> Skip to content

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

In Am I Black Enough For You?, Anita discusses her family story that stems from Wiradjuri country in central NSW to the eastern suburbs of Sydney where she has lived most of her life on the fringes of the La Perouse Aboriginal community. This is a contemporary story told in the same vein as Alice Pung's Unpolished Gem. With a blend of her own memoirs and that of her mother's - Elsie Williams - biography, the story is told with a humorous, simple narrative style and social commentary throughout.
Am I Black Enough For You? includes the story of Anita’s own Aboriginal family and considesr the way in which Aboriginality is enmeshed with her daily life as a writer, educator, role model, sister, daughter, peer.
Am I Black Enough for You? includes experiences travelling internationally as an Ambassador for Indigenous Australia, working in remote communities as a literacy role model, and her life with an increasing profile as an author and academic.
Subjects covered include the entrenched racism in the Australian vernacular, the expectations Aboriginal people will be 'walking talking encyclopedias' in terms of Indigenous affairs, the construction of Aboriginality by government , tokenism, biculturalism, invisible whiteness, the tall-poppy syndrome and the rise of an Aboriginal middle-class in Australia and of course the recent Bolt case.
Anita’s memoir encompasses the political, social and cultural evolution of Aboriginal Australia through her personal lens, and how that has long impacted on her writing; from motivation to content.
Am I Black Enough For You? is for teens to adults and is full of wit and humour.

Reviews

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

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781742751924

    April 2, 2012

    Bantam Australia

    352 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742751931

    April 2, 2012

    Random House Australia

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

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

Also by Anita Heiss

Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic
Paris Dreaming
Manhattan Dreaming
Avoiding Mr Right
Not Meeting Mr Right

Recommendations

Ned Kelly
How to Stay Alive
Saving the Snowy Brumbies
The Last Great Australian Adventurer
Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson
Pablo Escobar
The Extraordinary Life of Pikelet
My Family And Other Animals
The Cat with the Giant Story
A Fortunate Life
The Undoing Project
Leila's Secret
Sticky Fingers
Boy
The Diary Of A Young Girl
Shackled
Bomber: The Whole Story
Stronger: Fighting Back After the Boston Marathon Bombing
Brief Candle in the Dark
For the Glory