This is a sample newsletter I sent out to my community in September 2020 to alert them to John Pat Day:
today is John Pat day, an anniversary that helps us remember Australia's deaths in custody which has become even more important since the Black Lives Matter movement.
And that's why you should know a little around that topic.
Step 1: John Pat was just 16 years old when he got involved in a fight outside a pub in 1983 in Roebourne, northern Western Australia. Police got involved and they assaulted John. A few hours later he died in his cell. Please read the full story
Step 2: Now that you know John's story you can listen to a song Archie Roach wrote about him. He published it on his album Journey in 2007. Listen to the song on YouTube
Step 3: (optional) If you have an hour to spare, watch ABC's documentary Black Death (in Custody). It's an investigation of the deaths of John Pat and three other Aboriginal men in police custody in Western Australia. You can watch it at the ABC.
Step 4: Now that you know a little about the background, head over to The Guardian and find out the current number of deaths in custody and the trend over the last few years. Search for "Dhu" to find out what can happen if you don't pay your fines, live in WA and are Aboriginal. The Guardian: Deaths Inside
Step 5: Do something. I'm currently reading the book Practical Reconciliation by Aunty Munya Andrews and she closes each chapter with an activity. I like to do that too. Think of ways to share what you've learned – text, poem, photo, sketch? Light a candle tonight for all the souls who died behind bars. Or sign a petition, for example Makayla's, whose brother died in prison, or that of GetUp.
We all need to know about this. Remember the Uluru Statement From the Heart? It was written for us, the ordinary Australians, and encourages us to learn our Aboriginal history. John Pat and his more than 400 fellow souls are part of the needle that still hurts the flesh of Aboriginal people. That is because not much has changed since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (which was when?).
Awakening to our history is the first step. Awareness of what happened the second. The last step, then, is Activity.
Over to you!