Read Australia Day

As uncomfortable as it is, we need to reckon with our history. On January 26, no Australian can really look away. There are the hard questions we ask of ourselves on Australia Day. Since publishing his critically acclaimed, Walkley Award-winning, bestselling memoir Talking to My Country in early 2016, Stan Grant has been crossing the country, talking to huge crowds everywhere about how racism is at the heart of our history and the Australian dream. But Stan knows this is not where the story ends. In this book, Australia Day, his long-awaited follow up to Talking to My Country, Stan talks about reconciliation and the indigenous struggle for belonging and identity in Australia, and about what it means to be Australian. A sad, wise, beautiful, reflective and troubled book, Australia Day asks the questions that have to be asked, that no else seems to be asking. Who are we? What is our country? How do we move forward from here?

With Australia Day, Stan Grant continues on from his previous book Speaking to my Country, collecting a range of pieces and ideas tied together, addressing land, family, race, history and nation to answer the question: who are we? The book is a mixture of personal memoir and philosophical exploration. It builds on his earlier book The Australian Dream.

I wrote a longer discussion here.

Liked Ibram X. Kendi on His New Book and Why Kids Today Need the Kinds of Books Being Banned by Zan Romanoff (Reader's Digest)

These diverse stories don’t just help us better understand ourselves, though. They also help us understand and empathize with people of different backgrounds.

“It is a huge loss for people to not be able to find themselves in books, particularly if they’re a person of color, if they’re queer, if they’re women or trans,” Kendi says. “And it’s a huge loss for people who are not trans and people who are not queer and who are not people of color. It’s a loss because they’re not able to learn about others.”

Liked Mixed – Remixed | Eylan Ezekiel (

We need better ways to talk about those of us who are mixed… than…’Mixed’. But, that said – there are more important systemic issues to tackle first, around ethnicity, class, gender, and power  – where those of more singular identities need intersectional understanding, activism and political support to change things for the better. There is a huge amount of work to be done yet.

And that’s where We – the ‘Mixed’ can come in.

Who better to help build bridges than those who have spanned multiple worlds their whole lives?

Who better to help heal the pain and fear of different ‘sides’ in the culture wars than those who’ve had to manage these uncomfortable feelings within their families and themselves?

Who better to show that in a world of ‘Either/Or’ there is joy in ‘And’?

Liked Joel Wilkinson, the AFL and the search for racial justice by Tracey Holmes (ABC News)

“Years ago I wanted to create a council of black players, past and present, to improve the support we have access to and enhance our collective bargaining power,” he says.

“So to prepare I thought it was best to attend the Indigenous camp for a few days. The AFLPA made me spend my own money to go, where they didn’t care if I slept on the floor.

“I said, ‘look, I’ve already spent over $1200 for this trip, you have funds as the AFLPA and you’re covering club staff and have a lot of money budgeted for the trip, why can’t you let me sleep in one of the player allocated rooms?

“I don’t want to mention where I slept, it’s degrading.

Liked Roald Dahl’s Anti-Black Racism (

Recently, the family of author Roald Dahl family apologized for anti-Semitic remarks he made. But Dahl, most famous for the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also brought young readers anti-Black racism in his original depiction of the Oompa-Loompas.
Dahl drew on his own life f…

Bookmarked Trump’s History of Racism and the Reckoning It Has Forced by Ibram X. Kendi (The Atlantic)

trump’s denials of his racism will never stop. He will continue to claim that he loves people of color, the very people his policies harm. He will continue to call himself “not racist,” and turn the descriptive term racist back on anyone who has the temerity to call out his own prejudice. Trump clearly hopes that racist ideas—paired with policies designed to suppress the vote—will lead to his reelection. But now that Trump has pushed a critical mass of Americans to a point where they can no longer explain away the nation’s sins, the question is what those Americans will do about it.

Ibram X. Kendi argues what Donald Trump has done more than any president before him to highlight the racism inherent in American society.

Though it was hardly his intention, no president has caused more Americans to stop denying the existence of racism than Donald Trump.

Kendhi maps Trumps actions to explain how we get to here suggesting a nation is what it does, not what it claims to do.

