In what will no doubt set the tone for this coming Australia Day, a powerful speech by an Indigenous Australian Stan Grant has people spontaneously applauding in their homes and in office cubicles everywhere.
Watching Stan Grant's speech… Wow… Powerful stuff… pic.twitter.com/b3p0ixs7ra
— 5/6 Shae (@5_6_Shae) February 16, 2016
In what veteran Aussie journalist Mike Carlton predicted will be Australia’s Martin Luther King moment, Wiradjuri man and well-known television journalist Stan Grant unpacked the racial issues that Australia faces if it is ever to be a truly free nation.
In one particularly potent moment, Stan Grant made mention of the fact that due to his Indigenous blood, in the year of his birth, he was not counted in the census a human in Australia.
“In 1963 when I was born, I was counted among the flora and fauna, not among the citizens of this country.”
With breathtaking clarity and passion, Stan Grant spoke personally of his experience of being an indigenous man in Australia and the jaw-dropping facts of Stan Grant’s family’s past, the hell they have endured, and the deliberate and systemic government effort, a “war of extermination”, on the Indigenous people of Australia.
— Aussie Gossip (@Aussie_Gossip) February 2, 2016
Stan Grant was answering to the positive of “Racism is Destroying the Australian Dream”. The debate was held in October last year, but the video was only released online on Friday, quickly trending on Twitter.
Basing the speech on the opening line of the Australian national anthem “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free,” Stan Grant is quoted in the Guardian destroying the notion that all Australians are free.
“My people die young in this country. We die 10 years younger than the average Australian, and we are far from free. We are fewer than three percent of the Australian population and yet we are 25 percent – one quarter – of those Australians locked up in our prisons. And if you’re a juvenile it is worse, it is 50 percent. An Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school.”
Stan Grant uses the opening line – “I love a sunburned country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges” – from the famous Dorothea Mackellar poem, My Country, to graphically illustrate the landscape of Australia’s brutal past.
“It reminds me that my people were killed on those plains. We were shot on those plains, diseases ravaged us on those plains. Our rights were extinguished because we were not here according to British law, and when British people looked at us, they saw something subhuman. We were fly-blown, Stone-Age savages, and that was the language that was used. Captain Arthur Phillip, a man of enlightenment… was sending out raiding parties with the instruction ‘bring back the severed heads of the black trouble-makers’.”
“By 1901 when we became a nation, we were nowhere, we were not in the constitution. Save for race provisions which allowed for laws to be made which would take our children that would invade our privacy, that would tell us who we could marry and where we could live. The Australian dream.”
Stan goes on to detail extraordinary injustices to his people, including the jailing of Grant’s family members for talking to each other in their own language.
Grant puts to rest the idea that his success is indicative of the health of the Australian dream.
“I have succeeded in spite of the Australian dream, and not because of it… You might hear tonight, ‘But you have white blood in you’, but if the white blood in me was here tonight, my grandmother, she would tell you of how she was turned away from a hospital giving birth to her first child because she was giving birth to the child of a black person.”
In a rousing finish, Stan Grant ends with hope in his heart that he will be able to one day sing “Australians all let us rejoice” because of those non-indigenous Australians who are “better than that” and stand with Grant to end racism in Australia.
Reaction to Stan Grant’s speech has been resoundingly positive.
— Adam Mooney (@AdamMooney7) January 24, 2016
— Greg Twemlow (@gregtwem) January 24, 2016
Check out Stan Grant’s pivotal nation-changing moment here.
[Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images]