When the Black Lives Matter protests swept the world earlier this year, Dr Summer May Finlay was front and centre sharing her views on the movement. Yet the Yorta Yorta woman has always had a strong voice on the needs and rights of First Nations People.
“No more boomerang
No more spear;
Now all civilized –
Colour bar and beer.”
This is the poem that 12-year-old Summer May Finlay recited at a 1993 eisteddfod in Sydney. In front of a sea of white faces, there stood an Aboriginal girl, proudly sharing her culture.
The opening lines of No More Boomerang, by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, speak about the assimilation of Aboriginal people. The theme permeates the remainder of the 1964 poem. It is as relevant today as it was back then.
“So here I am, 12, in Sydney at a drama eisteddfod which is predominantly white, a lot of private school students, performing a very Aboriginal piece,” Dr Finlay says with a laugh as she tells the story. “I’ve always had a voice.”
It’s a voice that more and more people, including media, are seeking out when they want a straightforward and shoot-from-the-hip perspective on issues from which many shy away.
In June, as Black Lives Matter protests swept the world, people started posting black tiles on their social media feeds to protest against racial inequality. Channel 10’s The Project sought Dr Finlay’s perspective on what had become known as #blackouttuesday – the hosts asked her if posting a black tile was enough.
“If that’s all they’re doing it really is demonstrating their ongoing ignorance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, and other issues in this country, around people of colour,” she replied at the time.
Dr Finlay went on to tell hosts Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly that too many people are reaching a point of wilful ignorance when it comes to supporting Aboriginal issues.
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