“I write because I want to break down stereotypes of Aboriginal people. I want to see Aboriginal people as real people in Australian literature. I want Aboriginal women and children to see themselves on the pages,” Dr Anita Heiss says.
When Anita started writing chick lit, or choc lit, as it was referred to, she was reading chick lit but never saw characters like her.
Anita wondered how she could reach the women who read chick lit – those who may never have met, read about, or thought about Aboriginal people. She thought about what these women shared with Aboriginal women: experiences dating, falling in love, making love. Anita decided to write chick lit – choc lit – about what makes them the same.
“How can we be the same when we have different identities?” Anita asks. She says that people have imposed language on Aboriginal people: ‘half’ or ‘part’ Aboriginal. “You don’t hear people saying they are half-caste Australian because their parents were born in Greece.” We need to pay attention to the way we use language, how we use different language for other people than ourselves – how our language imposes difference.
“Start considering what connects you to someone rather than what separates you,” Anita says. She believes that if we start thinking about what we have in common, we will have a greater sense of world and community peace, and a greater sense of inner peace.
Dr Anita Heiss, member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors of Aboriginal literature presented this at Happiness & Its Causes 2016.