Growing up Aboriginal in Australia.
Editor: Anita Heiss.
Genre: Non-fiction, indigenous australians, australian culture
My rating: ★★★★★
Release Date: Published 16th April, 2018 by Black Inc.
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
What did I think?
I want to say straight up that this should be mandatory reading for non-indigenous people in Australia. I learned so much from this collection of stories of growing up and life in Australia from Indigenous people all around the country.
There was as much variety in the experiences described as there was similarity. Common threads were having to deal with racism with frightening results such as anger, pain, stolen generations, and attempted murder. Sadly common too was the problem of not being white enough, not being black enough. It was confronting but thought-provoking in a way that makes me so glad I read through to the end. Being a collection of biographies of over fifty people, I spread out the reading over several weeks otherwise it could have been a bit much to take in.
Along with the trials, confusion and heartbreaking injustices, there is plenty of hope. There is encouragement, forgiveness, understanding, happy families, fun, creativity, personal and family strength, successes, nature, and Indigenous pride. So in many respects it was a beautiful read and I’m so thankful that the writers shared such intimate details about themselves and their families.
The book was important as a whole because of the variety in experiences and points of view, but I particularly enjoyed reading about Carol Pettersen, Shannon Foster, Jason Goninan, Adam Goodes, and Miranda Tapsell. Yes, ‘the’ Goodes and Tapsell.
You will get a lot more from this book than just an understanding of how much racist crap some individuals and groups have had to put up with (heads up – it’s a lot) because it’s full of fascinating people stories too.
Here are a few quotes from the collection (though unfortunatly I only marked them in the first few chapters):
“I didn’t want to walk around with it written on my forehead. I wanted people to know. But I didn’t want to do the telling. But neither my face nor my skin did that for me.” (Alice Anderson)
“I know identity is nothing to do with skin colour and it goes much, much deeper than that.” (Susie Anderson)
“We’ve never been alone, and we have each other. Not everyone gets everything, and we are so lucky for so much. I’m learning my place, my responsibilities. (Evelyn Araluen)
“I love that I’ve been lucky enough to travel to every Australian city and work with some of the best, most forward-thinking individuals, and coach many to extraordinary feats. I love the friendships that have been culturally safe and supported me to reach my childhood goals and taught me that our differences make us stronger not weaker.” (Don Bemrose)
“P.S. I truly love every square inch of Australia. I look forward to when we realise that this country is our giver of life and will survive long after we have passed on. Maybe, then, we will each choose a life similar to that of our ancestors: one of leaving soft footprints and a light touch on this landscape, and with a kindness for each other.” (Don Bemrose)
“They had given up the best years of their lives to fight Nazi’s and they hadn’t reckoned on coming home and marrying into families that espoused similar views.” (Katie Bryan)