The Woman comes forward to tell a story about her twenty-one-year-old brother. One night, she says, he and his friends are walking along a public mall, drunk. One of the brother’s friends is wanted in connection with a crime, and soon police descend on the group to take the young man away. The Woman’s brother, who is not the smartest, but who has an intense sense of justice, protests against the arrest by pushing the police officer, who is a young woman. The female cop pushes the Woman’s brother to the ground. He is later charged with assault and obstructing justice.
By relaying the story of her brother’s struggles with the law shortly after relaying Daniel Yocke’s fatal experience with police brutality, the Woman shows how cycles of fear, violence, and uncertainty reverberate throughout her community. She tries to convey the depth of the fear she feels when she considers that her brother could, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, become yet another casualty of fatal colonialist violence.
For most people, the Woman explains, such a charge wouldn’t be a serious thing—nor would the $250 fine accompanying it or the two-month probation period. Her brother, though, feels such intense shame about the arrest and its consequences that he becomes depressed. He spends all his time at home, loses his job, and can’t pay his fine. He goes to court once again for evading the fine, and, because he can’t get government assistance, he starts accepting money from his parents, which makes him even more ashamed. The brother begins going out and getting drunk more—he breaks his probation and incurs another fine. This, the Woman says, his how “the cycle” starts.
As the Woman talks about the fallout of her brother’s run-in with the law, she communicates to the audience how insidious cycles of crime, poverty, depression, and substance abuse weave their ways into indigenous communities. The Woman knows that she and her family have only limited recourse against the structural racism and injustice that is ingrained into larger Australian society—getting caught in cycles like these is dangerous for anyone, but especially so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Woman declares that, for her people, no matter how clean, tidy, or compliant they are, no matter how well they speak the language of their oppressors or how promptly they pay their bills or how hard they work at their jobs or how friendly they are, the fact that they are black will never change. Her brother, she says, has another court date in two weeks—no one knows what will happen to him in the end.
The Woman knows that the deck is stacked against her, her family, and her people in general. She has little faith in the racist systems to which they are beholden. In this moment, she can’t muster any resistance, detachment, or real hope—all she feels is fear and disappointment.