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Listening to My Country

Posted on 8 May, 2016

In January, Stan Grant’s amazing speech at The Ethics Centre was released onto the Internet, and many Australians stopped and listened to his passionate and powerful words. If you’ve not watched it yet, you should indeed do so:

And then over this past week I’ve read his book Talking to My Country. The power of that speech is magnified in it as Grant writes beautifully about his family and their history, of how it feels to be an indigenous person in Australia, and the past that our country still hasn’t truly acknowledged.

In some ways, it reminded me of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (which I’ve written about previously) - they’re both providing important personal and historical narratives to their own countries, tackling the critical issues of race and racism, and they are also both superb writers.

On the cover of Talking to My Country there is the line “The book that every Australian should read.” It is spot on - I highly recommend you find a copy and make the time to read it. But don’t stop there! You cannot pretend that all Aboriginal voices are saying the same thing - no one is foolish enough to claim the same about white Australians - and so we must actively seek out Indigenous perspectives (as the mainstream media is still terrible at highlighting them for us).

You could start with Celeste Liddle’s post from Invasion Day on how to show solidarity with Indigenous Australians. Follow that up with Luke Pearson’s piece on feel-good moments and the need to think more deeply. And then go a bit deeper with Megan Davis’ insightful “Listening but not hearing”.

As I’ve said in previous posts: if you’re on Twitter, follow IndigenousX - with a different Indigenous voice every week, it’s a brilliant way to broaden your own perspectives of Australia. If you’re in Melbourne and want to understand the history of the local area more deeply, you should visit the Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square, and especially take their Walking Birrarung tour.

Stan Grant’s speech is full of brilliant and righteous fire, and I hope you watch it. His book is filled with gorgeous and powerful prose, and I hope you read it. But our country is filled with so many other talented and amazing Indigenous voices, and I hope you listen to them too. It’s a necessary step towards a more honest, respectful, and fair Australia.