Tag Archives: Anita Heiss

Dancing with Speeches #4 MLK

This week’s speech inspired by Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C, USA.

I am not from the US, I have no right to speak on their behalf, yet the #BlackLivesMatter campaign is ringing in my ears and on my screens it is shaking me up. It is helping me reconnect with my activism. It is sending a message home to my core. #BlackLivesMatter is rebuilding the black liberation movement in the USA and around the world.    is an affirmation and embrace of the resistance and resilience of Black people, founded by

Where we had Charlie Perkins in Australia riding in the freedom run we now have Luke Pearson making strides in the media with IndigenousX, where we had Kath Walker claim her space as poet and her name as Oodgeroo Noonuccal, we have Dr Antia Heiss asking us Am I Black Enough for You? The strains of Yothu Yindi dancing our way into our hearts with Treaty is still part of the soundtrack for action. Dr Gregory Phillips is healing us all as we find the steps towards healing the deepest wounds of the lies of the past and what we need to do to save ourselves and our planet. So I want to stand still and bow to all those leaders and say thank you for teaching me, a white woman, and now taught, my job is to stand in solidarity, to speak up and to invoke the call #blacklivesmatter.

The great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, said he refused to believe the bank of justice is bankrupt. As a non black person I have the responsibility to make deposits into this bank, and even more responsibility to not make withdrawals with my own racism. I need to make deposits to bring equity and make this bank balance grow with interest! My acts should be a sign for others to follow.

There is urgency today as real as it was in the 60s. Children are dying in the streets, mothers are losing their babies, communities are losing their men, we are all losing the talents and gifts of those who fall to drugs, alcohol, violence and preventable diseases. In MLK’s words, the place for the struggle is on the “highest plane of dignity and discipline” and “rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force”.

How do you bring your soul force to the liberation movement? Just like the warrior before battle prepares with exercise and study of the plan, gets to know the enemy and readiness themselves for being wounded and even potentially death. The soul force needs to be fostered to grow strong. The preparation, the plan, the readiness to be knocked down and to get up again is true for all of those who take the nonviolent path. For what is the antonym of warrior? Is it peacemaker? Is it civilian? Is it liberator? Or is it that warriors of the liberation movement are nonviolent activists who recognize the battle fields of policy, of programs, on the streets, in the supermarkets, in the carriages of the trains? The war on equity is everywhere and we are all bound up in it. I live on land that was stolen. I make my home in a landscape where I don’t know its language. I take colonization as a given.

Just as MLK called for the sounds of freedom to be heard from every mountain top, I take tentative steps to build my soul force from the trills and squawks of the birds offering sounds of freedom to be ringing out across this country. The tweets come in new forms and are accompanied with a hashtag #blacklivesmatter and the work to get to that mountain top ‘ain’t done yet!

We are the ones who will make the rough paths smooth, the crooked ways straight and the valleys exalted. The soul force pays attention to our own rough paths, our own crooked ways and our own valleys of despair, darkness and inequity and rises up to the mountain top and bring others with us so we can all get to that mountain top together and leave no one behind. When we stand on that mountain top and see the “oasis of freedom and justice” we will have dealt with sweltering heat of injustice and oppression. In this dreaming we will understand we are owned by Mother Earth and the mountain is holding us up and learnt this from the ones who knew this truth first.

It is then, and only then and because #blacklivesmatter, we will all be truly free, free at last and be able to sing as one voice Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! 



Hildegard Does Chick Lit

IMG-20120416-00928Lesson from Anita Heiss

I recently won, courtesy of the SA Writers Centre a place at an Anita Heiss writers workshop.

Anita is a stunning woman – a force of nature. I think she and Hildegard would have been very happy having a conversation in the garden chatting about all kinds of things – dispossession, power plays, what sets women’s hearts on fire and how to be influential in a whole range of media. After the workshop I wondered: What kind of chick lit would Hildegard have written?

A love affair in the cloister? A young novice falling for a visiting Bishop to fuel her ambition to become Abbess?
How about a visitor on retreat in the Convent who turns out to be the Pope and who falls in love with her?
Maybe she could write a crime novel where one of her recipes was used to poison an unwelcome visitor sent from Rome to close down the convent?

Hildegard was such a prolific writer and she certainly was full of feminine advice on everything from orgasms to property management.

It has got me thinking about either writing a chick lit novel in Hildegard’s voice or one set in her Abbey.

Here are a few early ideas – let me know what you think.

Our heroine Hildegard of Bingen receives a young and ambitious Gunther. Gunther is the youngest curate to come to the Abbey and he is keen to ensure the Abbess will not get in the way of his plans to be Bishop one day. He knows her poewre and influence throughout the Rhine and if he wants to get ahead he will need to have her respect but more than that access to the land and produce she rules over. Bon decides to ask the Abbess for her blessing to give instruction on the sacraments to the novices at the convent. Hildegard agrees but it must be under her tutelage and must begin with an 8 day silent retreat. Bon agrees and sees this as a wonderful opportunity to prove his worth. There are eight novices he will be instructing. On the first day of the retreat he begins with Mass and the reading of the day includes the Scripture When the bridegroom comes; As the novices come to receive communion from him one by one he looks into their eyes fairly and squarely and says Body of Christ; the fifth woman, unlike the four before her who close their eyes and put out their tongue to receive the holy and blessed bread, this one simply smiles and winks at him and then puts out her tongue – he is totally disarmed and for the remaining days and nights of the retreat his ambitions are challenged and the fifth novice quest to get Bon to question his vocation is set. The fifth novice is Gisela of Rudesheim – she is a force of nature. Strong, beautiful, dark hair and dark eyes – though you can’t see any hair through her wimple and veil, Gunther swears she leaves a single strand every day not completely tucked in – a most flirtaeous act. Gisela has no intention not to be a Bride of Christ, but she does fully intend to see just how far she can go before she takes her final vows and is resigned to the charity and silence of the walled village that is the convent on the Rhine. Gisela is the youngest of ten children, something she and Hildegard share, but unlike Hildegard she was not given to the church, she freely chose to join the convent – in fact against her parents wishes. Her family ran a boat business and took goods up and down the Rhine, she had six brothers and was the only girl to survive and while the family were guaranteed heirs and grandchildren, Gisela’s family were hoping she would be the one to look after them in their old age as the boys would not be able to do that. Gisela had no intention on waiting on any man, even if it was her father or brother, and even if it was a priest! She only wanted to serve the mission of her God to support Hildegard in her work and bring land justice to the valley. Every week young women like her were wanting to join the convent and she thought it would be fun to be independent from all earthly men. But when she winked at the young Father Gunther she knew that her choice of the cloister might be in trouble.

Would love to hear your thoughts …