This is the audio recording from the webinar ”Different soil, same story: Black Lives Matter’ that took place on Tuesday 28 July 2020. Note: the introduction of this audio has been slightly modified for a smoother listening experience and the Q&A session has been removed for privacy reasons. Please do not reproduce without permission.
The global movement, Black Lives Matter (BLM), has transcended the discrete and localised protests in their home base. The tipping point for BLM and the world was the premature death and alleged murder of George Floyd in the USA – seen and heard, from a mobile phone video. The words, “I can’t breathe”, uttered by George before he died were words that reinforced the depravity of institutional racism and brutality. A short time later, Reyshard Brooks was shot by police.
Mass protests of supporters - white, Indigenous and people of colour - surged throughout the globe, demanding justice, institutional reforms and an end to racism. Australia, like the USA, has a long history of documented racism and racial violence against Indigenous and people of colour. Black deaths in custody is symptomatic of institutional intransigence. Since the First Fleet stepped onto Indigenous land, Indigenous peoples of Australia experienced frontier violence, segregation and assimilation policies, a history of slavery, racial profiling and various forms of overt and covert racism. Some of the questions these global issues raise requires reflection.
The stance taken by some of the world’s leading universities on BLM has been criticised by the student body as lip-service. Some of the questions we can begin with are: How does BLM relate to the role and responsibility of universities and other educational institutions? How is our work impacted by BLM & Indigenous Australia, and if so, how do we participate in being central to reform in the work that we do? Does our work hold up a mirror to the issues highlighted by BLM, and the research we undertake and the materials and resources we use to educate?
About the speaker
Dr Virginia Marshall is a Wiradjuri Nyemba woman, practising solicitor and the leading legal scholar on Indigenous Australian water rights. She is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, with the School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) and Fenner School of Environment and Society and Distinguished Women Scholar (University of Victoria BC).
Virginia is the author of the award winning seminal book Overturning Aqua Nullius (2017). She is a committee member of the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee, Board member of the ANU Australian Studies Institute and judge to the Jessup International Law Moot Competition & the Law Society of NSW Mock Trial.