Your local MP definitely didn’t see your Instagram post. Here’s how to tell them you want to see change.
You posted a black tile and attended the rally – now what?
At the Adelaide Black Lives Matter protest on the weekend, activists and community members spoke from the elevated platform at Tarntanyangga and welcomed thousands of new faces into the movement.
This latest wave of protests across the world was catalysed by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota while in the custody of a four police officers, including Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the George’s neck for almost nine minutes.
Read CityMag’s feature on the Adelaide Black Lives Matter protest here.
Scroll to the bottom of this article for a guide to contacting your local politician.
It was, at the time, only the latest example in a long history of racist violence perpetrated against Black people in the US, committed by a white police officer and sanctioned by an institution with an inbuilt and unchecked prejudice against people of colour.
In the weeks since, the protests have only uncovered deeper and more vicious displays of racism and racist violence from US police forces.
Unsurprisingly, the anger and frustration found resonance here in Australia, amongst communities of activists who’ve spent generations fighting for the recognition of and calling for an end to institutional violence against Indigenous people.
Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was released in 1991, there have been more than 400 Indigenous deaths in custody. There has not been a single conviction of anyone involved in any of these deaths.
This number includes the 10 deaths in custody in South Australia since 2008, which the Guardian is charting.
The frustration is understandable on the numbers alone, let alone the fact several of the speakers at the Adelaide Black Lives Matter protest – like Major Moogy Sumner and Yvonne Agius – are aged in their 70s and have been advocating for change for most of, if not all of their lives.
Despite a long history of pain and activism in this country, the death and violence has not stopped.
Even last week, amid global calls for an end to police violence against people of colour, the police commissioner of New South Wales still felt it wise to excuse a police officer of body slamming a 16-year-old Indigenous boy by saying the officer was having a bad day.
It’s easy to look at this weekend’s protest – the enormous crowd, the loud and diverse voices, the supportive signs, the march forward – with a sense of optimism.
Many may have left the rally with a feeling of having helped to bend the long arc of the moral universe toward justice – whether through a sign, a raised a fist, or simply through attendance.
But attendance is only the most basic form of participation (though admittedly vastly more useful than a black square on Instagram).
Less than 12 months ago, some 8,000 people marched from Tarntanyangga to Parliament House for action on climate change – but lo, not 12 months later, Rio Tinto would blast away a 46,000-year-old piece of Aboriginal heritage to expand an iron ore mine.
Our protestations can’t end at the protest.
All the chanting, sign-waving and marching is worth nothing if all those in attendance don’t convert their anger and frustration into a direct challenge to the current government, at every level.
A common refrain on Saturday was that if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.
If, after coming home from the Black Lives Matter protest, you feel satisfied with your contribution, think again. Nothing has changed. There is much more work to be done.
Below, we’ve brought back a guide to finding your local state and federal representatives, and how to contact them, which we first published during the January bushfires.
Don’t stop shouting once the protest is over.
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL AND FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES
1. Find your electorate
2. Find your representative
To find contact details for your federal representative, search here by entering your federal electorate. Once you’ve found your pollie, click their name to see their official contact information.
Find your state-level representative here by selecting your electorate from the drop-down menu and clicking the search button. Same as above, once you’ve found your pollie, click their name for their official contact information.
If you’d like to direct your missive to the Prime Minister, see Scott Morrison’s official contact details here.
3. Have your say and make it count
As we’ve mentioned above, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the surface immense feelings of anger and frustration. In order for your letter to be considered, it is important to remember to be respectful in your correspondence and clear about what action you would like from your representative.
It’s also important to get your representative’s name and title right. You can see official guidelines for how to address politicians via written correspondence at this link.