Rapper, comedy writer and actor Briggs has a very simple reason for coming back to Canberra to mark Reconciliation Day. “It was great fun last time, and that’s why I do anything. I’m a very simple kind of individual with simple needs. Last time, we did some really cool things and I wanted to do it again.”
Briggs is a big believer in mixing up the fun stuff and the major issues. “I try to create moments and just live in them on stage. As blackfellas, anything we do has to be political but it’s not mutually exclusive to having a good time. Public Enemy and NWA taught us we can do both.”
And the rapper is really serious about the need to get reconciliation moving in this country, in whatever way we can make it happen.
“I think that reconciliation has to be led top down. If our leaders at the top aren’t honestly and truthfully acknowledging blackfellas and disadvantage, then what hope do the rest of us have? The attitudes from our leadership say a lot about the country.
“But having said that, there’s value in every conversation and every platform if we can put it to good use. You can see that discussion starting to happen everywhere, in councils like Moreland where I am, in Fremantle and Darebin where local government has taken a stand on Australia Day, for example.”
“Detractors will say you’re just dividing the country, but it is divided, that’s just a fact. If you don’t acknowledge that the foundation is busted then the house will eventually collapse. If it needs re-stumping then you acknowledge it and re-stump the house.”
Briggs is part of rap duo A.B Original, whose Australia Day protest song January 26 made the top 20 of Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2017.
The ACT will mark Reconciliation Day for the second year, commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 referendum to include Aboriginal people in the census. We are the first and only jurisdiction to do so, after replacing Family and Community Day on the public holiday calendar.
Briggs, Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project and Alice Skye will be at the Canberra Theatre on May 26. Midnight Oil will also be in Canberra on Reconciliation Day and the ACT will hold a major free event at Glebe Park on the public holiday, May 27.
Reconciliation in the Park includes free performances, workshops and storytelling. Reflecting the National Reconciliation Week 2019 theme ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together With Courage’, the event’s bigger purpose is to encourage Canberrans to engage in meaningful conversations to develop a deeper understanding of our national story and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
It’s an opportunity to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and explore how we can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
For Briggs, hard work is also good work to make a difference. “If you say there is a gap between us, then you have to acknowledge the disadvantage to address it. That’s what it takes to close the gap. It’s not about separating people, it’s about us all working together to make things right. This is the greatest country on earth, and it’s time we started acting that way.”
The Reconciliation Day Eve concert will take place at the Canberra Theatre Centre on Sunday, 26 May at 6:30 pm. Click here for tickets.
Win a double pass to the Reconciliation Day Eve concert on Sunday 26th May 2019.
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