Sam COOKs KISSmyBLAKartsCOLUMN – August 2007
BRITAIN WAS TANFASTIC, BUT I’M BLAK NOW!
“I WANNA BE BLACK” – shrieks the Essex girl with the platinum bottle blonde hair on one of the endless reality television shows plaguing the UK [& plaguing the world]. Her unmistakable Anglo features make me pause and for a brief moment wonder whether that’s a tolerant statement. However the pause was relatively short-lived as it became clear that it wasn’t out of the appreciation of UKs shades of black, it was a shout out to a nation obsessed with fake tan. OHHMYYFUGGINGGAAWWDDD
So ok I jump on the plane to OZ thinking, whitefullas in England want to be BLACK, sooooo looonnnggg as its NOT actualllleee “BLACK” and as dumbfounded as that makes me, it is not as dumbstruck as I feel when I grab a copy of The Sydney Morning Herald when in transit in Singapore. There emblazoned on its pages are the words - CAPITALISED and BOLDED in what looked like 50000point - “ABORIGINAL CRISIS”. Shiit what have I missed?
I’m gutted as I’m flying toward another blak bashing, but this time its not the usual underhanded or back door beat down in the alley when no ones looking, its straight out invasion – tanks and all!! I reach for the in-flight breathing apparatus cause I’m gasping for air over this one. At the same time kicking myself for never paying enough attention as to how those blinken masks work! Shiit panic, Shiit panic attack, shiit let me off, I wanna opt out.
I look around and catch the weird stares from the nearest flight attendant and think ‘fukk calm ur blak @zz down, you’ll be rugby tackled for fear of a terrorist plot and there’ll be another “ABORIGINAL CRISIS” to report on if you don’t breath!!
A couple of deep inhalations later I regain my composure, put on a fake smile and mime a re-enactment to the attendant, pretending I had almost choked on an icecube BUT-all-is-good-now-luvy-don’t-stress-or-press-the-panic-button. Whew that was close!! At least it got the eyes off me cause its bad enough that just being me is a source of confusion, being often mistaken overseas as middle Eastern or Indian with my long blak hair and nose-ring. But with the Helpmann Award performance of Ice-Cube-down-ya-pipe they came round and offered me the regular meal this time, not Halal.
So after a three month sojourn, which for one of the few times in my life, enabled me to be colourless and embraced as an artist in my own right, I stumble blak into the turmoil of life as a blakfulla in Australia.
I am unsettled. I’ve dipped my toe into another part of the world that despite its own flaws, is actually interested in what I have to offer and what I had to say. I come back to the thickened membrane of politics on ALL levels, laden with ignorance, injustice and intolerance known to me as the dark cloud of turmoil over Aboriginal society and I remember how good it was not to have to wade through this just to get to the art.
So as I sit down at my desk to the stream of acquittals, funding proposals, rationales, surveys, rejections, grievances, risk management dilemmas, inequities and macro-management agendas, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and say WELCOME BLAK….