Monday, January 04, 2016

2015: Acknowledgements

[The larger part of me is still afraid to bring any of what I experienced upon another, let alone the people I love, so I cannot name you. It is still important to acknowledge you, however. If you find yourself in this, then it was meant for you. I apologise now if you think you should be here but find that you aren't. I've tried to encompass all, but I doubt that's possible. I've lost my voice and my ability to brain confidently.]

Thank you for giving me a home that has always been open to me, whether I be child or adult. That sanctuary is not something to be taken for granted, and simply knowing it to be there has always given me strength. Thank you for being proud of me, though my unorthodox life choices have caused no end of worry, and for relishing in my strange accomplishments and adventures. Thank you for growing in me a sense of self determination and responsibility. Thank you for never doubting me. Thank you for making me someone who could do what I did and survive.

Thank you for opening your home to me, and letting it become a home for me. Thank you for letting me be a useless wreck and feeding me and nourishing me with your glorious cooking and house full of goofy laughing. Thank you for finding me, amid all the trauma and mental catastrophes, and showing me that I was still there.

Thank you for saltwater and sunshine, for sitting in quiet over avocado on toast and for squealing about big blue gropers and squid. You made it easy for me to step out the front door when it was at its hardest, because I knew you were at the end. Thank you for curling up with me on the couch and watching terrible telly. Thank you for being a safe place.

Thank you for your wonderful, luscious and vigorous conversations. I always felt safe drifting into rougher waters with you, because that grace of spirit that comes so naturally to you will see a smoother navigation than I in my mind. You are an inspiration of kindness and gentleness, two things I crave but find so wanting within myself. From your patience, I find patience. Thank you.

Thank you for being the cavalry. You amazon warrior valkyrie. You and that happy-maker I still have not met saved me. Saved us. For that, you will always have my love and loyalty, my door will always be open, and, and, there is no way I will ever be able to repay you. I know you don't expect or want repayment, but. Thank you. I hope you are never in such dire straits as to need cavalry, not ever. However, even if never called upon, this cavalry stands by solely to rescue you. Thank you.

Thank you for finding time for me when you can barely find time for yourself. You've always soothed this howling heart. You're a beautiful constant in my haphazard life.

Thank you for being so understanding. You listened, and gave me what I needed to continue as long as I could, and it is only because of you that I lasted that long. I doubt I'll meet another your peer for a long time.

Thank you, the staff at Coogee Medical, Equilibrium Psychology and Spiral Medical, for handling this shattered wreck with care, and making sure I survived the worst of it. I honestly don't know how I would have managed if I'd been put off at any point by a brusque encounter or indifference, such a damaged thing I was. Thank you.

Thank you for that phone call. You grounded me in the storm and showed me how to see the way forward. Thank you for laughing. Thank you for being the first person out there to say "You can do this."

Thank you, neighbourhood. for being so softly suburban, so muted and quiet. Thank you for rolling out great swathes of silence in the deep night, silences so vast I can hear the sweep of the night birds as their feathers tear the air. Thank you, home, for just not being right on top of a major traffic and pedestrian interchange, including buses, and seriously heaps of pedestrians, and look, if you're ever considering renting the flat above Oporto in Coogee? Just say no. Between the Pav turfing out its clientele at closing time and the 4am street sweeper you'll get maybe a couple of hours unbroken sleep a night. The texture of overgrown gardens and lawns, and greyed wooden fences, and lichen on tiles, and powerlines through trees, and a train in the distance, a car passes nearby, somewhere a door slams, and this is a soundscape in which I can exist. Thank you.

Thank you for being my friends. I thought I was lucky before all that happened, because I had to be lucky for having so many incredible and awesome people in my life. I don't really know what word is appropriate now. 'Blessed' perhaps, although I'm not religious, but the idea that it is a gift, and a divine gift. You are a fortress around my heart, and when it seemed all the pestilence of the internet was spitting at me, you just kept on being you, kept on being beautiful, kept on being in my life and telling me that I was worth having around as well. I love and am loved by you and not all the bile in the world can touch that. You are treasures no one can steal. I don't know what I've done to deserve you in my life and I don't care, I'm just glad that you're here, and you still choose to be here, and as long as you're here, I can't be that broken. It does one no good to rely on external validation, but I can't say there's any real belief in the internal validation I present myself. You've given me in so many words and acts undeniable proof that awesome people do not share my opinion of me, and see something here worth waiting for. I don't trust myself in the slightest, but you haven't changed. I trust you with me.

Thank you, new friends, who have seen something worth hanging onto amid all the breaking down I've done this year. This is a greater compliment than you realise, and it is very much appreciated.