U.S. could just as accurately be described as a land in denial. It has been a massacring nation that said it cherished life, a slaveholding nation that claimed it valued liberty, a hierarchal nation that declared it valued equality, a disenfranchising nation that branded itself a democracy, a segregated nation that styled itself separate but equal, an excluding nation that boasted of opportunity for all. A nation is what it does, not what it originally claimed it would be. Often, a nation is precisely what it denies itself to be.

The question is what will happen next.

The abolition of slavery seemed as impossible in the 1850s as equality seems today. But just as the abolitionists of the 1850s demanded the immediate eradication of slavery, immediate equality must be the demand today. Abolish police violence. Abolish mass incarceration. Abolish the racial wealth gap and the gap in school funding. Abolish barriers to citizenship. Abolish voter suppression. Abolish health disparities. Not in 20 years. Not in 10 years. Now.

In a separate piece in GQ, ZZ Packer provides a profile of Kendhi and a discussion of his work.

One problem is that most white people think of racism as a moral failing wrapped in an identity. They want to say “I am not a racist” the way Richard Nixon insisted “I am not a crook.” But in How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi argues that policies and actions are racist, not people. You can express a racist notion in one part of a sentence, he says, and an antiracist notion in another.

Bookmarked Mystery Road offers a different model for police shows in the age of Black Lives Matter by Hannah Reich ([object Object])

Long-running TV shows have been cancelled in the wake of the wave of Black Lives Matter protests, but this Australian series offers a different model for the police procedural.

Hannah Reich discusses the problems associated with a one-side perspective of police portrayed on the screen. Shows like Mystery Road are challenging this by including more diversity within the writers’ room.
Bookmarked I Am a Book Critic. Here’s What Is Wrong With “Black Lists” — and What Is Good. (

It’s difficult to know, in the typical chicken-and-egg conundrum, the extent to which Amazon is driving the public discussion on race, or our public debate is driving Amazon sales. Are the “Black Lists” pushing traffic on Amazon to particular books, and then those books pick up steam through the Amazon algorithm and get even more prominence? Or are loafing critics and readers cribbing from Amazon? At any rate, the online behemoth continues to hawk products by prioritizing them according to strong sales history and high conversion rates. The tyranny of the algorithm worsens our collective mental sloth where race is concerned. This mixture of culture, publishing, and code conflates traffic analytics with quality, and algorithmic recommendations with urgency.

Rich Benjamin discusses some of the problems and limitations to lists of books responding to political turmoil, particularly the impact of recommendation algorithms.
Liked Stories Can Help Us Fly with Dr Denise Chapman (

Children’s literature and other media can help children to build bridges and engage with people they may not encounter in their everyday lives and find connections to work together when they may not share common ground. Author Michele Norris notes, “Words are this connective tissue that allow us to listen and to find each other”, and I believe that stories that are representative of our society fuel us all forward towards social belonging and the liberation we all need.

Liked Tech companies caring about Black Lives Matter is too little, too late (Fast Company)

What is happening is an example of what is sometimes called “performative wokeness.” These companies issuing a statement that they “stand with the Black community” is the absolute least they can do. It would be better to remain silent rather than reveal their rank hypocrisy. Many of these companies generate profit either by exploiting Black labor and/or by amplifying hate and extremism that directly harms Black folks. If Amazon truly felt that Black lives matter, its executives would change the way they treat their workforce, stop selling their facial recognition software Rekognition, and dismantle their Ring Doorbell and Neighbors programs. If Facebook truly stood with the Black community, it would eliminate the widespread organizing of white supremacy on its platform. But it’s unlikely that those changes will happen anytime soon.

Bookmarked Do Protests Even Work? (The Atlantic)

Movements, and their protests, are powerful because they change the minds of people, including those who may not even be participating in them, and they change the lives of their participants.

In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy.

Zeynep Tufekci explores the potential of protests to challenge the legitimacy of those in power. As she explains, what would have taken years to coordinate in the past can now be organised in days with apps and digital platforms. This lack of friction can subsequently dilute the impact of such movements. However, what can make a protest more pertinent is the level of risk associated with it. As Tufekci highlights with the current situation in America.

