zine: Blak Blow: The Blak Women’s Edition (#40, Dec 2018)
drink: Nature’s Organics beetroot latte mix with honey
music: Alessandro Cortini & Daniel Avery, Illusion of Time (2020)
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I can’t in good conscience charge for this Patreon for post so it’ll go live on my blog (eatdrinkstagger.com) at the same time as Patreon folx can read. Patreons are getting a keg-load of content this month anyway 😉 I started writing this way before the TLB…’stuff’ emerged, so please don’t crucify me. I took ages to read this issue to do it justice. And don’t judge me – that beetroot latte mix is delicious! * * * visual descriptor: 1. a blak woman, illustrated, sticks out her tongue on a pink magazine cover that says ‘Blak Brow’ 2. a black ziplock packet of organic beetroot latte powder mix 3. a quotation on the back cover of the mag 4. the ingredients lists at the back of the beetroot latte powder mix * * * https://eatdrinkstagger.com/there-better-be-a-better-blak-future
You don’t often realise that a year, a month, or a week is going to be the best or the worst of your life long after you’ve survived it.
Going to the The Lifted Brow issue launches are always a…how to put it? Someone like myself never quite feels at place. It’s too cool, everyone is talking about what they’re working on (but not giving away too much) and pretending. Or perhaps that’s just me.
At the Blak Brow launch, I met people who I had no idea would become part of my life thereafter. Footscray Community Arts Centre was packed: it was different, being in a crowd where bodies of colour were the default. It was still socially daunting, due to the number of folks there, but not ‘I urgently need to find a blank corner to sneak a diazepam and lack of stimuli’ threatening.
I am terribly slow reading periodicals, and I find TLB hard-going generally. This time last year, I lost the ability to read as my body began to unravel seemingly not in sync with my mind. Though I thought the worst year of my life (2016) was behind me, at least I’d had the luxury of hospital and specialised care. Last year, I was irresponsible and put a job before my health. I figured if I could afford my medication (some of which is expensive – as of Mar 2020, one is $140 AUD for a month’s supply), took it diligently, everything would improve. I was stubborn and didn’t go to hospital. I feel that ultimately cost me my job this year.
However, I met people all through 2019 who I could not have imagined would hold me together, just long enough to do things I didn’t want to do but had to. Sure, it’s become almost cliche to give space and voice to minorities, to those we would hardly have heard or seen even fifteen years ago.
Some voices should never have had to fight to be heard in the first place. My voice is not one of those. The ancestors of some of the oldest voices in the world reside in this part of the world (this still knocks me for six every time I think about it) and for so long, were silenced through genocide, invasion, erasure or ignorance. So grab a large mug of tea, sit down and get ready to read about Blak voices, finally being centred.
The works show the complexity of Aboriginal women’s lives and shows up the wooden and pedestrian one-dimensional narratives that blast out of Sunrise ‘talent’ and other purveyors of White Australia (can we please ban commercial television from hospital waiting rooms – it’s bad for our health).*
from the editorial of the The Blak Brow Women’s Brow Collective
There’s a really moving interview between mother and daughter called ‘The Walk and Talk’ with Rosie Kalina and Paola Balla – they have the sorts of conversations I can’t even have with cishet or queer white friends, let alone my mother. It just feels like a really surreal concept. Anyway, another quote:
Dort: …All these bloody plane trees aggravate me.
Mum: Isn’t it full on how colonisation not only stresses us mentally, but literally irritates your skin and body?
Dort: Migrants and settlers have been sold the lie of the lucky country. It overrides what we have been fighting for.
Mum: Multiculturalism is a planned construct too. The plan has been to breed us out, assimilate us, destroy us or silence us.
Dort: Where’s the outcry for the violence against our women? Painted to be a race thing, but where is the outcry for our women?
Mum: We know the horrible truth that white women’s lives are more valued in this country. My nan used to say, “If you’ve a pink split, you’re right.” She knew what the reality was for us. White feminism’s liberation was not tied up with ours.
The interview even goes as far to document how Western doctors want to sterilise Blak women, while white women were/are for fighting for the right to choose to have terminations. Dort’s mum adds that:
…Also, our sons and cousins and nephews need to know if they have kids with a non-Aboriginal woman, that we want those babies to come into the world with the same (birthing program) support.
Yugambeh poet and author Ellen van Neerven and her mother Maria van Neerven-Currie also get to chat in ‘Because of You I Can’, and it’s about how Ellen has inspired Maria to explore and extend her own creativity and its potential outlets. Also maybe don’t talk to me if you haven’t read Heat and Light or Comfort Food. I always get so nervous whenever I bump into her at readings or festivals and am chuffed she has a new poetry collection out!