Thank you for not telling people that I'm the person who did the thing. Thank you for letting me be unremarkable.

Thank you for being wonderful upon finding out I was the person who did the thing. I've lived in fear, waiting for someone to find out and have a go at me in person, so I really haven't let many new people in on it. You who do know, though, you're ace.

Thank you for that text message, DM, private message, email. Even if I didn't reply to it, I saw it, and it probably made me cry, because every grain of kindness, love and support given to me has been a precious thing. I have kept them all. I know I've been a dead end this year, there have been so many missives I just haven't been able to answer. I am sorry. Thank you. They meant and still mean much.

Thank you for the invitation, and for the fact that you keep inviting me, even though I barely pretend I'm going to attend. It's not for disinterest. Combination fibromyalgia, major depression, social anxiety and trauma echoes mean I just can't face people. It's definitely not you. I want to be living my best life, which includes turning up to help you celebrate that which deserves celebrating. One day, I hope to do this, and thank you for inviting me in person.

Thank you for sitting with me over a cup of tea and letting the conversation go where it may. Thank you for sitting with me in silence. Thank you for giving me your time and your company. I don't know that my own quality of company is worth your time at the moment, so your time is a greater gift for it.

Thank you to all the retail, hospitality and customer service staff who have just done their job with a friendly smile. Social anxiety means your smile is a life buoy. Thank you to all those too who have let me wander through unaccosted and unnoticed.

Thank you for all the support. All of it. I don't think I got to see even a percentage of what rushed by, and what I saw was as vast as only the internet can be. The long tail of trolls did its damage to me, but you, you're a voice that far outnumbered them. I can say that with certainty. Vile and loud as they were, there was always more than us than there were of them. In a weird way, this thing that completely destroyed me, has reminded me of what hope tastes like.

Thank you for asking me to take part in research, to be interviewed for projects. I'm sorry I've not been able to accept any of these invitations. The fact is, I just haven't had enough therapy. All these projects and dissertations are tasty, however, and I've started to see bits and pieces of research findings surface. This podcast does a great job of breaking down how hate speech affects social spaces, and ends on a comment that- It seems arrogant to believe because so many others have been doing hard work for so long, but if it is true, even just a little bit, then. I think it all might have been worth it. One day, I'll be able to give you what you want of me, and I'll be excited to contribute. Thank you for keeping on with the good work.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to prove myself. It is an honour and the work is so important I don't feel worthy, but I could not let go for the world now. This has become a rich vein of joy and satisfaction in my life, and the chance to prove myself to myself is very much appreciated. One day, I may have confidence again, and I'm certain it will grow from these small tasks. Thank you for trusting me with this, and for sharing so many wonderful stories with me. Thank you for letting me be a small cog in a good machine.

Thank you. You've born the brunt of my breaking, which has been a process of interminable hours strung together in endless months. You've seen the worst of me come out as the best of me fell away, and yet you still reach for my hand in your sleep. I am so sorry. Thank you. I've said these words so often I don't know if they mean anything anymore. I don't know what I am anymore, but I know that we remain, because you still choose us. Thank you.

I didn't get through last year on my own steam. I made it because of you. Thank you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wine - alcohol in general - has never been a taste I've acquired, and so I cannot compare the silence to wine, nor murmur of how I drink it like wine and sigh with satisfaction. Having basked in this for a month now, I still notice that wondrous, lustrous silence. I've never prayed, and so do not know how to give thanks for the soft texture of the night and the great dimensions it governs, for there is a depth that can only be found in a silence that spans topography, in which a car door, the call of a sleep-startled bird can be heard across the valley. This emptiness and stillness is a treasure the likes of which I may never take for granted, and shall forever be of a value for which there is no number large enough to encapsulate. The grunt and tick of hard drives, the wheeze of the fridge, the sound of gutters shifting in the wind, my hair rustling against the pillow, the sound of my breath in my throat, once again I can hear the pulse of blood, my blood, my pulse. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I'll Walk With You

Over at Book View Cafe, Vonda N. McIntyre has put forth the idea "I'll Walk With You".

I’m distressed to see that some folks who were planning to come to Sasquan are thinking of skipping Worldcon this year. 
Because they’re frightened. 
I understand why people are frightened, given the racist, misogynistic, and dishonest screeds they’ve been subjected to. It isn’t — alas — unusual for verbal abuse to escalate into physical abuse; and anyway verbal abuse is no fun to begin with. 
But I was thinking about what might help counterbalance the situation. 
Have you seen news reports of people responding to threats against a particular group by offering “I’ll ride with you”? Here’s the first Google hit off that phrase: 
I will walk with you at Worldcon.

