Book Review: Am I Black enough for you? #AWWC2012

In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.

Backcover blurb from her book.

Am I Black enough for you by Anita Heiss is a fantastic book. I really loved that although the court case against Andrew Bolt was the genesis for the book, it actually plays very little part in the story. Heiss, unsurprisingly, gives a really good explanation for why the claimants chose the Racial Discrimination Act to take Blot and his publisher to court and once I read it I realised that there really was no other option for them to achieve the ends they wanted to and ultimately did.

This book is like a 101 for people like me who have some little understanding of the First People of my country, but not nearly enough. Heiss writes with a lovely chatty tone and explains so many things that I have been unsure of before this. I am going to buy a copy for myself because I want my kids to read this. I will also be seeking out Anita Heiss’ other books and novels [Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming, Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence Sydney 1937] because I like her writing style so much, plus taking note of the Aboriginal authors* she mentions throughout the book and extending my reading list.

Heiss also talks about her career and the frustrations of being an Aboriginal woman writing about Aboriginal people and being passed over for white ‘experts’ who write about Aboriginal people and are somehow supposed to be objective. Throughout the book her determination to overcome the issues she faces with grit and integrity shines through. If you haven’t read this book I recommend you get your hands on a copy as soon as you are able.

*Alexis Wright, Melissa Lucashenko, Bruce Pascoe, Kim Scott, Tara June Winch, Nicole Watson, Philip McLaren, Doris Pilkington, Terri Janke, Sally Morgan. ETA: Larissa Behrendt (this is not an exhaustive list, if anyone is missing from this list it is more likely because I forgot to tag the page they were mentioned on not because the author didn’t mention them ~M)

Categories: arts & entertainment, Culture, education, gender & feminism, indigenous, Life

10 replies

  1. Have you read Larissa Behrendt?
    I liked the first half of Heiss’s book but the second half didn’t grab me at all. I found her Princess routine a bit tiresome after the 3rd or 4th relating.
    I read it because my daughter is one of these so-called ‘fair skin Aboriginals’ but I was actually a bit disappointed. Maybe if I looked at it from more of a 101 perspective I might like it more. *mmm nods*

  2. I haven’t read Larissa Behrendt I should though. Yeah the Princess thing did get old eventually but I did like that she shared that as well. I guess as someone who grew up around Aboriginal kids rather than with them it had the 101 stuff I needed but was always too afraid of looking silly to ask.

    • My husband and daughter are Aboriginal. If you ever have something you want to ask let me know and I will pass it on.
      Larissa Behrendt’s book Legacy is really good. I haven’t read Home.

  3. Thanks Bri, what a lovely offer.

  4. Not a problem Mindy. Husband has run a lot of cultural awareness sessions and deals with (on a daily basis) politicians and bureaucrats who have no idea about anything Aboriginal so he is happy for people to ask questions. And if he doesn’t know the answer he generally knows someone else who will!

  5. On the same theme, I recently watched Art+soul which I thought was a really good 101 on Aboriginal art, spirituality, and some sense of how it all hangs together. And again, lots of names of Aboriginal artists I want to see more work by.

  6. Hi Mindy thanks for your review. Much appreciated. Also there’s a list off 99 Black Books I recommend on my blog if you’re looking for any others. Across genres alphabetically. And other readers have also offered more suggestions. Happy National Year of Reading!
    Peace, Anita

  7. Bookmarked; thanks Anita! I have AIBEFY in my hot little hands right now, queued up after No Sex in the City and Wilful Impropriety.
    (For those looking, the direct link is Anita’s Black Book Challenge (BBC) )

  8. Thanks Anita for your comment, I have a sneaking suspicion that you mentioned the list on your website in the book as well *reviewer fail*

    Thanks Lauredhel for putting up the link.

  9. Interesting review. I too adore her frank writing style (although I didn’t mind her “Princess routine” at all). I found this book more enlightening than anything.
    Beyond that I will say only that I rather appreciate your Bolt-Blot typo, albeit undoubtedly a mere accidental pun. Heh 🙂

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