Tag Archives: #blacklivesmatter

Meeting the moment 2021 #15

When love comes to town it arrives as a cloud of sound and muscle memory aides accompany the voices employed to bring forth harmonious blasts worthy of Phil Spector and any Hammond organ – that’s how I feel when a room is full of choristers swaying to the beat under the direction of the maestro Tony Backhouse. Within an hour or so, sixty voices are singing as one and each individual contribution offers a placeholder; we are each others scaffold.  The power of sound and the spaces of silence in between are all the reminder I need of the value of making room for both. 

It’s been a noisy week and at times a cacophony in public places where the ones who have loud hailers still seem to drown out those who are speaking truth to power.  A number of conversations I have been in this past week have been washed in colonisation, under written by the blood of martyred First Nations and laced with the deepest of griefs of loss of love, family, friends, land and sea.   I get to sing in a repurposed church hall with confidence, saturated in goodness while around five hundred Aboriginal people have died in custody in the last thirty years, and flags at half mast for the death of the 99 year old consort of the monarch, fly in their face. This is a tone deaf moment.

I am lost in curiosity about what might be possible if all the flags flew at half mast every time there was a death in custody, let’s start small though with the Aboriginal flag in our city square. (The square is named Victoria, and the city Adelaide, named after the consort of a monarch William IV, who on his death, having failed to produce a child the monarchy went to his niece Victoria.) Hope the Lord Mayor is reading this or perhaps someone could forward it to her?  Tarntanyangga is the place of the red kangaroo and is getting more currency over the years in its use in public signage. The space is now shaped in the Kaurna shield, and while one of the architects of the White Australia Policy Kingston hovers on the edge, I was overjoyed when the place was brimming at the seams during the #BlackLivesMatter rally in June 2020 and again in March 2021 for the #Justice4Women March knowing Kingston was not a fan of the original women’s suffrage bill. He was also the first federal member for Adelaide in the fledgling federation he helped to created.  I love these quirks of fate that turn up like an augmented fifth blues notes in an other wise predictable set of chords and scales. There are plenty of them all around us and soon as we start to tune in, its easy to hear them.

Perhaps there is potential for understanding white noise as random signals of colonialism, distracting us for seeing and hearing what it might be trying to cover up? In recording, white noise is often defined as a hissing sound, which also seems like an apt metaphor, the hissing of those who must be heard over the quiet and invisible vectors lying underneath.

Meeting these moments with a full and open heart, ears to hear all the voices and being able to make harmony from notes put together by a leader looking for the sweetest sounds is needed for these times. There is no choir director in the House, and few who are singing from the same hymn sheet of anyone seeing justice. There is a lot of static and reverb, and there are only a few in tune with what song the nation is singing right now. The sopranos have shown up, there are a few tenors and altos as well, looking forward to a few more basses joining in the chorus soon.

White noise hides

What must be heard

Tone deaf excuses

Blind eyes turned.

No longer silent.

No longer invisible.

Sobbing from graves.

Keening in corridors.

Cries from

Megaphones and microphones,

Enough is enough.

The choir is assembled,

As a jury in session

Waiting impatiently for the judge to arrive.

A leader surely on the horizon?

Chords are coming

Call and response

Ready to manifest

When the ballot box comes.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash

Dancing with Speeches #31 Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic Convention this week about her girls growing into intelligent women over their years in the White House, a place built by slaves. It was also one of the best speeches I have ever heard and so this week’s dance is a thank you back to Michelle.  Maya Angelou’s poems Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman just won’t leave me as I think of Michelle Obama and bow down saying thank you. 

Thank you for staying the course, for raising your girls into women. For showing us what love looks like in public office, for being decent, graceful, elegant, strong, kind. For holding hands, and for being able to laugh together, for lifting up and rising, rising, rising.

Thank you for not letting us see all the ordinary things and yet glimpsing the moments of the ordinary just enough to know 1600 Pennsylvania Ave was a home above the shop. Thank you for protecting your kids and showing day after day that #blacklivesmatter in education and health as well as on the streets.   Thanks for showing other parents the way and sharing your motto : when they go low, we go high. This is a motto of the campaign ahead for your friend Hillary and indeed all your fellow Americans who will be voting in the context of pain, hate speech and fear. As a Mum you were and continue to be your girl’s first role model.