Finances being what they are, I won't be attending any of the large US/UK conventions this year, thus there is no decision for me to make. However, if money were no obstacle, what with PuppyGate and Vox Day continuing to be exactly what he is and the general climate of the SF&F publishing scene...I'm not sure if I want to attend. 

So I'm pleased to see #illridewithyou translated into the con-going crowd, with other Worldcon attendees offering to walk with anyone who doesn't feel confident roaming around the con. The culture of ribbons and badges is an already set up means for advertising this, and I've seen mention of formal organisation by the con organisers. What with more and more conventions implementing and enforcing anti-harassment policies, I hope this is another step toward making the convention scene less threatening and intimidating.

It's actually wonderful to see this without being directly involved. #illridewithyou will always draw an intense and rather complex emotional reaction from me, and I suspect it will be some time before I can write about it coherently (just composing this post has been difficult, and it isn't even that great a post). This I can view as someone offering to stand with me. Even though I am not attending and don't know most of the people stepping up in the comments, just seeing how many and how quickly people have volunteered for this is a warm ribbon around my heart. Visible and unconditional solidarity matters, it really does. I cannot speak for anyone else, but knowing this has started matters to me.

Once again, this doesn't have to be about the privileged being white knight for the oppressed. Those who feel threatened by what is going on in the scene, by the culture and climate of the world we live in and the fact that the bigots seem to be getting desperate and dangerous in their resistance to change; remember that you are not helpless, nor do you need physical prowess or the right gender or skin colour to act of your own agency. 

I created #illridewithyou as a non-white woman who learned of another non-white woman aiding a third non-white woman. 

The solidarity and support of allies matters, but needn't be waited upon. If I could attend, I would put my hand up too, advertise my presence, and just be visible. For my sake, and for all others who feel the threat and encroaching silence.

I might have created the hashtag, and I might be one of many grains of sand on the SF&F beach, but right now I'm not the person to seed this idea on this beach. Thank you, Vonda, for taking that first step.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hey! A Good Thing!

Before the hashtag, there was 'Acception'.

'Acception' was solicited by Gillian Polack, who was specifically hunting stories dealing with cultural baggage. Being equal parts immigrant and coloniser in a colonised land, it was very much a theme close to my heart. 

I honestly don't remember how the story transitioned from a partial drafs with all the excitement of a damp hanky to the version that went to print. In fact, I don't really remember writing this story at all. I edited it. It required (and because writers can never let alone I think it still requires) editing. Perhaps it is what others mean when they say a story came through them; not from them.

Baggage has had a turbulent life as a book, and after much heartbreak and man obstacles, it has finally returned.

The Post-Hashtag audience may be amused to know that the story I wrote takes place during the coming revolution, which takes place in Melbourne, the protagonist of which is Tessa Kum. Yeah, I really did that. Hero Complex out the wooza except not really.

The Before-Hashtag audience I daresay may be relieved that the hashtag didn't pan out like the story did. Funny. Even after all these years, this story is still precious to me. I'm not sure I could or even would write that narrative again, but being written I find myself returning to it. Perhaps because the story says something I needed to hear, and still need to hear.

There are also some marvellous pieces in this collection. Stand outs for me are the stories by KJ Bishop, Yaritji Green and Monica Carroll. Excellent tasty stuff. 

Baggage can be bought as paperback or ebook.

For that matter, 'The Fate of All Wens' is available as an ebook together with 'By the Moon's Good Grace' by Kirstyn McDermott in Volume 12: Issue 3 of the Review of Australian Fiction. McDermott's story is current shortlisted for a Ditmar, so you don't just have to take my word for it when I say it is an incredible, powerful piece of work. $2.99AUD for two stories is pretty excellent. That's less than a fancy cup of tea and you get owlbears and wolves and all sorts of lovely words and images and perhaps some not so lovely ones too, all of them so worthwhile.

Tangentially, the Triumvirate over at the Galactic Suburbia podcast have named myself as well as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu tie winners for the Julia Gillard Award of sort of general feminist badassery. The Galactic Surburbia award for activism in SFF goes to Sofia Samatar for her awesome acceptance speech calling out the elephant in the roof: Lovecraft's unfortunate head.

The Julia Gillard Award was named after former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in particular for this speech:

Which, look. She had some abhorrent policies, but this remains for me the greatest use parliamentary speech time EVER. 

Am honoured to be a grasshopper amongst giants, am honoured to accept anything in the name of this speech.

