(from my notebook): The embassy is spread across three camp sites, each a few kilometres apart. It is a beautiful stretch of bush, a land signposted by awesome gums with secret hollows and gnarly limbs – the sacred birthing trees of the DjabWurrung people. You feel the presence of history in this country, of lives having passed through here for millenia, existing in symbiosis with everything this landscape provides. And all fully framed by the stunning, imposing presence of the sandstone outcrops and ranges known as Gariwerd. The highway cuts through like a scar, and the state of Victoria now intends to prise it open, creating a seeping, exposed wound.
DjabWurrung Heritage Protection Embassy stands as a blockage against the incessant flow of colonising, state violence that attempts to wash away all trace of the cultural and environmental custodianship that Aboriginal people claim over this land. In this moment, that violence takes a most banal form – a state infrastructure project to widen the already existing highway between Melbourne and Adelaide. This would eradicate a site of sacred importance to the DjabWurrung people, including an 800 year old birthing tree that has seen over 50 generations born in the hollow of its trunk (more here).
“We will be beggars so long as we accept as universal the political divisions that cut up the white world and through which they conceive of the social conflicts and struggles that these divisions will engender. We will be beggars so long as we remain prisoners of their philosophy, of their aesthetic and of their art. We will be beggars so long as we do not call into question their version of History. Lets accept rupture, discord, discordance. Lets ruin the landscape and announce a new era”. – Houria Bouteldja
white person once asked of me “can’t you be less antagonistic when challenging
racism”? It was less a question, more a direction, imbued with all the
faux-innocence and partitioning of ‘civilised rationality’ as a quality
specific to whiteness, and therefore necessitating white people to preach the
word. The imperative that justified colonisation as the bringing of
civilisation to the barbarians, is now repeated by white liberals espousing
‘rational’ and ‘civilised’ debate in the face of racism and white supremacy.
Felt like putting up something a bit more posi here so… Sorry if you didn’t get to any Rebel Diaz shows on their recent tour of this dire place. But damn they were great. Revolutionary, anti-colonial hip hop from Chicago/ the Bronx that was an injection of inspiration straight to the veins. Plus now we’re crew I have to rep them. So here’s a track and film clip from their most recent album ‘America vs Amerikkka’. The track name translates to “And it’s going to fall”.
The suggestion that non-indigenous people living in this colonised land should seek out and connect with their own cultural roots and use this as a source of strength in acting with anti-colonial struggles here, is a common one in radical milieus. I understand how investigating ‘cultural roots’ is important for some people, that being able to trace lines of connection to ancestors who resisted colonisation in their time can be a great inspiration in the present. However, I have also found its abstract use to be both confusing and simplistically dismissive of the global consequences of capitalist colonisation and resultant migrations. I think that it is necessary to interrogate some of the problems that are contained within such an uncritical valorisation of historical identity and culture.
These issues recently arose again at a workshop I attended that was centred around issues of Aboriginal sovereignty and colonisation/ de-colonisation. One of the facilitators, a non-indigenous woman of colour, gave a spiel about the importance of locating cultural roots, of knowing the land where your ‘bones are buried’, and drawing strength from this heritage. While I don’t believe that my personal experience should be taken as constitutive of a critique of this position, I will begin by laying out my subjective position just as a bit of background, but also because I’m pretty sure that I might not be alone in this.
(Some thoughts and feels post-Christchurch on white supremacy, Islamophobia and eco-fascism after a few days of processing and conversations.)
There is no good to come from
this. There is no good to come from this. There is no good to come from this
and there will be no ‘but’ as an appendage to that assertion. It’s not like I
needed to be thrown into an abyss. It’s not like it took a white supremacist
terrorist murdering 49 Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch to send me towards hopelessness
about racism in this country. My nihilist tendencies already had me here and
from here – with no real hope in things changing – I am content to foment my
own little moments of resistance to this white supremacist, colonial state. But
spare me the light that shines its harsh glare onto my futile, scrambling
The first time I heard a non-white migrant use the word
‘settler’ to describe all other non-white migrants in so-called Australia, I
recoiled at this naming that felt so unfamiliar to my experience. I didn’t
associate with being a settler because that term seemed to place me within the
same racialised group as white people – and I had my own familiarity facing their
In any case, the discomfort of that moment provoked some
thinking on my part, as well as a few conversations with Aboriginal people, non-indigenous
people of colour and white folk. After initially feeling that my position as a
brown migrant bore no relation to white colonialism, it became apparent that for
many Aboriginal people it most certainly did. Dispossession from country, loss
of access to resources, and the struggle to hold onto cultural forms are all
ongoing effects of an unceasing colonisation that remains in full swing. While
racial power in this country is still specifically invested in whiteness, there
are significant material benefits that non-indigenous people of colour have
been able to access as an effect of colonisation.