Skip to main content

Writing by Shareena Clanton

The Yung Tent Embassy pays homage to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy (established on Invasion Day, January 1972), at a time when listening to Indigenous peoples, not just about our land rights but the rights to our determinance and sovereignty, was no longer an option but a necessary collective and human right. In the 52 years since its establishment, nothing much has changed. With only 5 of the 19 targets met in the Closing the Gap report (Productivity Commission 2024), the colony of Australia has a long way to go in challenging its oppressive and dehumanizing systems that are killing Indigenous peoples. The Yung Tent Embassy continues the work of voicing the resistance and resilience of our youths today.

In my 15 years working within the entertainment and performance sector, I have noted that many with “good intentions” often pay lip service and do not do the work to challenge their biased prejudice against Aboriginal peoples. I have witnessed no other representation or mob around me in a room, to tokenistic “tick a box” employment strategies to acquire funding with little to no nurturing given by those sitting in leadership positions. Across the board, there is an invisible and tangible fear of us that remains unspoken. We, as Indigenous peoples, are still seen as the “other”, “them” or “the problem”. What we don’t address are the ways that mainstream society, media, and governing bodies rely upon the continued dehumanization, oppression, and criminalization of Indigenous peoples as a way to uphold colonial control, white supremacy, and racial hierarchy. One does not need statistics to see the inherent racism affecting our people or the settler innocence and benevolence that occurs when the grand narrative is challenged and justice is called for our people.

My mother, Gningala Yarran-Mark has this great saying and it’s that “Resistance is part of the struggle to be heard where subjugation exists.” We, as Indigenous peoples, are part of the resistance today and always. We are still here. We have always been here and despite the various attempts to erase, incarcerate, and break us into submission, our people are powerful beyond measure.

This Sunday it’s going to be a delight to sit with Taunwurrung Elder Uncle Larry Walsh, Darumbal and South Sea Islander educator Hayley McGuire, Gumbanynggirr activist and artist Aretha Brown, Gunai and Gunditjimarra multidisciplinary artist and poet Monica Jasmine Karo and Yiman researcher and PhD candidate Clint Hansen. Their decolonial works are part of the many stories that speak to our resilience, our resistance strategies, and the ability to build legacies that future generations can find strength and solidarity.

I hope you can join us this Sunday from 10 am to 11 am on the front lawn of the State Library of Victoria as part of the Blak & Bright Literary Festival and can check out more of the program. Head here for bookings and more information.

Shareena Clanton

Shareena Clanton is a proud Wongatha/Yamatji and Noongar/Gitja woman who is African-American with Etowah Cherokee and Blackfoot ancestry. Shareena lives and works on the unceded lands, waters, and territories of Wurundjeri and Boonwurrong Country in Naarm, Melbourne

Leave a Reply