One person is not a movement. One person plus one person plus one person... and we are heard. This recognition is for everyone who reached out and took part. Carry on being awesome. 

Monday, February 09, 2015


I knew I had to let those last two posts stand for a while, without speaking over the top of them, so I did. Then I thought the usual recap/new years post would be a good way back in. Now it's February.

Swift acclimatisation is no longer one of my skills. The past year felt like the whirlwind dance of the unbalanced; reacting, correcting, overcorrecting, reacting, reacting, reacting. Then blindsided. I think, maybe, possibly, now the fall has ended. The bounce, the settling of all my pieces as gravity has its way, and it will have its way. Things have stopped moving, but I don't yet have my bearings. Disorientated. Echoes of vertigo. Nothing is moving but the storm inside this teacup.

Developing chronic illness means your days become filled with demonstrations of all your limitations. As the levels of ability and functionality you took for granted are stripped away, so too does your world become smaller. Examples of what you cannot do are presented one after another after another. That is the effect – not side effect, the effect – of chronic illness.

It has been near impossible for me to keep this thought from tripping over the edge and into seeing my illness as proof of my own personal failings. For years I have struggled to accept the stiflingly close horizons of my illness. Being better than I was does not mean I am yet anywhere near acceptance.

Illness has robbed me of many memories, but not how it felt to take mobility and endurance and clarity for granted. My muscles and sinew remember. My brain remembers. I have not become smaller at all, but anything that could be called a resource has been drained. I could be full of health, but I am hollow.

And this fucking hashtag, it just threw all this in my face with all the subtlety of an asteroid. In the Pre-Hashtag Era, I thought I understood the pain of saying, "I cannot." It took a while to surface what with all the abuse and hate and attention, this tired old dilemma trying to be something new. It is not, in fact, a dilemma at all.

The part of me that always wanted to be a revolutionary or go on a great and epic quest for the fate of the world has been screaming, shrieking and shrill, that I must go! Get out there! I've made a difference and it isn't change but it's not nothing and this is an opportunity that you cannot engineer and will never happen again and just fucking pull yourself together and launch.

Because I'm a sucker and an idealist and an angry minority and I've had a taste of power, and the potential was-


-well. If you know it then you know it.

I could see change in that. Actual change. Infinitesimal, but change.

I want change. So bad. To bring it about with my own hands I wouldn't even stop to consider. Not a doubt. Not a moment.


I cannot.

I want to, and, I cannot. This is my reality, and there's no amount of "You just gotta believe!" that will alter anything. Even if I do not accept my illness, I have years of practice at recognising my limitations when I come charging up at them. None of us believe we will ever be that hero making all right with the world, but then, I don't know that many of us are presented with opportunities to do so either.

It was never going to happen, so I have lost nothing.

But now I know, and my daydreams aren't as extravagant as they used to be. This is a learning that hurts, and even as it hurts, still I look at that wilting opportunity and long for the what if...

Nothing has changed. I am still an undisciplined and intermittent writer on a part-time income due to chronic illness. This is still a personal blog. It started with inane trivialities of my life, evolved into a rather entertaining playground, and has lately been a sandbox for sorting out my thoughts. This visibility will no doubt cause its nature to evolve again. There are no plans to open comments again, for starters. I've not the spoons to moderate, nor much desire to give the haters another channel.

Whatever I choose to do with this space, it is personal. It is for frivolity and whimsy as much as the weight of the world. I write for myself, and specifically regarding this blog, I do not wish to fall into the trap of writing for a perceived audience. I am a writer. This is writing. Nothing has changed. This is as it always was. My online activities may be more cautious, but only for my own sake. I must not become a persona. I must not perform for a perceived audience. Just think, and write.

Tessa, stop justifying yourself.

This is my space.

It is good to have it back.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

#illridewithyou Redux

For being the creator of the #illridewithyou hashtag I am copping abuse for being:

  • white 
  • not white 
  • PoC 
  • not PoC 

Read that a couple of times.

Now read it again.

Once more.

It doesn't get any less fucked up the longer you think about it.

A lovely couple gave me some incredibly elegant flowers. I didn't have a vase to do them justice (don't really have the house to do them justice), and when they bloomed, it just seemed that the thing to do was lay them in Martin Place.

Then it occurred to me that there are at least two current memorials in Martin Place - for the siege and the Peshawar school children - and that if I were to ever mention I'd considered this, there would be demands to know which memorial these flowers were laid at, and that no matter which memorial, people were going to use that as ammo to keep up the abuse.

And people wonder why sometimes I get fed up.

