Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Anonymous" comments now gone

Sorry all, I have removed the ability to comment on this blog using the "Anonymous" setting. I was not going to do this but finally decided to because:

1. I AM SICK TO DEATH OF SPAM! There are only so many spambots selling fake tan salons, plastic surgery posting on here that a ranting black feminist can deal with. Seriously, it's amazing the rabble a feminist blog can attract. So they are now being locked out for my sanity. 

2. I did ask people that if they used this setting that they also took the time to write a handle. A good portion of people don't do this despite my requests. I therefore recommend that people get a google account or similar to post. 

Apologies for any inconvenience caused. I still appreciate your comments and I hope they continue to come in.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stuff "Miss NAIDOC". Bring on the first annual "Ms NAIDOC"!

It's no secret that the first blogpost of mine that was picked up and published by Daily Life was an article criticising the Miss NAIDOC pageants, and indeed all beauty pageants for young Aboriginal women. Two years on, I still don't like them surprisingly. What's more, they appear to have flourished. And yes, they are all about "empowerment" and community and leadership according to their websites and official marketing stuff. Which is great, but it's still a bunch of young women trotted out in dresses, heels and bikinis whilst alternately performing dance routines and receiving positive reinforcement regarding their looks above all else. I haven't been won over and I still prefer that community service and leadership development opportunities happened for young women apart from the world of beauty. Because we are so much more than that!

So here's what I propose: For the month of July, which is when NAIDOC falls, this lowly blog becomes the home of the "Ms NAIDOC pageant". This will be a feminist pageant celebrating our amazing black women in their actual glory. I want to publish pictures and blurbs of some amazing Aboriginal women on this page, and depending on how many entrants I get, I will run the stories anywhere between every day of NAIDOC to every day of July. So I want anywhere between 10-31 entrants here. The following guidelines apply:

1. Looks are not a factor in the Ms NAIDOC pageant. Photos can be anything from random and ridiculous to stately. As this is not a beauty pageant I want you to be you.

2. Age, height, size, cis/trans status, hirsuteness, and ability to shake it to Beyonce are not part of the consideration. I don't care about any of these things unless they are part of the story that you wish to celebrate and share.

3. I am more interested in the "unsung" here. So many women have achieved so many amazing things (often whilst also being expected to hold everything together for everyone else) and for the purposes of Ms NAIDOC, I'm more interested in the stories of amazing women which haven't been told. This doesn't actually exclude our high profile women, mind, rather if they are high profile for certain reasons, I would rather we told different stories here so we can highlight their amazing diversity.

4. YES, you can nominate someone else. Make sure you do it with their consent though. I do not want to be told off because someone has appeared on here who does not want to be so named. 

5. As the Deadly awards offer three awards for sportsmen and only one for sportswomen, and as women have only won roughly a quarter of the findable "Sportsperson of the Year" NAIDOC awards, I would dearly love a few female sports stars among the mix. 

6. This is not a competition. There will be no winner. I just want to celebrate our women and this does not include a "judging" session.

So, have you won your local beat poetry comp with a number on land rights? Earned a Masters degree whilst bringing up three kids on your own despite the fact that you left school at 14? Escaped an abusive relationship and are helping other people to do the same? Beat cancer? Got straight As at school this semester? Fought the patriarchy and won? Come first in the under 14s 110m hurdles and plan to represent the country one day? Cooked dinner and did not blow up the kitchen (this would be a high point of my own achievements)? Do you want to be celebrated for reasons other than how you turn out in a frock, heels and make up? THEN I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Ms NAIDOC: Because let's stuff the patriarchy and celebrate our women. 

Email photos and stories to This may happen, or it may not because folks just are not interested at all. I really hope it does though. 

Note: If I have forgotten anything, drop me a question via the comments section, or I will update this as I think of it. Cheers!     

