The greatest failing of the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia, and a complete contradiction to their cause, is that it ignores the lives taken at the hands of other black people. It is also driven by the false claim that black deaths in custody are a result of systemic racism by allegedly murderous white police.
The fact remains for Aboriginal Australians, as it does for African-Americans, that far more black lives are taken by other black people than by white people, or by white police.
While this is an inconvenient truth for the Black Lives Matter movement it is a fact we must confront if we are to improve the lives of Aboriginal Australians in Australia. Unfortunately such movements favour emotional rhetoric over fact.
Of the 400-plus Aboriginal deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody report in 1991, almost half in police custody were accidental, mostly as a result of vehicle accident injuries, followed by natural causes and self-inflicted trauma.
For deaths in prison custody after being sentenced, most were due to natural causes, followed by suicide and other self-inflicted causes due to drugs and alcohol.
From 1989–2012, the Australian Institute of Criminology reports there were 1,096 homicide incidents involving at least one Indigenous person. There were 951 Aboriginal victims of homicide, more than double the 437 deaths that Black Lives Matter protestors are solely concerned with. Of the 951 Indigenous homicide victims, 765 were killed by an Indigenous offender.
Of the 7,599 Australian homicide offenders (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) over that time, 16 per cent – or 1,234 – were Indigenous, yet we are only 3 per cent of the Australian population.
The facts are clear. Yet Black Lives Matter, some media and some of our country’s leaders ignore these fundamental truths. This only perpetuates the ongoing carnage and maintains the high rates of Indigenous incarceration.
It’s time for some honesty in order to confront these uncomfortable truths.