I'm biracial, specifically, I'm English/White Australian and Chinese-Malaysian. What this means is that I am all four of the above accusations at the same time. All the time. Every day. Whether I'm accidentally spawning global grassroots activism, looking sadly at those last two sheets left on the toilet roll or sending professional sounding correspondence for work; I am all of these things. It's complicated.

Much of the criticism I've seen hinges on the assumption that I'm either white or non-white. This being Australia, I am specifically framing this in terms of whiteness. The fact that the conversation has already tripped over this misguided binary dichotomy before even the first step indicates that the problem of racism is so deep in Australia, in the western world, we'll need to raise a generation of fact-checkers before we can develop critical thinkers and even get past the derailing question of exactly whose voice is valid.

A mutable identity means that the privileges and oppressions granted me are fluid and constantly changing. They're influenced by how suntanned I am, what angle the light is coming from, the people I'm standing next to, whether someone is too caught up in what is proper to just deal with my most bodacious family name, and so on. I occupy the positions of both oppressor and oppressed, at the same time. When I say it's complicated, it's because I never stop having to wrangle this. It isn't only the white-dominated conversations that fail to take this into account. Much of what is discussed among non-whites leaves biracials standing in the kitchen doorway, looking at the party, and not quite seeing a space to step into. Biracials are not uncommon. I am not unique. Inconvenient perhaps, but not unique.

I've no interest in addressing the people who weren't listening and haven't been listening for longer than this. The racists who responded by simply continuing to be racist aren't a surprise, and I don't have much to say to them. They're not actually that many, just loud, and getting increasingly frantic because the audience they assumed they had, they don't. That the Far Right have worked themselves up into such a frothing tizzy about little ol' me and a hashtag is pretty amusing. It's almost as though they think I have power.

Nope. Still just me and a hashtag.

Apparently, here and now, that is power.


All this bigotry is pointed at me, but not about me. Evidence of this can be found in the lack of basic fact checking which would trump the crimes I'm accused of, because they're not actually interested in being accurate with their attacks, just as long as they land a blow. I was just the next target to pop up, and I'm not listening to them, although I do have to wonder how it would be to have a reading comprehension level which ensures you take everything you read literally. That must be a strange world to live in.

Anyway. The allies and progressives, the people who have put their hand up as wanting to see social and cultural change; it's the criticism stemming from these quarters which is relevant. My last blog post assured many with legitimate doubts, but not all. I'm writing this post now to give the conversation a kick in the pants.

This act, offer, invitation, this hashtag, this idea well has the potential to become a patronising pile of oppressors coming to the rescue of those they're oppressing and patting themselves on the back for saving the poor Othered masses. It most certainly does, and being as no one owns the action of another, in the hands of many this is exactly what it will be. If you see any individual falling into this behaviour, you are welcome to call them on it. White knighting is simply another - far more insidious - face of racism. I recognise this because, again, I occupy the positions of both oppressor and oppressed.

#illridewithyou began because a non-white woman learned of another non-white woman helping out a third woman garbed in hijab.

There will be the appeasement of white guilt in the hashtag's lifecycle, but there sure as fuck wasn't any in its creation. I created it because I understand what it's like to be scared. I am 5"3' with rosy cheeks and a cute button nose, and not bodyguard material. If someone shapes up, I'm not running, but I'm not going to come out on top either.

This is centered on the victims of abuse, not the perpetrators. Our culture leaves victims to fend for themselves, and our justice system quite frankly shits all over them, and doesn't apologise for it. Victim blaming is a disgusting behaviour Australia practices both overtly and unconsciously. Justice is blind in order to treat everyone equally, and in doing so treats no one fairly. I can't stop violent abusive bigots from being violent, abusive, or existing. That's not something in my power to address. Victims, though, people worried, scared, hurt and hurting; this is within my power.

When an idea for cultural change is proposed by a non-white person, it is mostly ignored. That's why things are they way they are, because the oppressed have been agitating for reform for centuries, yet here and now the country we live in is sick.

When an idea for cultural change is proposed by a white person, it is shouted down as being yet another act of white knighting, regardless of who else is involved, and usually it is.

I am both of these things. I am the person who should not be speaking according to both sides of the conversation, and simultaneously the person who should be.

This makes me wonder whom amongst us is permitted to enact change. From whom is change acceptable. Whatever this rare unicorn of a racial identity it is, I'm unaware of it. I'm inclined to think it doesn't exist. Which further makes me wonder how change can be expected to come about at all.

Stories have reached me of people who have been assaulted for volunteering in #illridewithyou. I'm not going to say more than that or point out any examples, because assault is traumatic enough without all you haters suddenly popping up and being gross. To those of you who have been hurt; I am sorry for my part in this, and hope you have good people around you. It's okay to not be okay when you've been assaulted.

