Saturday, November 23, 2013

TKW Guest blog: IndigenousX changed my life.

A guest blog from one of my favourite tweeps, @TheKooriWoman 

A little over a year ago I wasn’t feeling too great about the place I was working. The usual trouble for outspoken Aboriginal women I realise now, but at the time I didn’t really have anything tangible to relate what I was going through to. Any and all of my suggestions were being ignored, requests for further training were denied, accusations of theft against me, incredibly tense colleague relationships to name but a few of the problems I was dealing with. The final straw was the news that my position was being re-advertised, and a man was being actively sought to take my place in accordance with cultural sensitivity protocols regarding the handling of certain artefacts (2 artefacts in all. Which were housed in a static display case, and only moved for cleaning), that were usually handled by a male volunteer.

I sought solace in reading, as I invariably do at times of high stress. Only this time I wasn’t in the mindset for novels and escape, I wanted to get back to myself as I had been before starting to work and trumpeting other peoples truths as my own and slowly eroding my spirit in the process. I’ve always called myself a feminist, and had read a great deal of feminist theory, but hadn’t done so for a good while. I was reading Aint I A Woman by Bell Hooks, and a thought struck me – where are the Australian Aboriginal feminists? I was looking for a dose of something more close to home, something to identify with on a deeper personal level. I learnt long ago that there is a lot of white womens feminist theory and reading that is beyond ridiculous in its absence of and ignorance towards people of colour. I was carrying a lot of hurt and anger that was slowly, quietly turning into a rage that if it had peaked, would have consumed me.

I had read Talking up to the White Woman by Aileen Moreton-Robinson and at the time, wasn’t moved. (This is something I have been thinking about a great deal lately, and will write about in depth on my blog). I decided to get online and check out what other Aboriginal women were saying and doing and thinking. I needed to connect with something larger than myself, I was becoming lost in myself and a sense of hopelessness was pervading even the most mundane everyday acts.

The first link was to a blog called Rantings of a Black Feminist by a woman named Celeste Liddle. I clicked on that page and my world has never been the same since. I think I just about devoured every piece Celeste had written to that point on a very dark and rainy afternoon and well into the night in one sitting. Only taking a break to cook dinner and make cups of tea. I never use the word inspirational. It’s way overused and has lost most of its meaning thanks to glossy magazines and to some extent Oprah. (yes, I said it). But this for me, this was inspirational. There really is no other way I can convey the sense of joy and understanding I felt reading Celestes work. A gentle feeling of fun runs through a lot of her pieces. Even on the most difficult of topics, and underneath it all, a mind like a well oiled steel trap. I had never ever entertained the thought of creating my own blog space. But now I had to. A tiny space where I could put my truth back in order and start my own inner healing. Inspired entirely by Rantings of a Black Feminist. I called it The Koori Woman, and decided it would be my truth, my voice and I would own it. The mere act of creating the wordpress page was uplifting within itself. I am forever indebted to Celeste.

The very first piece I read mentioned that Celeste was curating a Twitter account called IndigenousX. That looks interesting I thought. I made a twitter account called The Koori Woman followed IndigenousX and on my very first day met the people who have become my friends for life. Always interesting and never boring, a lot of the time the IndigenousX Twitter account sets the topics for discussions across Australia, no mean feat for an idea that came to fruition out of a sense of frustration at the lack of Indigenous voices on social media!

I timidly (yes, me, timidly) asked Luke Pearson (IndigenousX creator) if I could have a turn sometime. When he replied and said how bout next week? I was chuffed. I took the opportunity to talk about my hometown, highlight some racist acts and connected with a lot of very genuine, honest and willing to learn people. It was through my first turn on IndigenousX that I found a voice that I had been stifling for a very long time in an effort to pursue my career without creating waves.

The storify of my curation is available here and after re reading it, I can see the areas that I have grown, where my confidence kicked in during that week and I remember even though I was a little intimidated at first, it galvanised me into taking a more active role in highlighting the injustices Aboriginal Australians are still facing through racism and discrimination through writing. Curating the IndigenousX account was an experience I will never forget. Unlike other rotational curated accounts, IndigenousX belongs to that weeks tweeter, and that tweeter alone. No topic is off limits and every week is a journey with that tweeter. It’s a small window into a different Indigenous person each week and really showcases how diverse and deadly we all are in our own different ways.