Of course I’m going to be biased but this issue is so lucky to have poetic contributions from Evelyn Araluen, Natalie Harkin (worth reading her Dirty Words published by Cordite), Vicki Couzens, Jeanine Leane (whose book you can also get from Cordite), and Charmaine Papertalk Green (who cowrote False Claims of Colonial Thieves with John Kinsella…I still don’t know how I feel that a white man was partially involved in this project but that’s another issue), and Lisa Bellear.
However, I’m going to quote from a work by a Badimaya/Yamatji woman who wrote a poem called ‘Fractured Souls of Angels‘, whose work I was not initially familiar with.
A glistening blade, a dangling noose
Density of the tempting pills
Calling you to a secret place
We whisper “help” while shouting “go away”
To make us feel better
‘Binak’ by the Koorie Youth Council is absolutely a standout piece that I reckon high school kids should be reading, and is most definitely enhanced by Jacob Komesaroff’s comic panel illustrations.
I know this is getting long so now I’m just going to be listy, sorry. Other excellent standouts:
- ‘Creators and Colonisers ‘Naarm City Lights’, (2008) a description of Savannah Kruger’s installation depicting the decay invasion has wreaked upon the stolen land (at Footscray Community Arts Centre), and her poem towards the end of the issue
- ‘Blak To The Future Statement’ by curators Rosie Kalina and Hannah Morphy-Walsh, as well as Walsh’s separate statement ‘Blak To The Future’ immediately following
- all the Pop Quizzes!!! They’re feisty as hell, and rightfully so
- Timmah Ball’s ‘Imagining Lisa: Dreaming In Urban Areas‘ about Naarm (inner Melbourne)
- Celeste Liddle’s take on Trevor Noah being an arsehole (he is; he still hasn’t apologised for his demeaning jokes about FN women)
- Lidia Thorpe’s speech full stop
- lastly, ‘A Room With A View’ by Vickie Roach which should be made required reading to anyone who is not Blak. I do not say that lightly. The way this country treats its Indigenous folx, one of the oldest races in the world, and pretty much world treasure given that status is more than shameful. It is proof that so many of us still are devoid of both sympathy and empathy, and paints a bleak picture of the future to come.
But here I sit, a queer nonbinary British citizen, Australian permanent resident of Spanish-Filipino and Indo-Guyanese heritage (if you try to tell me that a. I’m South Asian Indian and/or b. South American, I will kick you in the fucking ‘nads; fair warning), with a blanket covering my legs, typing away on my 2012 Mac Book Pro, chugging down organic beetroot latte mixes with equally ethically produced milk in my Red Hill Brewery beer stein from the comfort of my couch and more than adequate sharehouse as I read and wrote this.
The multicultural dream my family were sold are part of the problem. We still are. We are never going to know what it’s like to be arrested for being drunk, die in custody due to the endemic negligence of ‘the people supposed to protect us’, and many of us ‘settlers’ and ‘migrants’ (euphemisms for invaders) will cling onto the fairly achievable dream that if you work hard enough, even from nothing, you can succeed in this shitty capitalist world. Even I am not without my privileges. My retired father pays for me to have private health insurance so I will never see the inside of a public psychiatric ward. He has worked most of his life in one (England, and here) and jokes that the private ones these days are as plush as hotels.
WE ARE STILL ON STOLEN LAND. SOVEREIGNTY WAS NEVER CEDED. I PAY MY RESPECTS TO ALL WURUNDJERI FOLKS, PAST, PRESENT, EMERGING, AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I AM PART OF THE SYSTEMIC TRAUMA OUR FIRST NATIONS FOLX FACE AS A ‘SETTLER’ OR ‘MIGRANT’. I WILL DO MY BEST TO KEEP DECOLONISING AND TO ELEVATE FIRST NATIONS CAUSES AND VOICES WHEREVER POSSIBLE BEFORE MY OWN COMMUNITY OF COLOUR.
*omg why is it that whenever I have ECT, I NEVER forget Sunrise being on in the waiting room and I’m always last to be treated? IT. IS. ABSOLUTE. HELL.
**full disclosure: I’ve performed with Savannah Kruger before, so knew her, but hadn’t known Hannah Morphy-Walsh, who I now also consider to be a friend and have done and will do activism work with
NB. Fri 10/4/2020: it pains me to have to disclose this but it is essential to you, the reader, and as respect to all previous contributors, interns, and staff at The Lifted Brow. Please note that this not reflect my personal opinion on the matter as I am not privy to enough information.
Many thanks to fellow disabled creative Pauline Vetuna for her feedback prior to publication of this piece. I met her at the Blak Brow launch, and consider it a privilege to now call her my friend and colleague, as well as someone who always has my back.Become a Patron!