Five Questions with Sam Cook

Sam Cook was Indigenous X host from April 1 to April 14.

Five questions to Sam Cook

I was born in protest. Literally. I’m sure the story has gotten bigger over time but as it’s told, a young and heavily pregnant black rights activist was in the throes of resistance when the contractions kicked in. It was the 70s and the Aboriginal tent embassy in Perth, Western Australia had the black, red and gold flying loud and proud. It was such a tumultuous time. The young land rights warriors were standing up and quite often paying the price, with jail time, beatings and police brutality. Although the signs of segregation were pulled down the mind-state was still there. Racism was taking on a new head and the blacks were fighting back. Resistance was in abundance and the battles were brewing, but on 29 November 1972, the only struggle on the mind of my mother was in having to abandon the “cause” and leave the front line in time to get to the hospital.

I guess I wasn’t ready for the world as I too resisted. I was more than happy to take the passive pathway and bake a little longer, but my 7lb 11oz frame was clearly no contest against forceps and a vacuum extract. Under the duress of this 70s technology I was pulled into the world, sucked out of the safety of this womb and thrust onto the pathway that is my life. I had arrived.

A lot has changed since the 29 November 1972. For one, I’ve turned into a middle age Nyikina, my strong cultural roots grounded in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I’m also a mother of two adult future leaders, both poised on their respective journeys as they take their place in the world. What I do these days is understand who I am and my sense of power. I am very much a cultural change agent and social entrepreneur. Less than two weeks ago I was a part of a strong group of individuals who left a marker on history through the campaign to “Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities in Australia” and through the social media platforms created as #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA.

The #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA campaign to stop the forced removal of Aboriginal people from their communities, has been the community led response to the pressure points that have been inundating our communities by incumbent state and federal governments. This action was initiated on 13 March by a small group of Kimberley women and in six days we mounted a national call to action activating every state and territory in Australia. We mobilised upwards of 20,000 people on the streets and led a virtual campaign that has reached everyone from Angela Davis to Hugh Jackman to the Australian union movement, AFL footballers and bilateral support politically.

The online virtual protest is still raging and in 18 days we have just under 50,000 on our Facebook page alone, with a reach of over 1 million. Artists have written songs, painted works and are documenting this through their writings. Protests are being held internationally in Canada, UK, New Zealand and Europe to support this. We made history and have mobilised the country while shining light on Australia globally.

I’ll be tweeting about the stories and people behind this, as well as our upcoming plans to launch the biggest humanitarian effort for Aboriginal Australia, by Aboriginal Australia.

My role models are all the elders and community members who have tirelessly remained strong in their determination of their rights and self-determination. 
Coming from the arts and entertainment industry, my main focus has been on the development of creative expression and affirming the rightful place of arts as central to society. I have led a major Aboriginal theatre company and was at the helm of the biggest international Indigenous festival in the world. I’m now focused on my own practise and events as a producer.

I’m also interested in hidden history and was the founder of Australia’s Blak History Month in 2008. We unearth 31 profiles a year on each day over July which celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heroes who have been forgotten in the Australian narrative. I’ve now launched this history into a DJ + VJ project titled BLAK WAX which opens the vault of Aboriginal Australia and takes it to the masses.

I have a commitment to my personal 200 year plan, which means I am already thinking beyond my mortality to leave a legacy for my descendants and community. As an ancestor in training, my commitment to the future is to ensure that our people maintain their ties and sovereign rights to their own countries and that we continue to honour our time along our cultural continuum that keeps our people strong. 

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