Tasman Keith. Indigenous Australia: it’s too late to redecorate; we need to demolish the crib

Author: Tasman Keith

Originally posted on The Guardian on Wednesday 24 February 2016 16.02 AEDT.

Indigenous Australia: it’s too late to redecorate; we need to demolish the crib

I’m not going to sit here and act like I have all the answers to make that happen tomorrow, but I will sit here and tell you that I come from a place where I see the effects every day, writes Tasman Keith for @IndigenousX

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What’s up people? I go by the name of Tasman Keith, I’m a Goori man from Bowraville which is in the Gumbaynggirr Nation – my Aboriginal heritage comes from my father’s side. I also inherit bloodlines of Irish, Scottish and English from my mother’s side.

I’m a full-time musician and part-time school learning support officer at Bowraville Central. When I’m not working on music I’m helping the kids from primary and secondary with their education, which often gets sidetracked with either their questions on my music, or their questions on Aboriginal history.

Music has always been a major part of my life. I started performing when I was eight – whether it was with my father rapping or lip-synching Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean in talent quests. I found the pen at an early age and slowly realised how beautiful telling my story and having people relate truly is. As of late, I have big plans after just dropping my mixtape titled What Songs & Why? Pt1, which is my take on a bunch of classics that inspired me, mixed with a few originals.

I have had the chance to peep the game in the last few months, and along with plotting on what I can to do switch it up and what I can bring to it. There is a major thing that has been playing on my mind lately and it is how many big mouths are in the scene but really have nothing to say. It seems that when it comes down to it there are artists that are scared to upset a certain amount of their fan base, especially when it comes to black issues. Now I’m not going at everyone because there are also a lot of dope people in the scene that are down for the cause, so now that I’ve set that straight let me get into it.

  • I’ve just finished hosting IndigenousX on Twitter for the week, and I asked the simple question: “What’s your thoughts on blackface?” One person replied by saying another artist did a great job dealing with it and he thought it didn’t require his addendum. I know people like Briggs and the whole Bad Apples squad stood up for the blackface issue, yet it didn’t make me feel like my voice or anyone’s voice was no longer needed. I’m not saying that what they said wasn’t enough – I’m saying that there wasn’t enough voices saying it, or saying anything for that matter.

    I feel that when the type of music you cash in off is majorly influenced by issues and speaking up on them and you aren’t saying anything, I feel like it just shows how much you really don’t care about the actual culture itself. Which is a culture that has been able to make not only powerful people, but powerful movements for the people.

    Then there is the whole “is it my place to say something?” question. My people need all voices – along with ours – when it comes to our issues. We make up 3% of this country yet people still believe there isn’t a place for them when it comes to helping a minority speak to the majority? People believe that just because it’s a black issue, it isn’t in their lane?

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It goes way beyond just a black issue, and I feel like everybody needs to start seeing that what it comes down to is simply right and wrong. People don’t see that it not only affects our Indigenous people but also Australia as a whole. I mean sure, we will keep breaking down the doors while matters get thrown out the window but does this country really need to keep acting like the house isn’t ugly on the inside while only making sure the outside looks good? It’s too late to redecorate; we need to demolish the crib. Keep the small amount of dope things. And build anew.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I have all the answers to make that happen tomorrow, but I will sit here and tell you that I come from a place where I see the effects every day, I see the mission kids that I can heavily relate to that are finding it hard. They need a voice, they listen to American hip-hop because that’s the only voice they can relate with outside of the fair few Aboriginal artists that get that platform, and they connect with that struggle; and I think it’s time for these kids to not only have someone to relate too, but have someone that they can see and know that this is for them.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I have the numbers behind me and my music to drive my point’s home, but I will sit here and tell you that those numbers don’t mean a thing to me, and while I still sit on the bench watching the game be played a certain way. I will always continue to plot on it, so when I do get on I know what will be needed and I know what I will need to do.

As of now, its back to training for those moments. Peace and much love from the “lil grilla”, Tasman Keith.

 

“Our stories, our way” – each week, a new guest hosts the @IndigenousX Twitter account to discuss topics of interest to them as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Produced with assistance of Guardian Australia staff.

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