• Black Nations Rising is a magazine practicing self-deterrmination through self-publishing. (Black Nations Rising)
COMMENT | There's never been a more important time to rise up and use our voices, to tell our stories. on our terms. In fact, it's a fundamental part of self-determination, says Black Nation Rising co-editors Anita Goon Wymarra and Pekeri Ruska on the eve of the launch of BNR Issue 5.
By
Pekeri Ruska

15 Apr 2016 - 5:48 PM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2016 - 5:48 PM

Black Nations Rising (BNR) was established to provide a platform for Aboriginal people (and Indigenous people from around the world) to share their stories of resistance and revival. With each issue, we aim to inspire our readers to take steps to decolonize through resisting and reviving in their daily lives.

BNR is the evolution of Brisbane Blacks, a magazine that was founded around the sacred fire at Musgrave Park, it has developed into a publication that ensures a national and international focus of decolonisation. We produce content that is thought provoking and educates about issues Aboriginal people face today - politically, culturally, environmentally and legally.

We provide and demonstrate practical ways in which Aboriginal people can resist and revive on an individual and collective level and also inform our readership about the struggles of other colonised people around the world.

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) produce the magazine four times a year. Our entire team is Aboriginal and volunteer based, giving approximately two hours a week to pull the magazine together. It is made up of editors, a graphic designer, printing and distribution managers and a cartoonist. But of course, our publication would not exist if it were not for each of the contributors from around the country and the world who support our cause.

We are all too familiar with how our history has been recorded and adjusted to suit the invader's language, to predominantly appease their conscience, and ultimately, continually disregard our complex ways of being. Yet we have learnt to use the English language as one of our strongest weapons to fight the system - colonialism and all that it produces. We use it to our advantage and pride ourselves on the fact that you do not need to be a journalist to write for BNR; our contributors tell their stories in their own voices.

The magazine provides a space for Aboriginal people to bring to light issues that affect us personally, to write and rewrite our own history, from our own unique perspectives, as we remember and understand it.  It is not through the eyes of external onlookers or historians.

Ultimately, BNR is the conscious undoing of white paternalism that exists in almost every aspect of Aboriginal affairs. If anything, we hope that BNR opens the minds of our readers, allowing them to question all that exists around them, to want to dig deeper and understand entirely our true history and all that it is required to decolonise as an Aboriginal (or Indigenous) person.

Our publication is not dictated by government funding, it is not about raising revenue; it is about raising awareness as a powerful vessel for our own voices to reaffirm our position as Aboriginal people. Essentially, it is an alternative source to mainstream media.

We cannot rely on mainstream media to get our stories correct, all too often we hear and see the paternalism and underlying racist tones they use when reporting about Aboriginal people. You only need to look to the recent uproar that gained significant attention over university students being advised to use the term ‘invaded’ instead of ‘discovered’ when referring to the arrival of Captain Cook to Australian shores.

One might consider this being attributed to a ‘generational gap’ and the lack of awareness but sadly it highlights the true state of affairs of how Australia continues to hide its Aboriginal history. We want to change that, one reader at a time.

This is why BNR is so important and must continue on from the collapse of vital Aboriginal media that were integral to advocating for the Aboriginal rights agenda such as Tracker and the National Indigenous Times.

Our stories talk about real change, we offer a platform for people to share their alternative views on Government propaganda such as constitutional recognition. Our writers talk treaty, treaties and alternative ideas to progressing our people locally and nationally - we do not limit or control their voices.

Our stories inspire healing of the individual and entire communities. Further, our publication is unlocking the want and yearning of young activists, reigniting the fighting spirit within to challenge and question the status quo.

The previous four issues of BNR have been jam-packed with invaluable experiences, knowledge and stories that teach and inform the wider readers how we as Aboriginal people are continuing our fight to resist, revive and ultimately, decolonise. Issues one to four have included a 'Decolonise Your Diet' segment, promoting the importance of reviving traditional foods and using them as medicine. Our 'Warrior Profile' allows Aboriginal people to share their motivations to actively resist colonisation whilst ensuring the revival of their culture.

We have covered the importance of Invasion Day rallies, the 2014 G20 resistance, the relevance of NAIDOC activism (or lack thereof), the importance of nationalism in sport, the false hope depicted by native title, racism faced and fought in our everyday lives, climate matters, lock-ons and stand offs to protect land, shutting down of major city centres to fight against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities (who are being coerced and driven off their sacred land), the list goes on. In every piece, there is a message of struggle and survival, of fight and revival.

In the latest issue of BNR (Issue 5), Yugambeh and Mununjali man Shawn Andrews tells about the importance of changing the approach to education, to ensure the truth is told. Gomeroi man Cameron Manning Brown shares why he chooses to represent his culture through the modern medium of tattoos, and Yuggera and Butchulla woman Kamarra Bell-Wykes talks decolonising theatre.

There is a call out by the youth to be trained and mentored by elders, to be able to teach them of the moral responsibilities and obligations inherited and yet to be inherited to become true leaders. We have also featured stories of international resistance from the Mapuche, the Mi’kmaq and the Timorese.

BNR is vital because these fundamental stories paint a picture that we need Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to be fully conscious of in order to challenge the current conditions in which we are subjected to and ultimately lay a foundation for autonomous, self-determining futures.

We have numerous unions who support BNR by printing high-quality copies each edition, who without, we would not get the magazine printed. We work on a ‘pay-the-rent’ model of subscription requiring non-Aboriginal people to pay, allowing us to cover the postage costs of our Aboriginal subscribers who receive the publication for free. By all means it is a difficult process producing a magazine with no funds to pay our team, our contributors or print independently.

But ultimately we set up BNR using the principles of self-determination ensuring autonomy of content at all times. It is time consuming, but we do it because we feel it is the right thing to do, it is what we need to do for our current and future generations. It is a labour of love, of empowerment and of strength, that we feel is important and worth every minute the team puts into it.

In all that we do, we must remember all that our ancestors did, knowing that they are always watching.

We are always looking for Aboriginal people locally and Indigenous people from across the world to contribute to the magazine in any way they can. We take submissions in the form of articles, poetry/spoken word, interviews, photographs, cartoons and artwork. Contact the BNR team via email (blacknationsrising@gmail.com) to discuss contributions to our magazine. Our voices must be heard!

 

To subscribe to Black Nations Rising magazine, click here and to read the latest issue of BNR online for free, head here