The hashtag didn't create bigotry. It simply turned turned up the volume on those who care. As a consequence, the bigots will and have upped their game, as though western society is in some sort of arms race between bigotry and compassion. You riders, to stand beside someone under fire is to also come under that fire. It's okay to be afraid and hesitant to step up. This world is scary. Non-white people know this, and cannot opt out. Riders will always have a choice whether to make the offer or not. That choice is the difference between the privileged and oppressed. It's not something to be ashamed of, it simply is what it is. Non-white people do not deserve the abuse and hate aimed at them, and if you step up, no matter who you are, neither will you. It will happen none the less. You know where your limits lie. Please remember to respect them as well.

Stories have reached me of bigots being shut the fuck down as a result of #illridewithyou. A taxi driver told my partner that a school friend of his daughter, who wears a headscarf, had a bus load of people move and sit with and around her when a bigot started having a go. The incident on the Upfield/Craigieburn line has been well reported. A friend coming through Sydney airport told me that an entire line of people waiting at the taxi rank shut down an angry, belligerent, self-entitled man harassing the curb management, who are usually non-white persons. Thousands of badges and stickers handed out. A community bike ride from Lakemba to Martin Place. Muslims from around the world reaching out to say thank you, thank you, thank you, because these things have gone without saying so long, no one believes them to be true, and now #illridewithyou needs to be said.

These are just the precious scraps that make it through the cacophony of bigots shrieking like spoilt children who don't want to share their toys. There is so much more happening out there, because no one needs to make a big show of taking on this idea. They're just going ahead and doing it. There are people who, upon realising that this is an act open to them, don't wait for permission to start; they just get down to business.

Word has reached me of a woman allegedly assaulted by a Muslim taxi driver. Her husband being some prominent chap is trying to do that reverse-racism thing, indicating this happened because no one would ride with her. I'm presuming he means because she is a white person. This is a derailment of another important conversation about which I also have plenty of loud things to say, as it's trying to imply she was assaulted for her skin tone, and not the fact she is a woman. I'm angry that she has been assaulted, and hope she is okay, and with good people around her.

Women know about street harassment and the threat of attack from the random male public. All women, regardless of race. Street harassment is only just beginning to get the attention it should. You don't have to believe it. Women know the way this horseshit works, and learn from a very early age. As I write this, news of the shooting in NYC is breaking. All the focus is on the two officers who were shot. The shooter's girlfriend, who was also shot, is given in all the articles I've seen at most a sentence, but usually just a clause. This society does not value women, and so their deaths are deemed unworthy of attention. Violence by men, misogyny and sexism form another, simultaneous, sickness in our culture. Both these conversations need to occur, and their points of intersection recognised.

What is lacking from the Basic 101 is nuance. None of us live in a vacuum and nothing occurs in isolation. I've said multiple times that I don't see this idea as being applicable to Muslims only. Anyone with a visible cultural identity stands to be a target when in public. Anyone with skin that isn't white; anyone who isn't a cis heterosexual man, which includes all women, regardless of their sexuality or chosen gender, and any man who is not cis heterosexual, and all the queer and trans and varied orientations and genders one can be; anyone wearing religious garb, even those considered 'safe' - cooing over how adorable Buddhist monks are in their robes and creepshotting them is another form of othering; anyone who is visibly differently-abled, disabled, with invisible syndromes, complexes and illnesses; any one who visibly does not conform to the narrow-ass view of what is considered 'okay' by this society. Women, regardless of their background and identity, are able to use #illridewithyou to buddy up just as much as the religious are.

Perhaps that's another reason for the naysayers. I'm not a man, and no men were involved or consulted in the creating of this. Subconscious dismissal of women's voices is real. If you doubt me feel free to do some research and educate yourself. It'll actually reveal a lot about social communication which is just plain interesting.

That said, if this idea had come from a man it would have been problematic from the outset; expecting Muslim women to want anything to do with unknown men in a hostile culture. Schrodinger's Racist, and all that.

Once again, who is allowed to instigate change?

That's the wrong question. How about;

Why should anyone wait for your approval to act?

As far as I'm concerned, you naysayers can go sit on a pineapple and spin.

To quote a wise friend and fellow biracial, you're better than this. Substandard criticism is vexing.

Racism has a simple definition, but the conversation around it is immense, convoluted, complex, intricate, nuanced, and extremely raw. Racism as a cultural structure is vast and often looks infinite. There is no quick and easy fix for bigotry, especially when so much of it is locked in legislation. I won't wait for a single big easy fix. Fuck that noise. If change is ever to come, then it must be enabled. Even if in frustratingly, insultingly slow, small increments, it must be enabled.