The current Black Lives Matter protest wave is definitely high risk through the double whammy of the pandemic and the police response. The police, the entity being protested, have unleashed so much brutality that in just three weeks, at least eight people have already lost eyesight to rubber bullets. One Twitter thread dedicated to documenting violent police misconduct is at 600 entries and counting. And nobody seems safe—not even a 75-year-old avowed peacenik who was merely in the way of a line of cops when he was shoved so violently that he fell and cracked his skull. Chillingly, the police walked on as he bled on the ground. After the video came out to widespread outrage, and the two police officers who shoved him were suspended, their fellow officers on the active emergency-response team resigned to support their colleagues. Plus the pandemic means that protesters who march in crowds, face tear gas, and risk jail and detention in crowded settings are taking even more risks than usual.

The challenge with any protest is the fear repression. This is what stopped the Chinese protests in 1989 and the Egyptian protests in 2013. However, such measures have their limits.

Force and repression can keep things under control for a while, but it also makes such rule more brittle.

The challenge to power and repression is overcome by changing the culture and conversation. This is required to undermine the legitimacy.

Legitimacy, not repression, is the bedrock of resilient power.

This is why Anne Helen Petersen argues that small protests in small towns matter because there have been a lot of them, therefore the bedrock is crumbling.

Rebecca Solnit uses the metaphor of a waterfall to describe such change:

The metaphor of the river of time is often used to suggest that history flows at a steady pace, but real rivers have rapids and shallows, eddies and droughts. They freeze over and get dammed and their water gets diverted. And sometimes the river comes to the precipice and we’re all in the waterfall. Time accelerates, things change faster than anyone expected, water clear as glass becomes churning whitewater, what was thought to be impossible or the work of years is accomplished in a flash

When they are a consensus idea, that’s the end of the insurrection, or the waterfall, and politicians are smoothing things over and people have accepted the idea that they at first resisted, whether it’s the abolition of slavery or the right to marriage equality

Although she suggests there are groups who deserve credit for escalating the current situation.

One more group deserves credit for the present moment: the police. They themselves have made a fantastic case for defunding or abolition—at least as they currently exist. Nationwide, with the whole world watching, these civil servants showed they use public funds to brutalize, murder, and deny the constitutional rights of members of that public. One might imagine they’d have wanted to be careful in the wake of the Floyd murder, but they went on a spectacular display of their own sense of immunity by—well, shooting out the eyes of eight people with “sublethal” weapons, managing to blind a photojournalist in one eye; attacking and arresting dozens of members of the media at work, especially nonwhite ones; San Jose police shooting their own anti-bias trainer in the testicles; knocking over an old man who’s still in critical condition as a result (yeah the one Trump theorized must be Antifa); teargassing children; pointing weapons at other small children; and generally showing us that the only people the police protect are the police. They struck the match that lit the bonfire. Because they thought they could not themselves burn, and that they were indispensable. They’re wrong on both counts.

The Black Lives Matter movement itself has been building since 2013.

However, as Stan Grant highlights in regards to the recognition of Australia’s indigenous people in the consitution, such success can be a long time coming. This is something Doug Belshaw touches on in his reading of Guy Debord’s Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

Here is the problem for the person, or group of people, wishing to smash the spectacle, to dismantle it, to take it apart. It must be done in one go, rather than piecemeal. Otherwise, the spectacle has too much capacity to self-repair.

Bookmarked Why must Indigenous claims for justice always be cast as an attack on the state? (

Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait, asks Stan Grant.

Stan Grant discusses the long history of waiting to be recognised in the Australian constitution. The crisis is therefore a critical test for democracy. As Grant explains:

We walk the same fault lines here. Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait?

Bookmarked John Oliver: US policing is ‘a structure built on systemic racism’ (the Guardian)

The Last Week Tonight host traces the history of America’s police culture, one ‘deeply entwined’ with white supremacy, and what’s obstructing change

John Oliver responds wave of protests sweeping America with a deep dive into policing in the USA. He explains that too often black communities are treated disproportionately.

“For any viewers sitting at home shocked by the scenes of police brutality, I get it – I’m white, too,” said Oliver. “But it’s worth remembering: that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. It didn’t start this week, or with this president, and it always disproportionately falls on black communities.”

This history can be traced from capturing escaped slaves to the policy of stop and frisk. Associated with this, police have become heavily armed.

