countless others & 3 years of treatment I’m still here &
    so is the leg. Women just get on with it, Barrow. The mother
    you speak of is a woman & like most of us knows what’s got
    to be done. I’d like to see our politicians carrying a pumpkin
    while walking 580 km. Do ’em a power of good I reckon.
    I’m still not sure why you haven’t answered Roger.

  21. Barrow says:

    If i had to i can do anything ! Iam strong , iam invincible!! Iam women .. such resilient humans
    Are women, absolute gold standard my mother who is 86 included . There is no greater love than the love a child has for his Mum !! Dads sometimes are a forgotten commodity !! Just as loved but in a different way .. but together Stefanie as a team they raise families to the best of their
    Circumstances. Not always perfect but what is .
    I have shown nothing but respect for all humans
    No matter what sex , gender , or Race .. however
    We do not always agree with views, or opinions
    Or beliefs . We are very lucky that this Country
    Allows such a broad view of just that, including the
    Echo . May God bless you all .. including you Stefanie.. may you live forever ?

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