I want sound a massive shout out to you riders just getting on with it and being awesome. I want to holler and cheer for you minorities just getting on with it and being awesome. Been chewing over the titles that seem applicable - hero, legend, champion - (which you all are) which have been showered upon me as well, and they don't smell right. The current love of superheroes is great fun for the comic lovers, but the persistent purveyance of the superhero narrative can't be doing amazing things to the zeitgeist. Settle down; I'm all for comics too, but as someone invested in writing, I do pay attention to the narratives swimming in the media we consume. Superheroes are pretty ace, but they're also pretty damn special. They come swooping in and provide big, easy fixes to scary problems, and we normals shout hurrah! And there is much rejoicing.

Can't help think this breeds the expectation that we don't need to make any effort to fix things because some unicorn superhero will be along shortly to sort out this inconvenient mess for us.

Think of all those normal people who are just passing by but still charge into burning houses and save lives. Typically they're shaken and downplaying their role, because it wasn't a grand gesture on their part. They were just being who they are. The same as you.

No unicorns are coming.

You're much, much cooler than all the superheroes combined, and more excellent than all of the unicorns. Big call. I'm making it. There's a potential future in which being an awesome, compassionate, respectful and considerate individual will be the norm, and it's growing in your footsteps.

Hmm. Guess I'm not as devoid of hope as I was.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The sunrise is too pretty. I haven't slept, but my adrenal gland is putting in the hard yards, so I still feel mildly lucid.

They asked me if I was surprised by the response to the hashtag. As though anyone but a marketing department could be anything other than bewildered by having an idea go viral. Of course I wanted it to be picked up – why tweet it at all otherwise? – but this is electrifying and not a little alarming. 

There is no campaign back here, unless one heartsore woman flapping her chops on twitter is a campaign. This wasn't planned. The rocket launched and I have no idea how to fly this thing. 

To all who have spoken up; it isn't for me to say, but, thank you.

Hashtags have a life cycle dependent upon attention and constrained by the very platform that gives them such power. It was never my intention to try and maintain any control over the hashtag, but given I was trending globally within hours, and sustained for hours, I must take some responsibility for what is forming. 

Nuance is easily lost on twitter, bless those blasted 140 characters. There is much language being used – 'help them', 'protect them', 'their safety' – which is slippery, and this idea was already sitting close to the White Saviour Complex. I think it may have slunk closer in the night.

We need this. So much of what is broadcast in general is hurt and damage and grief, that just to be reminded that other people care is no small thing. When feeling helpless, any tool is better than none, and there is so much to fight.

But this isn't about feeling better. It's about respect. There are people who cannot take basic respect from the general public for granted, and so to those who may benefit from it I simply offer the physical reality that they will not be alone for this leg of the bus trip. 

Although this has risen from the events in Martin Place, it is a sentiment that does not stop at Muslims, or anyone wearing their religion or culture, or who does not dress according to their expected gender, or who is simply too not-white or not-male to ever take safety for granted. In those terms, I would be included as someone at risk. I'm afraid I'm not particularly intimidating and being a non-white woman it could be argued that I add to target attraction, instead of detracting from it. I suspect this is why I do tend to gravitate toward non-whites in public anyway. Some sort of safety in numbers.

But I have to say, the thought of anyone deciding to approach me in public in order to protect me for my own sake without considering that, like everyone on public transport, I just want to be left alone; that thought rather gets my hackles up. 

So many people have reached out to say what this hashtag has meant for them. So many. Whatever grand wild delusion was galloping through my head when I created the hashtag has slunk off dejectedly, being unable to compete with reality. Some of you have already been helped by this, and that is. No words. No words. Thank you. 

But keep in mind, please, it is not for anyone to burden their need to help upon others. Respect that while too many are afraid to go out in public, many still walk the streets confidently and comfortably, and need nothing from any of us. If you're asked to buddy up, that is an amazing honour and sign of trust. That is enough. Don't expect more. 

Don't let it become a #NotAllMen where the focus fell off the actual issue of misogyny and violence and became entirely about assuring gentlemen they were good people, not bad people. Don't centre this on yourself. It isn't about me, or you. The desire to do right is in no way related to actually doing right. 

It is important that the offer be made, and equally important that nothing be expected in return.

The people who don't feel safe; they don't feel safe. We don't. I don't. They may not feel safe enough to tell you your good intentions are lovely but unwanted at this time. The ability to read minds isn't required for any act of kindness to remain a respectful one. Kindness that is forced upon a person is not kindness.

