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  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143777083
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Anita Heiss
  • RRP: $32.99

Am I Black Enough For You?

10 Years On

The story of an urban-based high achieving Aboriginal woman working to break down stereotypes and build bridges between black and white Australia.

I'm Aboriginal. I'm just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.

What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school.

Anita, amongst other proud Aboriginal Australians was publicly called out as too 'fair-skinned' to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita's involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty.

In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.

Read her story and ask: what does it take for someone to be black enough for you?

  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143777083
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Narrator: Anita Heiss
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Anita Heiss

Anita is a proud member of the Wiradyuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia’s most well-known authors, publishing across genres including non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial fiction and children’s fiction.

Anita’s non-fiction works include Am I Black Enough for You?,Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight): Publishing Aboriginal Literature, and, as editor, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, which she co-edited with Peter Minter.

Her adult fiction includes Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas. Her novel Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize, and was the University of Canberra 2020 Book of the Year. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray was shortlisted for the 2021 HNSA ARA Historical Novel.

Anita’s children’s literature includes Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, Our Race for Reconciliation, Harry’s Secret, Matty’s Comeback, and Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic, co-written with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin. She also wrote two kid's novels with students from La Perouse Public School – Yirra and Her Deadly Dog, Demon and Demon Guards the School Yard.

Her memoir Am I Black Enough for You? was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and she was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero).

As an advocate for Indigenous literacy, Anita has worked in remote communities as a role model and encouraging young Indigenous Australians to write their own stories. On an international level she has performed her work and lectured on Aboriginal literature at universities and conferences, consulates and embassies in the USA, Canada, the UK, Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, Spain, Japan, Austria, Germany, China, India and New Zealand. Anita is a Lifetime Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and a proud Ambassador of Worawa Aboriginal College, the GO Foundation and the Sydney Swans.

Anita is a Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland and is on the board of the National Justice Project, University of Queensland Press, Aboriginal Art Co and Circa Contemporary Theatre.

Anita loves chocolate, running and being a creative disruptor.

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Praise for Am I Black Enough For You?

Am I Black Enough For You? is a vibrant, upbeat, restless and often driven account of what it means for at least one person to enjoy life as an indigenous writer.

Michael McGirr, The Sydney Morning Herald

One of the fundamentals about books is how they allow us to see through another’s eyes. In this part memoir, part polemic, part primer on Indigenous Australia, Anita Heiss gives a sharp, funny, moving account of what it’s like to be an educated, urban Aboriginal woman with an Austrian father, and the freight of expectations that come with that. One striking aspect of the book is Heiss’s lack of anger. This is a woman more concerned to educate than to rage, more interested in building bridges than burning them. Throughout she is grateful for the opportunities she has had and the support she has received from her family and others. She shows through her own experiences the strength of the Aboriginal community – from the encouragement she received when she was studying at university, to the teaching and mentoring she has done in turn with young Indigenous students.

Linda Funnell, The Newtown Review of Books

With wisdom, wit and fierce intelligence, Anita Heiss has written a brilliant memoir about what it means to be a black Australian woman in the 21st century. Part family history, part manifesto, this is feisty stuff: brassy, razor sharp and utterly readable.

Benjamin Law

There are many reasons to like the writing of Anita Heiss. She’s funny in a dry, laconic way, she’s a straight talker – there are no frills here – and she’s passionate about her topic of racial relationships. Dr Heiss’s book is a personal account of being herself in a country that seems obsessed with stereotyping. Heiss’ book is informative, personal and accessible. It serves well as a myth-breaker and also a style of political memoir. Every high school in Australia should be ensuring this book is on its curriculum.

Chris Gordon, Readings

Anita Heiss is a star - she has that degree of brightness, being transparently honest in both thought and emotion. Anyone struggling with the issue of identity can learn from her; so can our nation.

Martin Flanagan

Anita Heiss is undeniably Australia's most prolific Aboriginal writer.In a heart rendering story she describes her journey through the trials and tribulations that only life can bring. Her sense of belonging and love for family and community provide the centrepiece to her successful career in the arts and politics. Heiss' writing and life brand of passion, integrity and humour provide the focus which transcends the often serious educational component of her work. Her books are indeed gifts to all who read them. Anita Heiss you sure are Black Enough For Me.

Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA

Anita has artfully woven her personal and family history with recent events questioning the validity of that history with an honesty and bravery worth honouring. Resilience and wit have become the inherent trademarks of Anita's unique style and this book, in many ways, serves as a 'how-to' survival guide for a new generation of Aboriginal thinkers and actors. Black enough? Bloody oath!

Jason Glanville, The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence

In Am I Black Enough For You? Heiss has written an account of a life well-lived but also a life deeply endeared to two very different parts of the world, on polar opposite sides of the planet. Regarding her Aboriginal roots and the future of her people, she speaks with passion, conviction and ... balls. Yes, to the general populace, Anita Heiss may appear ballsy and highly opinionated, but there's no denying the fact that this is a woman whose chest contains an enormouse heart. The greatest social and political changes ever made have been by the voices of the outwardly strong but open of heart.

Tania McCartney, Australian Women Online

Passionate, personal, informative and funny...Her memoir gives a fresh perspective on historical events and culture.

Lizzie Stafford, Sunday Mail, Brisbane

...Well written and researched, meticulously referenced, critical without resorting to insult, humourous without being snide, positive and honest. Memoir can be tricky, but Heiss nails it...

Rudi Maxwell, Koori Mail, Lismore

Awards & recognition

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

Winner  •  2012  •  Victorian Premier's Literary Awards (Indigenous Category)

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