'I'm Aboriginal. I'm just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.
'What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal - however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don't ask her to camp in the desert. After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too "fair-skinned" to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita's involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.
'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.' (From the publisher's website.)
'There was a Facebook message from Hetti Perkins, which was an odd coincidence. I was working on a poem about her late father Charlie for a collection, which I would later abandon as I grew aware that I lacked the precision for poetry. The early interest I had attracted leading to these opportunities was more about a literary industry driven to uncover diverse new voices than an acknowledgement that with hard work and patience I might become a great writer. Attention that provided motivation but pushed emerging writers in directions at once exhilarating, confusing and premature. At the time I was considering using the title ‘Peeling’ for the poetry chapbook when I noticed her message. The poem was about her father’s role in the Nancy Prasad incident, where a five-year-old Fijian girl was deported to Fiji, symptomatic of Australia’s racist immigration policies of the 1960s.' (Introduction)
'In the 1960s Oodgeroo Noonuccal (then Kath Walker) hit the literary limelight as Australia’s first published ‘Aboriginal poet’ and since then Aboriginal writers have used their work as a form of self-definition and to defend our rights to our identity. Many authors are inspired by the need to redress historical government definitions of Aboriginality, to reclaim pride in First Nation status, to explain the diversity of Aboriginal experience, and to demonstrate the realities and complexities of ‘being Aboriginal’ in the 21st century.'
Source: Author's introduction.