On top of that, America has armed police “to the fucking teeth”, a subject Oliver and his team investigated six years ago. This has promoted a sub-industry of training seminars to reinforce the idea of the police at war, such as the “killology” training, a haunting clip of which showed an officer telling fellow cops to think of themselves as “predators”. “You know, the problem with telling someone that they’re a predator is that it primes them to see the rest of the world as potential prey,” Oliver said. “And of course cops who went through this training would end up on edge. You wouldn’t train a barber by saying, ‘here are your scissors, snip like this, and oh yeah, this is how you puncture the carotid artery.’”

Often this spending is in place of other social and health services. This is something that Douglas Rushkoff touches on.

Civil servants can only exist in a civil society. And a civil society requires servants trained in civility.

Oliver explains that at the heart of all this is a culture of systemic racism.

“If you’re not directly impacted by it,” Oliver concluded, “it is tempting to look for a reason to feel better about the world, to look at pictures of cops kneeling and think oh, well, we just need more of that! But we need so much more than that. Because ours is a firmly entrenched system in which the roots of white supremacy run deep. And it is critical that we all grab a fucking shovel.”

Elsewhere on the web, Stephen Ceasar reports on the military weapons being used to protect schools.

The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.

Cory Doctorow rightly calls out the absurdity of this.

If you think that “facilitating education” involves an AR-15, you should not be allowed within 10 miles of any educational institution, for the rest of your life.

Mariame Kaba argues that reform is not enough and what ‘defund the police’ actually means.

We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.

We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained “community care workers” could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.

This should also include defunding facial recognition.

Speaking from a local perspective, Marcia Langton used her Queen’s Birthday honour to call for urgent action. Responding to the fact that since the royal commission’s final report in 1991 432 Aboriginal people have died in prison, and the Indigenous incarceration rate is double what it was 30 years ago.

I would have thought it’s pretty straightforward. Do not kill Aborigines.

Liked Black Lives matter; We matter (EduResearch Matters)

Just so that you are clear, I cannot speak for a whole race of people, but I will give you some ideas from me.

  • We can no longer be the only ones fighting for change, we need your voice in it. Change it.
  • Any workplace that you are in, make sure you engage with us from the beginning, and make our employment meaningful and long term. Change it.
  • Our voice should be in decision making from the start. Change it.
  • Read anything you can get your hands on written by us, recorded by us. Our voices. Learn. Change it.
  • Many of us still live in poverty. Change it.
  • You also need to fight back for curriculum change, and ways of teaching for all kids. If you are a teacher please read the amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and First Nations people that write in Education. Like anything else you don’t know, you research it. Go to your schools and ask the hard questions. Support them. This is a big one, because this could bring about systematic change at the highest level and could bring about the greatest change.  Change it.
  • Don’t just stand back and be a bystander. Change it.
  • We know the cultural interface place is hard, guess what? It is also hard for us. Be brave. Be open to learn. Change it.
  • If you ask Elders or our people for advice, actively listen. Make the change. Change it.
  • Understand not everyone sees the world like you do. To many of us, going out into the world feels like walking into an aliens’ land, in our own Country. Our worldview is different. And we prefer it. Understand this. Change it.
  • Treat our Elders with respect. On this Country their word is lore/law. Change it.
  • And lastly, but not least. Don’t see us as disadvantaged. We are strong. We are proud. We love. We honour family. We honour Country. And we will continue to fight and fight until we do not have breath. And then we will fight and fight some more. Understand this. Change it.
  • Have your declaration and commitment ready. We want to hear from you.
Liked And They Never Would by jonharper70 (

Sometimes there are stories inside of us just waiting to be told. This is my attempt at telling one through the genre of realistic fiction. I imagine each reader will come away with something different. This week I am telling the same story as last week, just from the perspective of a different character. I’ve never done this before, so I welcome any and all feedback in the comments section below.

Replied to Do The Work (W. Ian O’Byrne)

The purpose of these reading and discussion groups are to strive to understand the history of pervasive structural and systemic racism in America, and how this impacts the present, the future, and ourselves. We intend to create safe, brave spaces to facilitate discussions as we co-investigate anti-racist texts and their role in our individual and collective contexts. You can participate with the groups even if you don’t want to collaborate and co-investigate. We’d like to leave the door open for those that just need the extra push to read these books and question themselves.

Ian, I am left wondering if the work that I need to do is in my own backyard, being an advocate for Australia’s indigenous people.