The Right to Tell a Story

The recent social media stoush over American author Lionel Shriver’s (We Need to Talk About Kevin) speech at Brisbane’s Writer’s Festival raised interesting responses for and abou…

Source: The Right to Tell a Story

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To all writers – How to be persuasive

Dear Writers,

I am tired of outrage. I am tired of sarcasm. I am tired of opinion masquerading as fact.
Most of the social issues addressed on the myriad of social media platforms are important or interesting for the broader community. But when opinions and commentary are laced with bile and vitriol, a writer loses not only their opponents but also many of their supporters. I’m not sure what this kind of writing is worth. Multiply that by multitudes of baying commentators, and the online world becomes very loud and angry.
Telling a person who has a different point of view or experience from you that they are stupid, insensitive, or a bleeding heart is a pointless waste of time and just so much hot air. It only serves to inflame differences, and this cannot provide a worthwhile outcome.
I work in one of the most multicultural environments – I teach academic English to international students – and we all find our beliefs challenged from time to time. We mistake our own cultural norms for being ‘right’.
They are not, they are simply a product of our experiences, and some of us have more experience than others. It is interesting to see the young people I work with realise that the world is bigger and more diverse than they imagined.
So, why not try to win your opponents over by enlightening them? If you have more information than someone else, share it. We don’t blame and shame a child for being a inexperienced or having a narrow outlook on the world. Why treat an adult the same way?
Apart from being rude, telling someone who disagrees with you that they are stupid is counter-productive. If you look very closely at a person you offend, they are not listening to you with open ears, they are offended by your lack of respect towards them. You have lost them. You might even reinforce their opposition.
Instead of bashing them about the head with their ‘wrongness’, why not give them something to think about? Why not treat them with some decency and respect? You are far more likely to have an impact.
It’s hard enough to be civilised in a community of thousands, but now that our multicultural community is in the millions and billions, the need to be respectful and persuasive is even more crucial.
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My Black Is, by Noel Price

This powerful protest song is by performance artist Noel Price. 

Price’s song opened and closed an Australian investigative journalism piece on #BlackLivesMatter. I couldn’t find it anywhere online, except on the Facebook page of the ABC program, Foreign Correspondent.

This song beautifully encapsulates the desires and demands of African Americans specifically, as well as those of oppressed black lives worldwide.

I was also moved and impressed by the artwork and journalism of Erik Rodriguez and Darryl Holliday @ Illustrated Press.

Together with ABC journalist Sally Sara, they paint what I think is a balanced, humane picture of the terrible situation facing many African Americans – injustice, disadvantage and broken hopes.

 

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Illustrated Press on “Foreign Correspondent”

I was incredibly impressed by this work on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent investigation on #BlackLivesMatter. Reporter Darryl Holliday and illustrator Erik Rodriguez are part of a disruptor style of journalism – comics journalism. It does a fantastic job of personalising a story, where the story can be told with an immediacy that isn’t possible in other forms. We can imagine ourselves in the thick of the story, in particular “How to survive a shooting”, which featured in the program.

Illustrated Press

Animated illustration from Illustrated Press art director Erik Rodriguez gives an update to our award-winning 2013 Chicago Reader story “How to Survive a Shooting” and provides the backdrop to this hourlong documentary from Foreign Correspondent on the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Chicago and Baltimore.

Check out Erik and Darryl’s work on the recently released ABC piece below:

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“For African Americans like J.C. Faulk, the great civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s was unfinished business. Battles were bravely fought and won, but somewhere along the way the ball got dropped.

Now, black America is rising up again over the mounting death toll of unarmed civilians killed in encounters with police, and the incomprehensibly routine atrocities that torment gang-infested neighbourhoods.

“What we’re seeing is the birth of a mass movement” – Melina Abdullah, #BlackLivesMatter”

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Memory Banda – a young woman warrior

A Warrior’s cry against child marriage

I’ll marry when I want.
My mother can’t force me to marry.
My father cannot force me to marry.
My uncle, my aunt, my brother or sister, cannot force me to marry.
No one in the world can force me to marry.
I’ll marry when I want.

