Today: Jun 17, 2024

Day hosts event called ‘Blak Thinking’

Braden Saint-Val – News Writer

Fulbright Scholar Madi Day presented a public talk called “Blak Thinking on Colonial Power”, in the new School of Business Building and online through Zoom. 

They spoke to attendees about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ intellectual and political resistance to colonial occupation, the influence Native American and Black Power movements had on them, and anti-colonial leadership from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and transgender people. 

Madi is a trans-Murri scholar-activist from Dharug Country, known in a colonial context as Sydney, Australia, and their work is dedicated to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ communities. 

“My community drives my work. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people are disproportionately harmed by settler colonialism in so-called Australia. It is both a gendered and racial type of violence. I am deeply invested in the demise of these systems and the ideologies that sustain them,” Madi said. 

The Fulbright Program is a flagship international educational exchange program, and each year faculty and professionals from universities around the world receive Fulbright Scholar grants for advanced research and university lecturing in the United States. 

Hailing from Macquarie University, Madi received the Fulbright Sir John Carrick New South Wales Scholarship and decided to come to Southern to complete their PhD on settler colonialism, gender and heterosexuality after being invited by Director of Women’s and Gender’s Studies Director Yi-Chun Tricia Lin. 

“The staff and students in women and gender studies surprise me all the time with their genuine care for justice and generosity of spirit. It is an enormous privilege to teach and learn with people who are deeply invested in their education and communities,” Madi said. 

They have even been invited to extend their stay at Southern until April 2024. 

In the talk, attendees learned that the term “Blak” is a cultural and political identity to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and was coined by Erub/Mer and K’ua K’ua artist Destiny Deacon with the purpose of reclaiming colonialist language for self-definition and expression.  

They also learned about their ongoing fight for sovereignty and history with settler colonialism, from the arrival of British explorer James Cook to their erasure through eugenics, assimilation, denial of history, separation of families and incarceration. 

Madi also touched on how colonialism made inequality and the -isms and -phobias in the modern age possible to maintain power in the western world, as well as how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders participated in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, sharing the values of investing in their communities and taking care of relationships to combat colonial power and racial violence with their American counterparts. 

Madi’s biggest influences are their mentors Professor Bronwyn Carlson and Professor Sandy O’Sullivan from Macquarie University.  

“I am a beneficiary not only of their anti-colonial intellectual work but also their love and care for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Madi said. 

When it comes to learning more about indigenous peoples and anti-colonialism, Madi recommends Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars like Bronwyn Carlson, Ambelin Kwaymullina and Martin Nakata, as well as anti-colonial and Indigenous queer and trans scholars like Audra Simpson, Edward Said, Sandy O’Sullivan, Jodi Byrd and Souksavanh Keovorabouth. 

Madi also recommends their two favorite musicians, Barkaa and Bobby Sanchez. 

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