Five Questions with Nathan Bird

Nathan Bird was Indigenous X host from February 3 to February 12.

Five questions to Nathan Bird

Peace People. I’m Birdz – a proud Murri man with Badtjala, Juru, Scottish and Melanesian heritage who grew up in the small town of Katherine, N.T.

I’m a full-time rapper and part-time support worker for Link-Up Victoria, currently residing in Melbourne. When I’m not rapping or writing music, which is seldom, I do my best to support members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community across Victoria who are wanting to share their story with the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Music is my number one passion in life. I’ve had dreams of being a rap star ever since first hearing Ice Cube and NWA’s “F@!$ the Police.” I’m currently working on my debut album, which will be released in the second half of 2015.

I plan to focus on hip hop in Australia; specifically speaking on the shift in the scene I believe to be happening right now and the rise of black artists. I believe the hip hop scene in Australia is getting ready for a new voice, a new story. I hope to shed some light on artists that I believe are on the come up, as well as those that have already kicked in the door and are holding it down. Additionally I hope to share some thoughts on my brief experience as a support worker at Link-Up Victoria so far and the work I’ve been involved in regards to the current Royal Commission.
My parents. Ever since I was old enough to understand what they went through and why. They taught me to believe in my dreams and to chase them. Moreover, the memories I have of growing up and seeing them work so hard to provide a better life for my sister and I. My parents’ story still inspires me today and will no doubt continue to motivate me in the future.

Also, when I first started studying at the University of Queensland I was lucky enough to be taught by respected elder and leader in the Brisbane Murri community, Uncle Sam Watson, who I still consider a mentor, friend and someone I look up to. My cousin, Fred “Bulanyi” Leone of Impossible Odds records for all that he’s achieved and for being so active in the revitalisation of Badtjala culture – guess you could say he’s like my big brother.

Something that I have been thinking about a lot lately is diversity of opinion. Sadly I think that far too often constructive debate is disabled before it’s even had a chance to begin (eg the “Recognise” campaign). Sometimes it’s almost as if everyone has a story to tell but nobody wants to listen and we’re all clockwatching for our 15 minutes. This, I think, is something that’s applicable to all Australians. Just my thoughts anyway, it’s something I’m still working through myself to be honest…
Ideally my hopes for the future would be to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more of a say in regards to our own affairs, and not be limited to the opinions of a select few that are handpicked by the government and subsequently appointed as “experts”. Again, for our diversity to be acknowledged, heard, and above all respected.

I believe education is crucial to creating a greater understanding and will not only support the betterment of Indigenous peoples but also help move Australia forward. The knowledge is there waiting, you just have to want to find it. Ask the right questions and don’t always rely on Aboriginal people to hold your hand through it. Education doesn’t have to come from a textbook or a classroom setting either, there is so much to learn from Indigenous knowledge and the different modes of teaching within them. All Australians have a role to play in learning the truth about what’s been happening since 1788 and the sooner we genuinely and respectively engage in this process the better off we’ll all be.

I also hope to see the rise of more Indigenous owned and run businesses generating our own financial and social capital. I believe that we’ll see more Indigenous artists (of all media and genres) stepping up and taking their place in the forefront, utilising their position to empower themselves and community. Land Rights – REAL Land Rights – not Native Title.

 

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