Even if you beat me, even if you chase me away, even if you do anything bad to me, I’ll marry when I want.

I’ll marry when I want, but not before I am well educated, and not before I am all grown up.
I’ll marry when I want.

This poem was written by activist Memory Banda’s 13-year-old friend, Eileen Piri. In her country of Malawi, young girls would not only be allowed to get married at 15 years of age, they were sent at puberty to a camp where they were taught how to please a man. This ‘tuition’, which included having sex with a man brought in specially for the occasion. This camp had left Memory’s sister pregnant at 11, but at least she didn’t catch HIV/AIDS or any other STDs, which can also occur. Memory was determined to live her life differently.

Memory wanted an education. She also wanted other girls, like her friend, Eileen, to be able to “get well educated, to find a decent job in the future,” Memory says in a recent TED Talk.

Memory found support in an elder in her community, and they were part of a movement that changed the marriage age from 15 to 18, the age Memory is now. “When the child marriage bill was being presented in February,” she says, “we were there at the Parliament house. Every day, when the members of Parliament were entering, we were telling them, ‘Would you please support the bill?’ And we don’t have much technology like here, but we have our small phones. So we said, ‘Why can’t we get their numbers and text them?’ So we did that. It was a good thing. So when the bill passed, we texted them back, ‘Thank you for supporting the bill.'”

This courageous and passionate young woman believes “we can end child marriage in a generation. This is the moment where a girl and a girl, and millions of girls worldwide, will be able to say, ‘I will marry when I want.'”

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Debra Searle, an inspirational adventurer

I came across Debra Searle’s story in a slightly unusual way.

I teach English to international students in Sydney and one of the listening activities was about her incredible voyage. The photos looked real, rather than invented for the textbooks, so I googled her name and was able to pull up her story and show footage of her in her boat for my students to see. Needless to say, we were all quite impressed.

Her’s is a wonderful story of unexpected strength. She and her then husband Andrew Veal, a champion rower, entered a challenge to row across the Atlantic from Tenerife in the Canary Islands to Barbados – about 3000 miles. They were the only male/female couple and Debra admitted that no-one would have seen them as rivals.

Only two days into the journey, after a violent storm they discovered two things,  ‘I absolutely loved it!’, she said in a TED Talk in 2012. The more violent it got, the more she loved it, but her husband, a champion on the river, discovered a crippling phobia of the open ocean. They called a rescue boat, and despite the potential risks and Debra’s lack of experience, she continued on her own. ‘I imagine they only sailed far enough over the horizon so I couldn’t see the mast poking up over the horizon and that they pulled the sails down and they were sat there almost looking at their watches and saying, “Bless her, let’s give her a couple of hours to try on her own and then we’ll go back and pick her up.”‘ Debra, however, believed in herself even though only three rowers had attempted the race solo before her and all three had failed.

The crossing took her 5 and a half months, avoiding tankers and turtles (potentially more dangerous to her boat that sharks) and terrible loneliness. She explains the simple techniques she used to keep her going, ‘Ok, Debs, choose your attitude!’, and it brought her safely to Barbados and a career that is now described as ‘adventurer’.

85-Action_Debra-SearleChoose Your Attitude: Debra Searle at TEDxSalford

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Decolonisation

A very interesting description of decolonisation – a process I was unaware of participating in.

Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity

As a term, decolonisation is a complicated concept to grasp. On one hand it signifies the very act of breaking free from a way of thinking, of conceptualising the world signified by oppressive power structures, that have benefited Western hegemony on behalf of the discrimination of indigenous peoples around the world. As such decolonisation represents the reclamation of lands, of languages and of the establishment of numerous self governing bodies working with and for an indigenous group from within. Decolonisation then manifests itself in a multitude of different shapes, ranging from something as simple as the reclamation of a parent’s name, to the establishment of immersion schools, to media channels operating on terms laid down by indigenous groups and ultimately to declare independence, both physically, mentally and symbolically from a colonial power.

On the other hand decolonisation as a term has been hijacked by scholars and politicians alike and is…

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