Portrait_thumb_pip_thug_2

NAIDOC Week 2018 will celebrate the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make - to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation. For over 65 000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have carried our dreaming stories, songlines, languages and culture as leaders, politicians, educators, knowledge holders, musicians, athletes, artists and activists. They have marched, protested and spoken for national reform and justice, all while, in many cases, looking after a family, a home and facing not only cultural and racial barriers, but also institutionalised gender stereotypes. Yet, so often, Indigenous women’s role in our country has been overlooked or diminished. As an Aboriginal woman myself, this NAIDOC Week theme is particularly close to my heart and something I want to celebrate. I chose this book for this month’s book club because I wanted to draw parallels between this important celebration and the journey that we as readers embark upon with our own strong, black, female character: Starr Carter. Whilst being set in America, the experiences and themes covered in this novel are all too close to the reality of many in Australia today. Starr witnesses the horrific shooting of an innocent black teenager at the hands of a white police officer, fuelling her fight for justice for her childhood friend, her community and for the wider African-American community. She risks her own safety and gives up her anonymity in order to shed light on the reality of the situation that she, and so many others, have faced. A reality that has lasted for thousands of years. Within her novel she leads a new generation of the Black Lives Matter movement, in real life, Thomas has used Starr’s story to fictionalise her own experience, her own activism and her own fight within the contemporary Black Lives Matter and feminist movements. Her success has given hope, raised awareness and given us, whether we are African-American, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Anglo-Saxon or any other race, female, male or any other gender, a sense of immense empowerment through the development of a strong, female lead character. A sense of empowerment that, whilst we should aim to feel all the time, we are reminded of explicitly during this week.