Global rallies against racism should bring change

Dennis Fitzgerald
Filed on June 19, 2020

In the end it will be the words spoken or written into laws that will make the changes and actions will prompt this change

History is no longer just a collection of dates, locations and events, it is a provocation, a reality, and a justification. History becomes a raying call if not a war cry but what is the history of any event?

An initial problem with interpreting history is that it is fluid based on who is telling the story and even how much of the story is known. Rodney King's story became a turning point in history, not just because he was telling the truth but when it was supported by video evidence. Australia is a country with a positive reputation and is seen to be a friendly and open society. One example of the problem with viewing history was when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison proudly said, "There was no slavery in Australia" (June 11) but he was quickly corrected. Slavery is illegal in Australia as it is in most countries but the semantics that slavery didn't exist because the indigenous people who were placed on farms as 'workers' and 'domestics' and didn't get any pay apart from a roof and food weren't slaves is surely flawed as this is just legalised slavery. Semantics do not change the truth nor should they be used to attempt to change history.

Another sad story of the mistreatment of history also comes from Australia where a mining company Rio Tinto blew up, legally, an indigenous site with rock paintings approximately 46,000 years old. When history can be destroyed so easily so can the lessons from it. We must learn from history and be honest about what has happened.

As a white, middle-class person, I have no real knowledge or understanding of the issues involved on the 'Black Lives Matter' beyond the obvious, Black lives do matter, the treatment of people of different colours is different, the police are meant to protect is from danger but sometimes, and more frequently in the US, they are the danger. My only experience of prejudice and a trivial one is the differences between Catholic and Presbyterian communities in a small country town, probably based on the stories from when the families lived in Ireland in the 1850s. Social groupings were still fairly separate even in the 1960s and it influenced employment opportunities and who were meant to be your friends.

One of the rallying posters from World War I asked, "Daddy, what did you do in the great war?" and the basis of the question applies just as much now in the war against racism and violence. Most people support equality but won't take up the opportunity to talk, but they should make a statement in some way, kneeling, wearing a badge, donating to charities and writing to their elected representatives. In the end it will be the words spoken or written into laws that will make the changes and actions will prompt this change.

History will record this year as dangerous because of the Covid-19 virus, disgraceful because of the death of one man, embarrassing because of US President Donald Trump but what I want it to record is that finally change occurred to stop racism and violence.

I will wait, I will stand and kneel, I will hope. -Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia



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