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  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761046162
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $34.99

Am I Black Enough For You?

10 Years On

The story of an urban-based high achieving Wiradyuri 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 advocate for Aboriginal literacy, rights and representation, was born a member of the Wiradyuri nation of central New South Wales but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school.

In this heartfelt and revealing memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, with large doses of humour, Anita Heiss gives a firsthand account of her experiences as a woman with a Wiradyuri mother and Austrian father. Anita explains the development of her activist consciousness, how she strives to be happy and healthy, and the work she undertakes every day to ensure the world she leaves behind will be more equitable and understanding than it is today.

  • Published: 29 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761046162
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $34.99

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.

Praise for Am I Black Enough For You?

Am I Black Enough for You? should be required reading for all Australians. Anita’s strength and purpose in articulating a way forward and owning our identity as First Nations people has been an important guiding light and inspiration for me in my own life and work.

Brooke Blurton

As Aboriginal people, we continue to have our identities challenged and stereotyped by those from outside our communities. Am I Black Enough For You? explains why we are the only ones who can define who we are, and that we have a right to assert our diverse identities as the First People of this nation.

Joe Williams, Founder of The Enemy Within

Am I Black Enough For You? is a very important book on many levels. For me after reading it, it made me realise I was not alone in being able to straddle two cultures like Anita did with such grace and strength. My background being Aboriginal and Maltese had me eating turtles one weekend at Cangai NSW with my Goori family, and eating pastizzi with my Maltese mob the following week visiting my dear late Dad in school holidays. Fitting in for me was never a struggle because I was comfortable in my skin in any company, and my parents even though divorced, made sure I was, and I thank them for that. Anita has painted pictures with words in this book that help me realise even though my childhood was a little broken, it was normal, and I was lucky to have family around on both sides to help keep it that way. This book is a great tool for us all as Australians to appreciate diversity and acceptance, and to make us appreciate the word “belonging”. It’s taken a long time for Indigenous people to feel they belong, and we have a long way to go, but this book adds a few pavers on the path in the right direction of how we all should feel on our way forward, together.

Troy Cassar-Daley

Anita Heiss is a powerhouse and when she speaks we should all stop and listen. I have learned so much from her already, and will continue to do so. Her work is full of courage, insight, integrity and hope.

Sara Foster

Am I Black Enough for You? speaks not only to my sister Anita’s story, but it speaks to my journey also as an Aboriginal man. It is a great read for our non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters to help them understand the different journeys Aboriginal people are on, and the various ways we live our cultures.

Adam Goodes

Anita has a rare gift of communicating about tough topics in such an easy to read way. The warmth and humour in her use of language is a perfect contrast to many of the challenging issues she tackles head on. A must read for everyone who lives in this country. We live on stolen land, but please don’t steal this book.

Wil Anderson

Ten years ago Anita Heiss asked Am I Black Enough for You? A question that challenged the weaponising of race identity relating to First Nations people in this country and carved out a path of optimistic, generous truth telling. A decade on, race and identity are still being weaponised against Aboriginal people making the question Am I Black Enough for You? just as poignant today.

Hon. Leeanne Enoch MP

This memoir is insightful, candid and funny, being both a personal narrative of growing up in Sydney and also a broader exploration of Aboriginal identity in contemporary Australia. Her activist mentality is evident, as she works to address stereotypes prevalent in our society and suggests a reconciled way forward.

Steph, Better Read Than Dead

It’s a combination of memoir and statement, often focusing on identity and Australia’s fixation with it. In many ways, in going back through her family history – Indigenous mother, European father, Catholic education, country and urban upbringing, among other things – this amounts to a portrait of the complex nature of identity that defies simplistic reduction, Heiss equally at home with her Indigenous heritage and personal sacred sites like Maroubra beach, as she meditates on Gustav Klimt in Vienna.

Fiona Capp, The Sydney Morning Herald

Awards & recognition

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

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

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Anita Heiss awarded Member of the Order of Australia for Queen’s Birthday 2022

Author of Am I Black Enough For You?, Anita Heiss, has received an AM for services to tertiary Indigenous Studies and the Arts.