But where is the money going? When Black Business is expected to be a charity?

I’ve been operating a business in some form or another since 1994. We started out delivering Goori (Indigenous) studies to schools. Then we created and sold books. Today we’re selling books, shirts, and services (websites, graphic design etc) and a bit of art work. All is good. We seem to manage to ride the peaks and troughs of small business. But over the twenty-odd years of being in trade, every year there’s some friggin peanut and their racist (and high and mighty) ideology who will expect you to justify your business.

Over the years I’ve had all kinds of comments about how my business, because it’s Aboriginal, should somehow be free.

“Aboriginal art shouldn’t be for sale …. “
“… but where is the money going?”
“… this (book) should be free …”

Um what?

  1. For a start, I’m not running a charity. If you want to endow me with a couple of billion, I’d be happy to run a charity for you. But you’re not, so keep walking dude.
  2. Where’s the money going? It’s going to put petrol in my car, pay my electricity bill, buy food for my family, pay my mortgage.  Or maybe it’s going into a nice hairdo, or that cool jacket I really want to buy, or it’s going to a holiday. But really it’s none of your fucking business where I spend my money. I own the business (yes, I started and OWN this business with my sweat and dollars) and the only one who gets a claim on my revenue is the Tax Office.
  3. Apparently Aboriginal art should be made free to all and sundry because of it’s spiritual meaning. Yeah? Well that canvas just cost me $1000, so you can stick this spiritual piece of charcoal up to goona-hole.
Why is an Indigenous product expected to hold a great virtue than an non-Indigenous product? Why do we have to wear the pressure of being a charity or ‘above the mighty dollar’?
If you haven’t noticed before, we live in a capitalist system – there’s no free petrol, electricity, food, clothing, or medical bills. We pay the same amount for these things as you do.
Our intellectual property (that goes into designs and the content we create), is also not free. Why should it be? If you think it is, then aren’t you just a coloniser? You take Aboriginal land, now you expect to take Aboriginal intellectual property?
For the past two and a half-decades I’ve done volunteer work in community organisations. I’ve paid my dues. All the while I’ve kept building a business. I do it for myself (it makes me feel good to build something), and I do it to provide for my family.
If you want to change ‘the system’, fine go ahead. But while you’re doing that, don’t expect me to work for free.

Revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary

Earlier this year I attended a Symposium at Carriageworks in Sydney. Ghassan Hage spoke at the event and presented a paper. As part of his presentation, he told a story about a man who was on a journey. The man was moving in the direction of a mountain in the distance. Continue reading Revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary