This week is our second ‘perspective’ (or case study) week, bringing together some of the themes discussed in weeks 1-4 by zoning in on Indigenous Resistance in ‘Australia’, and specifically the Aboriginal Black Power Movement and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
The purpose of perspective weeks (like this week and last week on Global health Inequities) is to bridge theory/history and practice. Taking a look at Indigenous resistance helps us make sense of what have been learning so far, as well as protecting forward to other weeks in the semester.
In Week 1, we looked at the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence and its theorisation of politics and ‘war without bloodshed’, As we shall see urban Aboriginal movements in the 1960s-70s were deeply inspired by the BPP. Some of the similarities as well as the points of difference will be explored.
In Week 2, the workings of the capitalist system were highlighted. The lecture ended with the example of the Pilbara Aboriginal Pastoral Workers’ Strike of 1946. This is an important example of Indigenous Resistance. It also connects to the aims of the Black power movement to see the economic exploitation of Black people as central to ongoing discrimination.
In Week 3, we looked at coloniality. The lands known as Australia are still colonised, so the struggles of Indigenous people are also struggles for decolonisation. That is why in addition to protesting police brutality and exploitation, sovereignty and land rights are key to the Aboriginal struggle.
In Week 4, we looked at Global Health Inequities. I mentioned the Race in Society web series in which Chris Lemoh participated. The series highlighted the work of the Aboriginal Community Controlled health Organisations. These organisations grew out of the Black power movements of the 1970s that, inspired by the BPP in the US, developed health clinics for Aboriginal people in the capital cities.
So, this is a practical example of how one of the principles of Black power politics in Australia – self-determination – had a positive impact on one crucial area – health. Indigenous people are still faced with systemic discrimination in healthcare and the community controlled organisations work to protect the health of Aboriginal communities.