Janine Kitson

Shapes of Australia

by Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare Books, 2017

Bronwyn Bancroft invites you to see, through her Bundjalung eyes, Australia‘s Indigenous shapes. Her artwork vividly demonstrates the way Aboriginal people have shaped the landscape for thousands of generations.

Her use of vibrant and powerful colours magnify the power of the natural world. Her beautiful illustration and poetic words are dedicated “to the unique nature and beauty of the Australian landscape”. Her shapes of Australia convey the pride and permanence that Indigenous peoples have always felt about their land.

X: A Novel

by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Candlewick Press, 2015

This powerful and inspiring adolescent novel is based on the life of one of America’s greatest civil and human rights campaigners — Malcolm X. The novel chronicles Malcolm’s disturbed youth. Young Malcolm is a clever natural leader with enormous potential but even though he excels at school he sees no future in a white world. He is mesmerised by the dark, dangerous and criminal underworld of Boston and Harlem, convinced that he is “moving on and moving up”. He soon becomes a “creature of the street”, taking on a life of gambling, drugs and pimping where “everything’s a hustle”. The book ends with his conversion to Islam and his determination to work for others who are physically, emotionally and psychologically scarred by America’s racist society.

This beautifully written novel by Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon is a brilliant insight into the corrosive power of racism, violence and poverty on innocent lives. An excellent resource into why the US civil rights movement was such a defining time for so many Americans and why, for many, America continues to be a hostile and dangerous place.

Driving Disunity: The Business Council against Aboriginal Community

by Lindy Nolan

Spirit of Eureka, 2017

Lindy Nolan’s insightful, well-researched and provocative book shines light onto how corporate Australia is driving disunity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by pushing for constitutional recognition and undermining treaty, land rights, and sovereignty.

Lindy Nolan skilfully unpicks how corporations — through the Business Council of Australia (BCA) — have infiltrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, wooed their leaders and worked against them. The BCA’s real agenda is to get hold of massive tracks of Indigenous land.

One case study she exposes is the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council’s sale of beachfront land on the Central Coast. BCA members were parachuted in to help put forward a business case on how to sell the land without environmental protections. This then became the template for other “asset sales” around the state.

Lindy Nolan’s brilliance is that she understands how capitalism works and adeptly exposes the “corporate nursery rhymes” that promise jobs, growth, wealth and social progress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities. She debunks the BCA’s propaganda about the benefits of “getting government out of the way”, giving corporations tax cuts and subsidies, cutting government social and welfare programs, and removing environmental protections. When the BCA talks about promoting small businesses, Lindy Nolan knows this is code for outsourcing, privatisation, casualisation, less secure work and lower wages. The corporate panacea to unemployment includes their mega environmentally damaging mining projects.

This book is an excellent study into the contemporary corporate takeover of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Something all Australians need to read.

All three books are all available from Federation Library.

Janine Kitson is a Federation Life Member.

Classroom Activities

Shapes of Australia

K-6 English 
Stage 1, Objective D:  Expressing Themselves          
A student: responds to and composes a range of texts about familiar aspects of the world and their own experiences.

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. Which shapes do you like best?
  2. Use your fingers to trace over the shapes on a page.  What do you learn from this?
  3. What shapes can you see around where you live?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Art work:  Make your own shapes of Australia.
  2. Write a story or poem about some of the shapes in the book.
  3. Create music/ sounds to accompany different shapes in the book and then create a dance to accompany it.

X a Novel

Modern History
Stage 6, Syllabus                                    
Option C:  Civil Rights in the USA 1945-1968

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. What do you know about Malcolm X before reading/ after reading the book?
  2. Malcolm was known by different names:  Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.  How did these names reflect different aspects of his life?
  3. How might Malcolm’s later life have influenced by his time in Harlem?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Choose 3 events from the novel and imagine you are Malcolm and write to one of the members of your family about these events.
  2. Make a summary/profile of Malcolm’s life eg:  Date of Birth;  Names of Parents;  Names of siblings;  Likes;  Place of Birth;  Homes;  Name of Friends;  Crimes;  Defining moments.
  3. Write a script about one event in Malcolm’s life based on the book and perform it.
  4. In groups research different aspects of US Black Activism history:  eg Malcolm’s father Earl Little who worked with Marcus Garvey calling for  black people to demand equal rights [page 23, 253];  impact of WW1 [page 193], the Great Depression and WW2 on Afro Americans [page 194];  history of black boxers - Boxer Joe Louis vs white boxer Jim Braddock [page 205];  history of Harlem including its music Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday and her song about lynching - ‘Strange Fruit’ [page 220-222];  Harlem’s  dance halls:  Braddock’s Hotel, Small’s Paradise, the Cotton Club, the Savoy Ballroom;  America in the 1950s:  the Drug Store with its pop-sodas and juke boxes;  Malcolm X and the Civil Rights Movement.

Driving Disunity

7 Modern History
Stage 6, Syllabus                                    
A2: Making Change: Day of Mourning to Mabo 

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. Why are land rights so important for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples?
  2. Are jobs and growth created by business the only solution to solving poverty?
  3. What are the positives and negatives about corporation involvement with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people?

Suggestions for learning activities

  1. Write a time line of key events for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  2. Draw a mind map of organisations and people involved in the Business Council of Australia.
  3. Write and present two different speeches at Garma Festival.  One is positive about corporations; the other is negative.
  4. Debate:  Treaty or Constitutional Recognition.
  5. Make a ‘4 Corners’ style TV documentary with interviews that explores the ideas that Driving Disunity presents.
  6. Research Northern Territory Intervention study.
  7. Read the Barunga Statement [page 87-88].  Make an audio reading of it.