July’s People

July's PeopleJuly’s People by Nadine Gordimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer imagines a violent, chaotic end to South Africa’s apartheid system: all-out war between black and white, with other nations getting involved (like Russia, Cuba, the US), mainly to support their own self-interest. Continue reading

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Monday Music & magnolias

I am documenting the flowering of a magnolia. I pass it on my way to work each day. This is the first shot.

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There are magnolias everywhere in Sydney right now. Yesterday I visited an old colonial home with two magnificent trees out the back, one covered in blooms, the other in buds. Of course, I went in for the close up. Continue reading

Force of nature

drummer

Pape Mbaye of Chosani Afrique (also main picture) at their recent CD launch in Sydney.

The heartbeat is a force of nature.

The heartbeat drives all mammalian life, all movement, all rhythm.

It’s a source of the rhythms of drums and dance. When I hear drums, I have to dance. I feel the rhythm throughout my whole body, I can’t remain still.

Hearing African drumming for the first time, when I was around 14, was a revelation. It felt like a home-coming, like I’d found the beat I’d forever been looking for.

Continue reading

Black enough for who?

Book cover - Anita Heiss looks over her glasses at the reader.In her Boyer Lectures, Marcia Langton points out that many white Australians haven’t really got to grips with the reality that Aboriginal people can be middle class. Instead they cling to a particular stereotype of Australia’s Indigenous population: very dark skinned, very poor and in need of help, either living isolated from modern society in remote areas, or begging on urban streets.

It’s a convenient stereotype, because it enables non-Aboriginal Australians to continue acting in racist and paternalistic ways towards Indigenous people, including denying them the right to self-determination and identity. Continue reading

Foreign Gods, Inc.

In her well known TED talk, The danger of a single story, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses the necessity of countering stereotypes and ignorance with stories that reflect the true diversity of societies, countries, continents and humanity generally.

As I write, events that occurred in France last week are dominating the media. I won’t say that there’s a single story about these events, although certainly you could argue that a dominant ‘single’ story equating Islam with trouble may have contributed to the extreme alienation of the young Muslim men responsible for the Charlie Hebdo and supermarket siege murders. Sadly, the murders will probably reinforce that story in the minds of people who already fear and hate Muslims. Continue reading

Crime fantasy mixes it up

riversQuite by chance, last year, I read several books in a row that featured mixed race protagonists. I didn’t read any of them because of this; in every case I only found out after I started reading them.

I see this coincidence as a promising indication that the diversity of western societies is at last getting represented in imaginative fiction. More stories are being told, more realities mirrored, more complexities explored.

[Warning: spoiler] Continue reading

Invoking the Anzacs

Dad in uniform, and as an old man. Two of his great loves are also pictured - my Mum, and flowering twig.

Dad in uniform, and as an old man. Two of his great loves are also pictured – my Mum, and plants – he’s looking at a flowering twig. This lovely montage was created by a friend for his funeral service.

There have been several media reports recently of people on buses and trains launching into racist tirades against Black/Asian/Arabic people who’ve had the misfortune to catch their eye.

In one that was captured on video only a couple of weeks ago, the gist of the white woman’s rant seemed to be that her grandfather hadn’t fought in the second World War so that ‘people like you’ (i.e. non-whites) could come to Australia.

Today being Anzac Day I want to put it firmly on record that I believe that my Dad, who also fought in WWII, did not fight for anyone’s right to make racist attacks on others. Continue reading