“I wasn’t prepared to be anybody’s mother. I was prepared to be a revolutionary.”
– Elaine Brown

Welcome to season five of Audio Stage, a very special season for us. For this season, we collaborate with Footscray Community Arts Centre to bring you a series of conversations by black women about belonging and self.

We have wanted to do this for a long time. We wanted to talk about race. We wanted to talk about Australia’s racism. We wanted to talk about dispossession, about family and intergenerational trauma, about microaggressions, about what it means to be an artist when your voice, the fact of your voice, is in and of itself a danger to the status quo. We also knew that we wanted to listen, not talk.

So here we are. In the next five episodes, we are listening in on some huge, important conversations about what it means to belong in a society that perhaps never wanted us in the first place. We record from a country in which so many of us are constantly reminded that we do not belong here.

“For me, being black, being a migrant, my parents migrating to Australia out of need, and personally having that same experience… Not wanting to speak my language for a long time, because I just wanted to speak English, like everybody else in school. I had to re-teach myself, I’m still in that process, of the language that I’ve lost. I don’t think it landed for me until I was much older – when you’re around your people, and you have that mirroring moment, and you just realise what it is that you’ve subconsciously, or consciously, left behind. For survival.”
– Alia Gabres

In our first episode, we are bringing you the conversation between Melbourne spoken word artist and cultural producer Alia Gabres, and former Black Panther Party member Elaine Brown, now an author and activist. This precious, beautiful conversation was a part of the program at Women of the World Festival Melbourne at FCAC in March 2017, and we recorded it there.

Discussed in this episode:
being a mother vs being a revolutionary, how words are beautiful but actions are supreme, how every woman needs her own football team, wanting to be white, the mirroring moment, you can’t be a vegan in the ‘hood, clicktivism, white supremacy, parenting in the Black Panther Party, not knowing how to braid your daughter’s hair, and how revolutionary women don’t cook.

“White supremacy is not really the issue. All white people are not our enemies, obviously. Because this is a sophist concept, where you say, ‘you know what, if the white man is my oppressor, then all white people must be aligned with that’. That is not true. We learnt, ultimately, class analysis. But as a child, I grew up knowing that black people were poor, and I don’t want to be poor.”
– Elaine Brown

You can find out more about Elaine on her website, or follow her on Twitter. Alia Gabres tweets here, while you can read more about her work here or watch her spoken word poetry on YouTube.

This season of Audiostage was created in partnership with Footscray Community Arts Centre as part of WOW – Women of the World Festival Melbourne, delivered in association with Southbank Centre London.