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm just so damn exhausted

I'm worn out. I'm over it. I don't even know where to begin. I'm 36 years old and I have been having these conversations my entire life yet it seems that regardless of what evidence is put in front of them, of what people hear or see or witness in some other form, they still nod ignorantly along with commentary such as what Mark Sawyer provided last week when he claimed that racism is as limited as people just saying stupid things and therefore it is not really racism at all. As Aamer Rahman rightly points out, having a white guy erroneously tell me this for what is approximately the 475,589,669th time in my life is about as ridiculous as having any bloke tell me sexism really is not a thing. It does not make it true. It's just an extraordinary amount of privilege trying to sell itself off as the rational and neutral opinion when it is neither and due to its incredible lack of experience of such matters, it shouldn't be considered as such. Yet time and time again it is and this is why I am feeling like a year's sleep wouldn't go astray. 

So in light of the concept of whitemansplaining neutrality and other such ridiculous notions, here are some other things that are exhausting me right now.

1. I am fed up with people simply glossing over the actual history, and present, of this country

People wonder why I get so damn angry every Invasion Day. It's because this day marks Australia being deemed "Terra Nullius", or land belonging to no one, by the colonisers and then settled without the consent of the people who were actually here and had been for several millennia. Sovereignty has never been ceded and a treaty has never been negotiated in this country. Whether you're a descendent of the First Fleet, a migrant, or even an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander who lives in lands that are not their homelands, you are benefiting from the displacement of First Peoples and this is yet to be rectified in any real way despite there being two centuries of opportunities in which to do so. It is also yet to be rectified in the classrooms. The concept of Terra Nullius was only overturned in the High Court in 1992 - 22 years ago which is in the lifetime of a good many people who will read this, I'd wager. When I was at school, I was taught that this land was "settled" yet reading up in later life on the massacres, the establishment of missions and the Tasmanian "Black War" shows how this is not the case. Then there's the Stolen Generations, the 1967 referendum, the deaths in custody, the NTER and so forth to consider. If these things are actually taught in any great detail nowadays then consider me shocked.

What I do know though is rather than educate themselves, ask questions or grapple with the fact that maybe they don't know it all, there are some out there who would prefer to point the finger at me and my actions; accusing me of being divisive for their own benefit and stubbornly ploughing on with their twisted and dominant-culture concepts of national pride. By doing so they are choosing to tell me that an entire section of my family and the things that they faced are irrelevant and undeserving of memory or dignity. This is not about "different opinions", this is about complete denial of heritage and stories of this country. They have never walked in these two worlds so have no concept of the tightrope act it is trying to feel proud of who you are whilst society does everything in its power to try and make you feel ashamed. Yet still, they believe they have the right try and aggressively squash dissension with their jingoism. When I say I'm over it, I'm probably understating the facts.

2. The cricket caucus

You know what's worse than racism? Those that enable it. You see, if someone comes out with a racist slur, statement or something they've openly outed themselves as a racist and they can therefore be dealt with. A racism enabler, on the other hand, when confronted with racism just stands there and does nothing therefore allowing racism to exist in the space they occupy. Through their inaction they create a safe space for racism to exist and consequently also create an unsafe space for those who may be affected by it. Maybe they feel uncomfortable saying something because they are worried about putting themselves in the limelight, and to an extent, I can understand that. It's shit being in the limelight. But the thing is, they are not the ones being utterly dehumanised by such comments and they are not the ones who are going to feel excluded or haunted by what they hear. It is not about them! Even saying that you don't appreciate such language being used can make the person who actually has been dehumanised feel just that bit safer. It's really not that much to ask. 

As for the person who is actually being dehumanised by the racist comment/slur/etc confronting it, believe me when I say that I have tried everything over the years and I can think of a handful of incidences where what I have said has been taken on board and apologies have been made. Much more often, I've been told that I can't take a joke. Because the systematic oppression of a group of people based on their ethnicity is so friggin' hilarious... Or I have been told that I am being "too PC", or the person claims they didn't mean anything by their comment and I'm the one that has blown it out of proportion and so forth. So basically it is my fault that I won't put up with racism. I've threatened to walk out of gatherings because I won't engage in "joking" racist discussions and I have been accused of taking things too seriously. Then sometimes I just give up because I have tried so many times to get the messages through and nothing has ever worked so I have more to gain from seeing who enables racism and avoiding those spaces in the future. It's fucked and it shouldn't be the case. So what can you do to ensure that it isn't?

