In times of such political unrest we seek guidance. In Australia, we commonly look to other countries. Particularly when it comes to matters of race and identity, we look to writers of colour to help us make sense of the world. During her visit to Australia last year, Reni Eddo-Lodge commented that she was in demand for speaking engagements in Australia, but less so in America because the market for commentary on race politics is saturated there. In Australia, turns out, it is not. Part of this, I believe is our cultural cringe; the lack of commercial success for homegrown cultural outputs such as Australian film tells me that we aren’t prepared to back something unless its recognised internationally first. The women of colour in Hot Brown Honey, whose multidisciplinary performance art deftly tackles intersectional feminism, have found themselves on the cover of Vogue UK, yet this level of acclaim has eluded them in Australia. This cultural cringe means we don’t listen to what people – black people – from here have to say about race. Cornel West has visited twice in the last three years selling out shows around the country and appearing on Q&A each time.
Australia suffers from what could be called Little Country Syndrome. Since World War Two we typically turn to the US for political guidance. This is all very obvious from a country whose white population came about as a result of a penal colony constantly turning to and rushing to the aid of the mother country in its early war efforts (see: the Boer War and World War One). America’s cultural imperialism means we are exposed to so much of their cultural and political output. A huge consequence of this has been formulating an understanding of race through an American lens. Australia’s concept of Blackness is formed by what we have observed from them. We know more about Martin Luther King than we do about Uncle William Cooper.