Actor Meyne Wyatt has been applauded after delivering a rousing speech calling for an end to racial inequality that’s “killing” Indigenous people in Australia.
The former Neighbours star ended the special Q&A episode focusing on racism and Indigenous deaths in custody by addressing the audience at home with a powerful monologue calling for an end to silence on racism.
The show aired as the Black Lives Matter movement grips Australia, with thousands attending protest all around the nation on the weekend.
Wyatt delivered an emotional response after host Hamish MacDonald asked fellow panelist actress Nakkiah Lui how she responds to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging Australians not to “import” issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and said Australia is a “wonderful country we live in”.
“It’s been continuous since Captain Cook landed on these shores. It’s still happening. It’s a denial of our existence,” Wyatt said.
“It hasn’t been an issue that’s ever been raised... it’s a denial of what’s ever been happening right now. These institutions are killing us and it’s just a continuation, the whole time since 1770.”
In the wake of protests across Australia this weekend, Wyatt said now was a time for action.
“What are we going to do about it? We’re demanding. We’re demanding justice. And those protests in America – they’re not protests, they’re demanding it.
“There are riots and people are talking about order. Who cares about order if there’s no justice? We want justice.
“I’m sick of talking about being in order – you know what? It doesn’t work. Being peaceful – peaceful protests – don’t work. You’re never saved. You’re never happy for what we do.
“I’ve got to sit here and be the nice guy. I don’t want to be the nice guy no more. I’m sick of it. Everyone sits there and listens to you be this animal. I don’t want to be an animal no more.”
Lui broke out in applause for Wyatt after his powerful response, and was joined by the studio audience.
She labelled Mr Morrison’s comments were “incredibly ignorant” and “tone deaf”.
They were joined on the show by lawyer Nyadol Nyuon, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg and Leetona Dungay, the mother of Indigenous man David Dungay who died in Long Bay jail in Sydney allegedly being held down by correctional officers.
His last words were “I can’t breathe” – the same final utterance of George Floyd, whose death while being pinned down at the neck by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25 sparked worldwide protests.
She called for support in her campaign for justice over her son’s death.
"My son, David Junior, was killed in very similar circumstances. He was pushed down into the ground by heavy officers,” she said.
"David cried out 'I can't breathe' many times in the space of his last nine minutes… we know we have a long fight ahead to get justice so I am asking the panel will you join us to demand charges are laid on the people responsible for my son's death?"
Her son’s death is one of 434 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1991.
‘Silence is violence’
To end the show, Wyatt stood alone, staring directly into the camera, before delivering an emotionally-charged monologue from his play, City of Gold.
He detailed his own plight and that of Indigenous people living in Australia, highlighting the prejudice and racism they deal with on a daily basis.
“I'm always gonna be your black friend, aren't I? That's all anybody ever sees,” he began.
“I'm never just an actor. I'm an Indigenous actor. I love reppin', but I don't hear old Joe Bloggs being called a white Anglo-Saxon actor.
“I'm always in the black show, the black play. I'm always the angry one, the tracker, the drinker, the thief.”
The monologue called for an end to white privilege, where only “exceptional” Indigenous people currently have a place in modern society.
“I mess up, I'm done. There's no path back for me. There's no road to redemption.”
It then called for Indigenous people to have a voice in Australia, highlighting the case of AFL star Adam Goodes who he says was shut down for fighting racism.
“At least Adam danced and they still pissed and moaned. But it's not about that one time, it's about all those times.
“And seeing us as animals, that s**t needs to stop. Black deaths in custody, that s**t needs to stop.
“I want to be what you want me to be. I want to be what I want to be. Never trade your authenticity for approval.
“Be crazy, take a risk, be different, offend your family. Call them out. Silence is violence. Complacency is complicity.
“I don't want to be quiet. I don't want to be humble. I don't want to sit down."
Social media praise for show’s participants
Following the episode, Twitter was awash with praise for Wyatt and Lui for their passionate yet pertinent responses on the show.
Wyatt was singled out for his “incredible” monologue, while Ms Dungay was hailed for her courageousness.
“Powerful monologue... strong, enriching, empowering, graphic and sadly one that reflects something all to real with how we view and treat Indigenous Australians,” one user said.
“A powerful and emotional #QandA all should watch and engage with,” another wrote.
See that pain and anger simmering beneath the surface of these Mob on #qanda tonight? That doesn’t get left at the studio door. That no good feeling follows you around day, night, everywhere. Racism, white supremacy is an insidious diesease that must be driven out of our society.— Shari L Sebbens (@sharileesebbo) June 8, 2020
watching the courageous Leetona Dungay on #qanda - speaking of the similarities between her son David Dungay jnr's death to George Floyd.— Amy McQuire (@amymcquire) June 8, 2020
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