Nakkiah Lui issues visceral call to action: “Be angry for us. Stand with us.”

‘Be angry for us. Stand with us. Protest with us.’ Nakkiah Lui issues visceral call to action

"These people aren't just numbers - they have names. I don't want to live in a country where names become numbers. I just don't," Nakkiah Lui said.
Nakkiah Lui

This article contains the names of Indigenous people who have passed away.

Nakkiah Lui is no stranger to calling out racism, systemic injustice and the perpetual mistreatment of First Nations people in this country.

The Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander playwright, activist, writer and actor frequently takes to social media to call out injustices. On Tuesday, following the worldwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Lui took to Twitter to highlight the police brutality in this country.

“Over 424 Aboriginal people have lost theirs lives since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. That’s 14 people murdered a year. If a white person was murdered every month for 24 years by the same group, we’d call them terrorists. You call it Australia.”

Later that night she appeared on Channel Ten’s The Project making a vehement appeal for Australians to pay attention to police injustice and racism against Indigenous and Aboriginal people in our own country.

“These people aren’t just numbers,” Lui said later in the segment, referring to her tweet. “They have names. David Dungay, Tanya Day. And they are loved – they are still loved.”

“So what I want to say is just, the people who are watching, think about your loved ones. What would you do if they died begging for help? What would you do if they died with a knee on their neck?” she said. 

“How angry would you be? What I’m saying is be angry for us. Stand with us. Protest with us, because we need you.

“There was never no wonderful Australia, but what we can do is create hope by creating a better world for each other… I don’t want to live in a country where names become numbers. I just don’t.”

When The Project’s co-host Waleed Aly asked Lui if she had hope, she responded by saying, “You create hope”.

“It’s important to remember that these conversations aren’t hopeless. They’re hard conversations. They’re uncomfortable. But they’re important and they’re not hopeless. Because the only way that we can listen, learn and act to create a better future is by talking about the tough things.”

Lui’s plays have been a staple for a few years at the Sydney Theatre Company, where her plays directly interrogate race, gender and Australia’s colonial history. How to Rule The World satirised Australian politics and featured a racially diverse cast in central roles. Black is the New White interrogated class, politics, race and gender through the narrative lens of a romantic comedy.

Lui is a writer for the ABC’s “Black Comedy”,a sharp and viscerally comic exploration into what it means to be black in contemporary Australia, and has been airing since 2014.

She and fellow Indigenous actor Miranda Tapsell starred in an episode of the ABC’s Get Krack!n last year, where they called out the whiteness of the country’s televised commercial morning shows, which Lui co-wrote.

Last November, Nakkiah Lui was left “shaking” and expressed her anguish over a racist incident in a shopping centre in the west of Sydney. “I’m shaking right now,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m at the shopping centre waiting to buy some bread with my mum, an Indian server and next to a Sudanese lady.  An old White lady walks past and says ‘Spots the Aussie’.”

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