The death of African American man George Floyd, while being arrested by Minneapolis police, has sent shockwaves around the world. The horrific footage of his killing has resulted in protests across the US and have caused more of us to speak up about the injustices and abuse our Māori, Pacific Island, migrant, or any person of colour (POC) endure every single day in our country.
Whether you realise it or not, New Zealand is not immune to shocking, systematic racism—heck, our own Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon has gone on the record to say NZ has a problem with racism.
Violence against indigenous and people of colour isn’t a foreign experience in New Zealand, and did you know that Pacific Islanders are three times more likely than Pākeha to be victims of police violence? Māori are almost eight times more likely. There's been uproar over the recent armed police trials in predominantly Māori communities. "Between 2009-2019, two-thirds of all people shot by New Zealand Police were Māori or Pasifika" the Herald reported just days ago.
In the USA and our own backyard, many have gotten a grip and realised that it’s no longer enough to be “not racist”. It’s time to wake up and stop being complacent. Yes, it might be a little uncomfortable for you to unpack your privilege and speak up, but you know what’s worse? Becoming a victim of violence because of your identity or the colour of your skin.
Here at Urban List, we don’t claim to be experts, we just want to use our voice as a media outlet to show our support and because we’re being completely transparent here—we too have a lot to learn. So, let’s educate ourselves together not because it’s trending on your socials, but because the lives of people of colour depend on it.
Acknowledge The Facts
We’re going to cut to the chase and spit some home truths because we think the first step in learning, is acknowledging the facts. In the past decade, 66% of people shot by police were made up of either Māori or Pacific descent. Māori make up 15% of New Zealand’s population, yet according to Corrections equate for over fifty percent of the prison population. Even more harrowing, Wahine Māori are the most incarcerated indigenous group of women in the entire world. If you’re feeling a bit sick in your stomach right now, that’s ok—hopefully hearing these facts will fuel your desire to flip the script.
For some, you’ve come to the realisation that the system is crook. Lots are taking to social media valiantly, but without the tools to articulate what needs to be said, and how best to say it. So where do you go from here? Many are turning to their black and brown and indigenous friends for guidance. Although you might have the best of intentions or see it as a shortcut to getting “woke”, it isn’t the responsibility of indigenous, black, brown or any POC to educate you. For far too long, they’ve been talking and no one has been listening. Our brothers and sisters are directing their energy towards processing their emotions, grief and trauma, whilst mobilising to change the world. It’s up to you support them. The most simplest way to do this is do your own research. Get clued up on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Read about Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Go beyond the facts and figures in this article. Learn about cultural appropriation. Engage with Arms Down. Read, watch, get informed about racism and listen to the minorities in your communities. Listen more than you speak.
Get reading, watching, listening. This is by no means the “how to tackle racism” list below, but we’ve gotta start somewhere. Use your own beautiful brains to search for what’s good and helpful, and then pass them on to your friends. Some books we’ve seen recommended are Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Edo-Lodge or Forced Out by Kevin Maxwell, listen to this podcast He Kakano Ahau about Urban Māori living in the city, or listen/watch to The Citizen’s Handbook for a comedic yet important history lesson.
A really easy way to show your support? Get hyper local and purchase from Indigenous-owned businesses. There’s about a 1,000 we could shout out but some of our absolute faves include Curionoir, Coco’s Cantina, Huia Books, Maramataka Māori. Also check out He Waka Eke Noa, which is a network for Māori and Pacific-owned businesses around the country. The Realness (you can check out our interview with Damaris Coulter of The Realness for International Women’s Day earlier this year) has also launched an indigenous feature which highlights Māori owned and operated food businesses in Aotearoa.
Remember To First Listen, Then Pay It Forward
This one should be simple enough. Use all of the above resources and absorb all you can. Listen to what Māori, Pacific, black, brown people have to say. Soak it up and spread it to your friends and family. Conversations with family members around race can be tough, no one is denying that. But the joke about your racist uncle throwing a slur here and there at Christmas is absolutely done. It’s not about ‘trying’ anymore, it’s about actively doing.
We welcome anyone who would like to start a thoughtful conversation or add to these resources to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: Tim Mossholder