“Black lives matter.” Utter this in front of any Pakistani and the normal reaction would be, “What happened to the millions of lives dying all over the world, the Syria that the world has turned its back on, the drone victims in Pakistani KPK region and the hundreds of thousands of suicide bombing victims in numerous This World Countries?” And then be scoffed at your “Gora” leanings.

Fair enough. I concede some, if not all these points. But nothing, and I mean nothing would stop me from seeing Alicia Garza, the American activist who co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement.

Formed in July 2013, this movement has gained more resonance, more profound impact and more poignancy as America seems to be caught up in this wave of intolerance, a vicious cycle which refuses to end. As we woke up on Sunday, we read about the fatal shootings of an African American in Charlotte and in Tulsa Oklahoma. For all the “It was a real threat, not the colour of their skin,” there is a reality starker, more surreal, at times gaining nightmarish proportions.

“The Festival of Dangerous Ideas” is held yearly in Sydney, where “radical” ideas and thoughts come together. But here is the thing; these radical thoughts NEED to be part of the every day conversation, in a world which is being wronged by people and leaders in ways we are barely coming to terms with.

I booked tickets for these events, most if not all were already sold out. The winter in Sydney has abated to a more seasonal, albeit colder spring. In a city, which I find as isolating and lonely as I did the first week I lived here, this seemed something right up my alley.

I had the pleasure and the privilege to be blown away by Alicia Garza and Stan Grant Jr., an Australian journalist of aboriginal descent as well as correspondent for Sky News.

Alicia’s poise, her significant dignity, her calling out clearly racist behaviours, had many of the white folk in the audience squirming, and for good reason. Having been on the first hand receiving end of the joys of not being “native English” enough while living and working abroad, with parents who would be openly racist, interviewers who would reject me on the basis of where I was from, hearing someone say it openly, calling out “white privilege” which is perceived as their birth right, was a rarity.

She was clear that the obsession with “where your passport was from” and the African-American issues were two separate issues and that they could help each other.

I have spent a good part of my adult life, ranting, protesting against white privilege, against the toss of the coin where my passport perceives my identity, where my family pleads with me to reconsider and stay in Australia “for the passport”, and “you will never suffer these indignities again”. In the end it is basically a four-year sentence away from people in Pakistan who are my life.

A four-year exile. For a passport. For reinventing myself. To maybe spare the indignity I have endured at the hands of so many in the UAE where I once lived. The white privilege all mostly white westerners see, but turn a blind eye to. Because why not? Why should they stand up for me, a nobody, which might upset their status quo, in a land where they are worshipped for their skin colour and where I am there to serve, not be their equal? Of course not, that is for their own “equal right-esque” countries.

This woman’s dignity, her words reverberated with me. The eloquence with which she smashed myths, her demeanour. Black lives matter. They will always matter. Not words, actions.

I also have special respect for Stan Grant, who said, more than 60,000 people have either died or been affected by terrorism in Pakistan, but where is the news for that? 10 die in Europe and flags go half-mast.

A European life is clearly more important than a Pakistani life?

Sitting in row W, right at the very back of Sydney Opera House’s largest performance space, in the last two rows I shouted, “Thank you, thank you! It’s about time!” And clapped in sheer joy for an acceptance long overdue. He heard me and later on said “Clearly we have a global village here, a Pakistani!”

Privilege needs to end. Any privilege needs to end. That fact is a reality people chose to ignore. But not for very long, as they will discover at their own peril.

How do you define dignity? How do you define lives mattering? What do you do when the world turns its back on you? A couple of hundred or million Facebook shares till the next new thing comes along? That is a question I ask myself every day in Sydney.

P.S. On a side note, Sydney is, well, Sydney. I might have discovered the best gelato place here, which I ration out every 9-11 days. Crossfit is going better than expected. But the heartbreak never leaves, and the jagged pieces I use to pick myself up, still bleed all over the “proverbial couch. And then when words fail, the lull of not writing. Next week might be from Canberra, where the yearly Tulip Festival is in full bloom!