“They had looked about themselves saw nothing to contradict the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance. 'Yes,' they had said, 'You are right.'”
The danger occurs in the transference. When the Western ideology becomes yours [ours]. With nothing else to contradict how do we stop the process? How do we even know it is happening? The frog sits in the pot of water. The heat builds over time. Over time, the heat builds. Slowly. Both indecipherably and not indecipherably. The main factor estopping resistance is not having an alternative. Not knowing there is a world outside the pot. Not knowing truth.
“We write to create, to survive, and to revolutionise; we aim to disrupt the State’s founding order of things, to disrupt the ‘patriarchal white sovereignty’… and the colonial continuum of history… to reveal what is missing in all the gaps, cracks and in-between silences we can find”
– Natalie Harkin
[It is writing oneself back into the narrative. It is replacing old narratives and discourses with new ones. It is increasing presence, whether in the media or other literature, to build resistance and receptiveness.]
“I wanted people to write down more true things about me—wanted to start writing down stories about myself, making myself real: making other people see me”
– Maxine Beneba Clarke.
More mirrors reflecting us back, so that we can smile, so that we can say, “I am fine. I am beautiful. Your standards of beauty are not the only ones.” More subversion, more breakage of dominant norms and stereotypes, so that the “I am beautiful” can stand. More and more contradictions to the lies. More and more re-definition.
“[A]trocities of colonisation must not be our defining point… [W]e can choose to live beyond the genealogical scarring… To do so, we need to be present in sites that disrupt colonial narratives. Resistance. We can transcend and subvert”
(Natalie Harkin again).
More overcoming, uninventing.
“And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it.”
But the wait has been a very long one. I battle with the young girl who became the woman who still lives inside the woman who was taught to hate herself. Two conversations and more are a-go within. If you listen, if you watch, if you read closely… you just may hear them. I’m wondering:
Writers and other creators of fictional worlds can no longer excuse or ignore colonialism, marginalization, and other forms of oppression. Literature can be a site of critical reflection, of critical consciousness and articulations of self – of attempts at naming and thus transforming the world. Our stories can no longer repeat the same fantasy of a White world...we must open up the discourse. ‘Diversity’ is not important – it is reality. You cannot efface reality.
for the parts of me that died, for those still the walking dead, for those already destroyed by the disease of self-hate, those already crushed by the hegemony, already their own oppressors as a result of its ideology. For the parts of me still being rescued from its clutches, now that the revelations and the truth and the word have poured like lava I am wondering, with Toni Morrison, whether, at least on the edge of my town, among the garbage and the sunflowers of my town, it’s much, much, much too late...
Piriye Altraide is a Nigerian born writer, spoken-word artist and self-proclaimed dancefloor extraordinaire. Piriye’s work centres on identity, belonging and the journey to self-acceptance in the context of the African-Australian diaspora. Piriye has featured at Afro Hub, Girls on Key and for Multicultural Arts Victoria. She is a 2014 Perth Poetry Slam finalist, co-curator of RMIT’s Un-lecture series, and has had her work published in Mirrors of Africa.