Every Mum can look to you as a role model – showing your girls how to be a partner, a confidante, a smart person to keep your mate humble, a woman in every way, a broker for what’s strong not what’s wrong and most of all a voter. To think your eldest will be voting in her first election this November for a woman president, starting her voting pattern knowing that is possible.

Thanks Michelle for being a great woman and a great Mum, a great partner and friend for shaping our lives and conversations, for making us laugh and cry for rising, rising, rising. You are a woman of strength and we are all going to miss you in the White House and can’t wait to see you doing more in the global movements for equity, especially for women and girls education. Thank you for being  a phenomenal woman and raising two more.

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Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

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Dancing with Speeches #4 MLK

This week’s speech inspired by Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C, USA.

I am not from the US, I have no right to speak on their behalf, yet the #BlackLivesMatter campaign is ringing in my ears and on my screens it is shaking me up. It is helping me reconnect with my activism. It is sending a message home to my core. #BlackLivesMatter is rebuilding the black liberation movement in the USA and around the world.    is an affirmation and embrace of the resistance and resilience of Black people, founded by

Where we had Charlie Perkins in Australia riding in the freedom run we now have Luke Pearson making strides in the media with IndigenousX, where we had Kath Walker claim her space as poet and her name as Oodgeroo Noonuccal, we have Dr Antia Heiss asking us Am I Black Enough for You? The strains of Yothu Yindi dancing our way into our hearts with Treaty is still part of the soundtrack for action. Dr Gregory Phillips is healing us all as we find the steps towards healing the deepest wounds of the lies of the past and what we need to do to save ourselves and our planet. So I want to stand still and bow to all those leaders and say thank you for teaching me, a white woman, and now taught, my job is to stand in solidarity, to speak up and to invoke the call #blacklivesmatter.

The great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, said he refused to believe the bank of justice is bankrupt. As a non black person I have the responsibility to make deposits into this bank, and even more responsibility to not make withdrawals with my own racism. I need to make deposits to bring equity and make this bank balance grow with interest! My acts should be a sign for others to follow.

There is urgency today as real as it was in the 60s. Children are dying in the streets, mothers are losing their babies, communities are losing their men, we are all losing the talents and gifts of those who fall to drugs, alcohol, violence and preventable diseases. In MLK’s words, the place for the struggle is on the “highest plane of dignity and discipline” and “rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force”.

How do you bring your soul force to the liberation movement? Just like the warrior before battle prepares with exercise and study of the plan, gets to know the enemy and readiness themselves for being wounded and even potentially death. The soul force needs to be fostered to grow strong. The preparation, the plan, the readiness to be knocked down and to get up again is true for all of those who take the nonviolent path. For what is the antonym of warrior? Is it peacemaker? Is it civilian? Is it liberator? Or is it that warriors of the liberation movement are nonviolent activists who recognize the battle fields of policy, of programs, on the streets, in the supermarkets, in the carriages of the trains? The war on equity is everywhere and we are all bound up in it. I live on land that was stolen. I make my home in a landscape where I don’t know its language. I take colonization as a given.

Just as MLK called for the sounds of freedom to be heard from every mountain top, I take tentative steps to build my soul force from the trills and squawks of the birds offering sounds of freedom to be ringing out across this country. The tweets come in new forms and are accompanied with a hashtag #blacklivesmatter and the work to get to that mountain top ‘ain’t done yet!

We are the ones who will make the rough paths smooth, the crooked ways straight and the valleys exalted. The soul force pays attention to our own rough paths, our own crooked ways and our own valleys of despair, darkness and inequity and rises up to the mountain top and bring others with us so we can all get to that mountain top together and leave no one behind. When we stand on that mountain top and see the “oasis of freedom and justice” we will have dealt with sweltering heat of injustice and oppression. In this dreaming we will understand we are owned by Mother Earth and the mountain is holding us up and learnt this from the ones who knew this truth first.

It is then, and only then and because #blacklivesmatter, we will all be truly free, free at last and be able to sing as one voice Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! 

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