Blakboi joins The Long Walk – 25 May
Welcome peeps. Today I find myself in the Australian state of Victoria. It’s a beautiful sunny day down here in Melbourne (oh no, it just got cloudy) and I am sitting in the middle of Federation Square (it just started raining). “Fed square” as its known to the local folk is the ultimate meeting place full of colour, people and exciting things to do, smack bang in the middle of Melbourne city (it just got sunny again).
Art galleries, cafes, restaurants, live music, cars, people, trams , big tellies, art installations and more fill this active city.
Today I find myself standing here on Wurundjeri land along the Yarra River. I am not alone today, in fact next to me are hundreds of people.
We are all here to support recognition and reconciliation alongside Essondon Football Club legend Michael Long. For those of you who dont know Michael, he is a former AFL player and an outspoken critic of racism in sport. Long has became a spokesman for Indigenous Australians and a leader for Indigenous people.
THE LONG WALK – Federation Square Party.
The Long Walk is today and the vibe in the city is electric…
Looking to my left is a large collection of primary school aged children. In a large group they play and make jokes, continuously pushing the boundaries of their teachers and carers. To my right, a mob of Indigenous surfers sit in a circle and talk of the sea. These guys are in Melbourne for the Australian Indigenous Surf Titles at Bells Beach. Together these guys and girls represent the salt water dreaming and collectively spread the art of surfing with their community and the world.
On stage local and interstate (ab)Orignal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and artist are performing. The music is bouncing out of the speakers at high volume and everyone seems to be having a good time. I notice people of all races, here together, enjoying the music, the venue and the energy. I also notice that there is an even number of young and old, all together, enjoying the same things, supporting the same ideals.
A mad afternoon of music is puncuated by the setting sun…
THE LONG WALK to The MCG.
We walked as a large and vocal group along the river of Melbourne. Usually this would attract attention from the Police but on this special day they are on our side, they are here to assist us and make sure our journey is effortless and trouble free.
Through the city we march. Cheering and singing as we walk, it feels more like a party then a protest or demonstration. As we travel past a group of on lookers I notice they are looking intentively and pointing at us. I see the reactions of many different people, some people point, some laugh, others look on with a look of bewilderment and some look like they are snarling. The majority though appear to be supportrive. Red, black and yellow flags wave the sky.
THE LONG WALK – onto the MCG.
Walking onto the MCG or Melbourne Cricket Ground is a radical experience.
Once you’ve entered the stadium you are led down 5 flights of stairs. You then walk through a large loading dock. This area is big enough to drive a semi trailer through comfortably. After a five minute walk we come to the opening to the ground. I can see only a little bit of the grandstand and it looks huge. The bright lights make evrthing look like day.
After a short wait, we walk onto the ground…
The grass is wet and longer then I thought it would be, the grandstand much larger. All around me I see faces and bodies. 90000 people actually. People clutching hot dogs and drinks in plastic cups raise them with a yell as the whole crowd screams and boo’s. The sound is deafening as 90000 screaming fans chant and sway. Suddenly the lights go down and the pre-show begins. Archie Roach, Neil Murray, Christine Anu and the Street Warriors go off with the help of an amazing lightshow. The smell is electric, a simple mixture of sweat, beer, fast food and B.O. fills the air as my nostrils flex. The chill in the air is enough to take ur breathe away.
Michael Long has done great things in his football career – but none more important than this. The Long Walk brings (ab)Orginal and Torres Strait Islander people together to celebrate culture and survival. People from all walks of life come together from all corners of this great continent to show the world that our mob can achieve anything and that sometimes we’re even better then the rest.