Five Questions with Luke Pearson

Luke Pearson was Indigenous X host from August 3 August 12.

When I started my media project on Twitter almost six years ago I was content to ask newspapers to stop writing Indigenous with a lower case “i”, or to stop using “Aborigines”, or to ask Google Australia to take “Aboriginal jokes” out of their suggested search algorithm.

The last campaign was won years ago (thanks to Google for that) but we are still waiting for all Australian newspapers to step up on the first two. I am not really interested in asking for it anymore.

In these past six years, we have seen more Indigenous people making their mark in opinion writing for various news organisations, including Guardian Australia. And my media project IndigenousX now boasts a weekly column, which is something I wouldn’t have imagined when I started it just over three years ago.

The column, in which IndigenousX hosts talk about their projects and passions, is something I am very proud of and grateful for.

But there is something still missing from the national media landscape: an independent, Indigenous-owned-and-operated media platform.

This is the goal I have set my sights on for IndigenousX. We won’t be limited to articles and stories but will create multimedia opportunities as well: print, audio, and video.

We will run our own public awareness campaigns; create our own resources, like our first IndigenousX anthology of 22 Indigenous writers, due for release in October. We’ll run our own events that not only have Indigenous people on the stage, but behind the scenes as well.

I’m not just trying to prove a point. We have some amazingly talented Indigenous individuals who are capable of producing some of the best media in the country, and internationally as well.

Neither is it an act of charity. I don’t want people to consume our media because they feel bad for all the statistics that haunt us, or to send a message about the racism that is still rife in mainstream media.

I want to do it, and I want people to support it, because it will be excellent: that’s what the X in IndigenousX stands for.

Starting an Indigenous-owned-and-operated media platform is not an act of separatism but an act of self-determination. It is not about telling non-Indigenous Australians that I don’t want anything to do with them, it is about telling Indigenous Australians that I know what we are capable of, what amazing work people are already doing.

I want to create a hub to showcase that excellence, and to pay people the industry standard for their work. Because closing the gap also means closing the pay gap, which exists along Indigenous and non-Indigenous lines as well as gender.

I want to create a safe and respectful workplace of collaboration. I want to foster a culture in which the voices of our content creators are not silenced or watered down through the editorial process, but where they feel their voices are being enhanced and strengthened by it.

I want to influence the mainstream media not by tweeting at them to lift their game, or by pleading with them to please show enough respect to use capital letters for our proper nouns, but by raising the bar of expectations within our audience and create new standards of best practice.

I don’t expect us to achieve this overnight, and I don’t expect us to always be perfect. No one is. But I expect us to aspire towards excellence, and towards what many Indigenous professionals inherently understand as best practice: nothing about us without us.

Imagine how you would feel if this story was about you, your mob, your community. Don’t water down the content if you don’t think the audience will understand, challenge them to raise their understanding. Accept when you make a mistake, do what you can to make it right, and don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

One of my favourite quotes is from Dr Charles Perkins: “We live off the crumbs that fall off the white Australian tables and are told to be grateful.”

I am tired of living off crumbs. I am tired of asking for a seat at the table. I want our own table. An IndigenousX table.

This is why I have started a crowdfunder to try to raise $250,000 to give us the time and the opportunity to explore ways which we can make IndigenousX stronger, and last longer, than any of us individually.

If we just spend that money it will soon disappear, but if we invest that money in developing great content, and in the right infrastructure, it can help us create a strong, sustainable, independent Indigenous media platform.

This has been my dream for a long time, but more recently it has become my goal, and it is one that I know a lot of other people share with me.

Another favourite quote comes from a collective of Aboriginal voices: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.”

So, let us work together on this goal, and let’s see what we can achieve.

You can support the crowdfunding effort for IndigenousX here: startsomegood.com/IndigenousX

 

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