3. The inability to criticise

Not that long ago I was unfriended on Facebook because I dared to question Adam Goodes accepting the Australian of the Year Award. My comment had nothing to do with him as a person but rather the historical context that he was accepting it under. Is this not a fair question 226 years and one basically hollow Federal apology later?

In an earlier blogpost, I detailed how I was accused of lateral violence by someone who should have known a hell of a lot better because I dared question the alleged "empowerment" of the Miss NAIDOC pageants. It is tough being critical of when we adopt other systems of oppression and rebrand them as "empowering" within our communities because we are apparently stunting community development regardless of what destructive messages we may also be sending at the time.

As Maddee Clark points out in this brilliant piece, there is such a huge level of responsibility when it comes to expressing black opinion. Every time we wish to discuss issues/cultural practices/etc that are even remotely negative, we have to be so careful because it is precisely this sort of commentary which racists, assmiliationists and other such types bide their time for then use to try and discredit our heritage. Every time I write anything, I wonder how it is going to be twisted, how it is going to misappropriated or deliberately misinterpreted by others looking to build their own notoriety. I'm still smarting from recent examples of this word twisting. I wish, just for one day, I could experience what it is like to write without this responsibility. Perhaps I am doing it a little today because I am certainly ranting with a certain abandon!

4. Ridiculous comments with no basis in reality

Despite me openly acknowledging my dual heritage constantly, even writing an entire article on the wonderful woman who is my mother, I have been accused of not acknowledging both sides of the family. The thing these accusers need to understand is that I have never experienced racism because I have non-Indigenous heritage. I have experienced it because I have Indigenous heritage that I have also never hidden because why the hell should I? It really is that simple.

On Facebook recently, I wrote this: 

I wish it didn't upset me when I hear that certain folks have been bagging me out behind my back about the amount of time they perceive that I spend on this poxy platform. Unfortunately it does though because, more often than not, the people stating so are actually those close by who are supposed to be supportive and who actually reap benefits off my support. Here's the thing: if it weren't for my social media engagement and the continual encouragement I received from people, some whom I have never met, I probably would not have started writing and contributing to some bigger discussions. It's amazing what some supportive notes urging a person to take their ideas further can do. And this from people who owe me utterly nothing at all; they've just taken it upon themselves to nurture someone else. Perhaps instead of carrying on with the tall poppy crap you could take a leaf from their book. The world would be a better place if more did.

Yep, it's real fun trying to make what little difference you can make utilising tools available and being hit with this sort of crap. Seriously? If you have to bag someone you're supposed to care about out behind their back in order to make yourself feel better about your meagre little existence then perhaps it's time to diversify your hobbies or something.

So yep, sometimes it gets a tad tough and it can be even more so when it's those that should know better are supplying the toughness. But I will live to rant another day. Of that, I'm quite sure...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Happy 2nd birthday, Rantings!

Yep, on Monday, this lowly, back-alley blog turns 2 years old. Not a bad effort for a little free site I started up after receiving some wonderful encouragement from a couple of slightly older-than-I Aboriginal women. It's been causing me all manner of strife since and nowadays my free time seems rather scarce. 

This past week, I took part in a Q+A panel at the Emerging Writers' Festival. One of the questions put to us was what a prospective writer should do to get their work noticed and published. I answered honestly on this one: even though it's been two years since I started this, I didn't actually start it because I was pursuing a writing career. I started it because I love writing, because I had heaps of ideas swirling around my head that I wanted to get out there, and because I wanted to claim an Aboriginal feminist space. I got lucky in that mere weeks after I started this, a piece grabbed the attention of an editor and so it has gone from there. So I know utterly nothing about how to go about having a writing career beyond "write stuff". I'm still here because I still love ranting and writing, and this blog, no matter where else I publish, will always be my home. 

I have learnt a hell of a lot in the time since I started this page. I don't often go back over my writings due to the cringe factor, but the ideas keep growing and gaining shape. My language continues to develop as well. Not sure what this third year of Rantings will bring, as my favourite mode is still to respond to stuff when I want to and when it grabs me, but I can guarantee that I will be looking more at the concepts of self-determination on both a black and a women's front. I have also discovered that solidarity does not always work due to the ongoing process of colonisation in this country and therefore there is more knowledge that needs to be formulated on this topic. I am still fascinated with the "layers" of patriarchy and will continue to call these out when they manifest in both the mainstream and the Aboriginal community. AND, there may just be a couple more videos and podcasts that crop up.

