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  • RedBelly

Inclusivity isn't enough.

Inclusivity isn't enough.

After attending several music industry events and festivals in the last few months I've noticed a continuing thread in each event and common conversation with other Blak artists.

In this internet age there seems to be a collective movement towards understanding, truth telling and actions progressing towards decolonialism. But what I'm witnessing is a lot of these actions are limited to the internet and social capital with no real life experience. It's the black square phenomenon yet again. People, whether representing themselves or corporations they work for, are building their social capital by relying on appearances and in my opinion an extension of black-cladding. Appearing to be inclusive and progressive while simultaneously upholding the colonial systems they claim to be progressing from, personally and publicly.

One of the ways this manifests in the arts industry is mainstream Blak artists being sprinkled in amongst a predominantly beige lineup. While these Blak artists deservedly take up that space, those they are generally booked for commercial gigs because they are palatable to white audiences and some also push a corporate agenda; materialism, love/heartbreak, celebrity culture etc. They aren't going to promote Blak artists who speak about taking care of their families, Blak love, taking care of Country or abolition and deaths in custody. Some event organizers have even appropriated Blak slang and motifs.

Inclusivity is the bare minimum. It's the bare minimum expected of music festival owners/organizers. Inclusivity isn't enough. It isn't enough when I enter a festival held on my own ancestral lands and I'm met with disrespect from staff backstage, disrespect towards my young family members being asked by white male staff "you don't look Aboriginal, what percentage Aboriginal are you?". It isn't enough when the only reason I accepted the gig was because it was supposed to give me "exposure" but ended up giving me zero promotion via their social media platforms. Most importantly and frustratingly, it isn't enough when I witness the continued desecration of Country that my family and my ancestors have taken care of since time immemorial and the complete oblivion to it all by punters and festival organizers. If any "inclusive" staff actually understood or cared about Indigenous peoples connection to Country, they'd know that being in that festival, literally made us sick. There are those kinds of people who work in the arts industry that do work in and with rural Indigenous communities, showing respect and honour while they are on those lands. Yet that respect and honour (again the bare minimum) is completely gone when they work on lands that have been urbanised, particularly on the east coast. They think that because they’ve gone and got a skin name that that somehow gives them permission to return to the east coast and treat traditional custodians here with disrespect and entitlement. There is a cognitive dissonance and that in itself is a conversation for another time however it does play a role in this continuing thread.