We need this, but not as a bandaid. We've always needed this empathy, and we always will. But not just to make ourselves feel better. To make the world better. And keep it that way.

A hashtag is a flash in a pan, but this will is not. This is a long campaign. Longer than this life. Hold on to that.


Now, a little about this startled bunny in the spotlight. This will be largely self-indulgent navel gazing, and those of you who need this hope, love and light right now should stop reading.


Because I can't give you that hope, love and light. 

So many have said they have felt hope because of this, and accused me of having a heart full of it. This is definitely the change I want to see in the world.

But this act does not come from a place of hope or love. Hope has been scarce for too long, and I can point at the day on the calendar at which it finally ran out. I have lost hope for positive change. My every act of solidarity, dissent, support, revolt comes not from the hope for change, but the anger of change that never came. 

That man, he lost hope. He knew what he was doing and how this would end. One sad, angry man and look at the hurt we have let him do. The hostages, all of them. The ex-wife whose murder to which he was allegedly accessory. We failed her too. He was sad, and angry, and he did this because we, this country, enabled him. I am so sorry.

I'm not even good anti-hero material. I actually am a cranky introvert who just doesn't like people, and not in a cute and loveable way. I'm also biracial, which is complicated. I have Opinions and as you can see they get waved around a bit, and I'm mulish enough not to be conveniently quiet to keep things nice, because nice achieves nothing. Plus I have enough health issues to mean I'm simply not going to do enough to sustain this. I cannot. 

I act because I am angry, and this world is fucking horrible, and I am sad, and if I cannot sit on the mere hope that the world will change, then there is nothing left to do but get out and push. 

I must enable that positive change to come, even if I don't believe it will. I must open the doors and windows and invite it in unimpeded and cherished. This idea did not come from a good place, but it isn't about me, and may become something better. Please let it become something better. 

The fact is that while I offered this platform to voices that need to be heard, there haven't been any volunteers except for the singular and indefatigable Amy Gray. Massive and many kudos to this woman for picking up the baton while I collapse into a pile. 

The fact is that I don't blame anyone for not taking this up. The attention is searing and I am indeed thinking of the Eye of Sauron. To step into this is to make yourself a target for all that is awful, and I don't expect anyone to take this on, especially those who are already targeted. The offer remains while the media have any interest in what I say. 

I expect some bad things will come of this, for which I am sorry for my part. I also expect some good things, because they have already happened. There doesn't seem to be anything else to expect. There's no stopping this now.

For those asking I explain my 'shockingly racist' blog posts; the post you're no doubt referring to is pretty self-explanatory. Rather surreal feeling the need to state that some of my best friends are white, and half of my family. 

Speaking as one of those not-white people, I do humbly request a scarcity of white knighting. Bear  your visible stickers like Neighbourhood Watch signs; not medals. It feels arrogant to say so, but I'm already proud of you. There are so many valid and justified reasons to stay quiet, and there is no shame in doing so. 

I'm stepping back because I cannot and will not be a warm fuzzy story. That narrative is a trap. The fact that the hashtag is already being seen as competing with the narrative of the siege and hostages is proof of that. They are not in conflict with each other. I've not dwelled on the hostages and those who care about them because I can think of nothing to say in the face of such trauma. I hope they have safe spaces open to them.

For the time being, I'm sorry but I won't sharing my bus trips. The point was to simply offer company if it would help. This sudden notoriety is alarming enough for me; imposing it on anyone else would be presumptuous at the very least. The only reason I can only do this because so many people have already put their hand up. 

The glow of initial solidarity hides the hard edges of true support. These displays have occurred before, and will occur again, but change is slow in coming. This is just my reality. I'll still be a tired biracial woman wary of being approached by strangers tomorrow, the day after, the day after that, for the rest of my life. Hatecrime and bias in our infrastructure will continue, because these wounds are centuries in the making, and we need to work so much harder to even consider healing.

Extreme situations make heroes of barristers and store managers. For most of us, there are no extreme situations, and no heroes. Just you, me, and the rest of the world.



Hello, members of the media. I won't be giving any further interviews, but if you hop on over to my twitter account there are a few recommendations for people whose perspective on current matters is worth attention.
If any Muslim feminists would like to speak out, let me know and I'll usher the media your way.
The Indigenous people of Australia have been attacked in public for their appearance since first landing. If any of you would like to speak out, let me know and I'll usher the media your way.
This incident was born of misogyny and domestic violence. Last month was White Ribbon Day. The experts have always been there. This is the time to talk to them.