Being a young Black woman on the internet has been an interesting experience to say the least. I've learned a lot and grateful for how far I've come. But putting myself out there for everyone to see has opened me up to a lot of things that now make me very aware of how visible in society I am as an Aboriginal woman. My writing and presence online has kept me motivated though to fight for my people and to speak up even when I know my voice will be met with anger and with people not wanting to understand where I'm coming from.
What drew me to the internet in the first place was the allure of being able to define myself on my terms and create a space for myself and other Indigenous peoples that could be entirely our own. It's very rare that we find autonomous spaces completely separate from private and government interests.
Writing up content for the blog in the beginning was fairly laid back. Though I eventually came to understand that it takes quite a lot of effort to keep the blog running and to keep my content relevant. I also learned that people definitely aren't afraid of swinging into full blown harassment and abuse online. Every time I post something “controversial”, my inbox is immediately filled with vile and abusive messages.
This creates a lot of anxiety for me, and I think it's the reason why I, at some points, don't post on the blog for weeks on end. I've gradually learned to just deal with this and ignore the abuse, because sometimes it's just better for my mental health to not engage with people who do not see or recognize my humanity.
Before my blog black-australia, I didn't experience community for quite some time and this was one of the key reasons why I set up the blog. Now that I've left home to live and study at college at the privileged, prestigious, white and overwhelming University of Melbourne, being able to connect with mob online is invaluable. It has removed the barriers of land and oceans between and brought so many important people into my life whose presence and influence I am ever so grateful for.
In addition to that, blogging has solidified in me how important it is to connect with other of colour communities around the world. Knowing there’s Black/Indigenous/other PoC (People of Colour) all around the world who experience the same pain I do is a relief. Through understanding our common struggles we can stand in solidarity with each other. In saying that, I have witnessed how prevalent colorism and anti-Blackness is in non-Black PoC communities, and I’m always eager to call that out. If we're going to talk about solidarity and our joint movements for justice and liberation, it can't be conditional. We need to be intersectional and inclusive in our activism.
Whilst on this journey, I've also explored the world of feminism and have ultimately found my footing as a Black intersectional feminist. Intersectional feminism has given me the tools to describe my experiences as an Aboriginal woman. I always knew I was treated and perceived differently because of my Aboriginality and being a woman.
I look up to women like Nakkiah Lui, Amy McQuire and Celeste Liddle who are such strong Black voices on social media on Aboriginal feminism and who are leading the conversation on institutionalised racism in Australia society. We need more strong women like them to be heard and to be given the chance to have their say, because I don’t know where I or other young Aboriginal women would be if we didn’t have them to look up to.
As young Indigenous people, we’ve never had many opportunities to express ourselves online and be who we are unapologetically. I see young fellas around me struggling so much, and that inspires me to keep a look out for them. If we don't look after our own, then who will? Online, I can give them the space to be themselves, speak their own truths and be unapologetically Black and proud. I hope I’ve inspired a sense of community within other young people as well.
I say to any young fella who wants to put their name and voice out there, do it!
There's nothing to lose, and everything to gain. It can be frightening putting yourself out there, but in doing so you are making your important voice heard. You're also being a voice for others who mightn't have the courage to speak up for themselves.
We are the ones who are already leading the fight for justice. We are standing up for our people. There’s so many young mob out there doing amazing, revolutionary and inspiring things. We're already making our mark in this world and expressing ourselves online is an avenue to having our voices heard and to defining ourselves on our own terms.
The more my blog allows me to connect with and encourage amazing young Indigenous people, the more I realise how much we needed and were missing this space. It's our time to shine, so let's reach for the stars and show the world what we we've got.
I'd also like to lastly give a few shout outs to young Indigenous peoples and other People of Colour doing interesting things online.
My first shout-out goes to Sovereign Trax. Produced by Wiradjuri woman Hannah Donnelly, Sovereign Trax “curates a monthly playlist of the maddest music from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists around 'Australia'”. There are some deadly artists on these playlists and it makes me so happy to see Indigenous peoples receiving the recognition they deserve for their work. Continuing on from their webpage… “Sovereign Trax is an subversive online space that encourages the consumption of our own music in an environment that speaks to our collective stories, identities and resistance.” What more could you want?! Check them out here on their SoundCloud page.
Next up is a shout out to my good friend Mikael. He is a passionate photographer and aims to elevate the voices of marginalised communities through his photography. He is currently pursuing a project titled Limit(less), the project “explores how LGBTQ African immigrants navigate their identities and find ways to overcome the supposed “tension” between their LGBTQ and African identities. The project seeks to visually deconstruct the colonial binary which states that one cannot be both LGBTQ and African by exploring how LGBTQ Africans in diaspora assert their African identities with their style.” Check out his work on his webpages here & here.
I’d love to also mention my lovely friend Somayra Ismailjee. She is a writer, an activist and a visual artist. She's such a passionate person and I'm constantly in awe of her writing, her perseverance and the things she's doing online. Google her right now!