Or, I may just fall out of favour and this site ends up being it for me. Who knows? I have always been incredibly thankful for the reads from you lot, that's for damn sure, and I hope that I can continue to write material of interest. Coming up soon are two more articles in external publications, as well as three that I have half-written on this site. I will also be talking at two conferences, and have had enquiries about a number of other events. One thing I do ask though: I have a full-time day job and am very much the freelancer for any of this stuff. My backlog at this point is incredible and therefore priority at this point is going to paid gigs and Indigenous events (unpaid or paid). I'm sorry for any delays however I do get a lot of unpaid "great opportunities" come through my inbox and while I always appreciate the thought, I am limited time-wise and therefore have to prioritise. I never expected to be in this situation in the first place so I hope you understand :)

Finally, I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have read my stuff and visited this site over the past two years. Your encouragement has been what has kept me going, and I really appreciate it. If you want to catch some of my anecdotal daily stuff, be sure to join my Facebook page because try as I might, I still cannot seem to gel with bloody Twitter. For no reason at all, except that tomorrow is Sunday, please enjoy the below tune for Rantings. Cheers so much!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Forum for Indigenous Research Excellence seminar - Uni of Wollongong

Aye werte! This was taken on the 14th of May, 2014 at the University of Wollongong's Forum for Indigenous Research Excellence. For more information, please check out their website. Thanks to Bronwyn Carlson for the opportunity to speak, as well as to the UoW Feminist Society for co-promoting the event and coming along. It was a wonderful experience with a packed room of great folks. Although I am always too shit-scared to watch footage of myself, I hope that others get something out of it!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Recognise and St. Kilda

This is an amended post from my Facebook page. Sharing it onward because I wish to fuel discussion.

I am currently in the process of writing up some stuff I found when recently over in Hawaii, and tackling some looming homegrown stuff as well.

One such thing was a recent photo put out by the Recognise campaign indicating that the St. Kilda football club had pledged their support for Constitutional Recognition. This is further explained on the St Kilda website. I have been, more and more, indicating my personal stance as being opposed to this move for a number of reasons. My reasons for being opposed to the move for Constitutional Recognition are currently being collaborated and will hopefully be posted soon. To this point though, I have personally avoided delving, as due to my position within the NTEU, I do not want to be seen wrongly as representing members' views. I am a staff member of the NTEU, not an elected representative yet community often conflates the two.

To return to the recent post by Recognise. As far as ensuring that my lack of support was sealed, the St Kilda FC support really took the cake. If Recognise are going to use football clubs as their poster boys to ensure public support then they should be looking at teams that don't publicly paint women who bring cases of sexual abuse against players as liars in the media whilst also rallying to raise money from their rich sponsors for a player's legal defence against said charges then fronting up at a White Ribbon event only weeks later. As a black woman, St. Kilda support for CR is like a rude slap in the face.

Aboriginal women, in some parts of the country, experience domestic violence at a rate roughly 45 times what the mainstream rate is, and are significantly more likely to be victims of sexual assault than other women. This is a real issue that needs tackling. If Recognise is looking at getting women on board perhaps it should look broader than trying to clinch popular support by using a team in which certain players and officials deal with cases of violence against women so flippantly. Then again, using football clubs for promotional purposes seems to be the "free kick" when building popular support in this country, so I doubt much thought has gone into this at all.

It was pointed out to me that as the AFL broadly supports Constitutional Recognition and has stated so, then St. Kilda endorsement is expected. I agree with this completely, but for me, it just reinforces the point that this campaign is more about celebrity endorsement and outward acceptability and respectability than it is about causing any real change. Football players are god-like figures in this country. Using their profile is guaranteed to attract positive attention to a campaign. However, using their profile indiscriminately causes offence. How can I even begin to accept that this is truly a campaign for social equality and recognition of first peoples when the ethics of certain people within the ranks of this club when it comes to the topic of women's rights, as displayed publicly, leave a hell of a lot to be desired? If this is the CR playbook then what changes can we actually expect Constitutional Recognition to achieve, particularly for black women?