Another Day in the Colony (Chelsea Watego, UQP)
Chelsea Watego’s debut essay collection Another Day in the Colony documents the sustained racism First Peoples suffer in this continent. Through critical race scholarship, memoir and archival imagery a powerful assemblage is built, echoing Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Indigenous women and feminism by Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson. In recent years a glut of anti-racist books has surged, peaking after 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement. Another Day in the Colony is an urgent departure from this tokenistic trend. Too often anti-racist polemics are co-opted—into conferences, popular books, cultural awareness training, inclusion policies, etc.—cannibalised by well-meaning whites whose participation hides their ongoing complicity in the colony. Watego is acutely aware that this damages rather than affirms Indigenous self-determination and ongoing sovereignty. She writes: ‘I appreciate that there is a literary market for fictions of Black problems, but this is not a book for colonisers, or those aspiring to share the same status as them.’ Another Day in the Colony retaliates and reclaims Black stories to fortify Black people and futures. Watego writes that ‘the Black writer and scholar is not a diversity hire or disadvantage project—we are sovereign subjects who are meant to be of service to our people’. Without doubt this phenomenal collection will service First Nation communities. Its timeliness may also shift false narratives that have reinforced the colony for too long.
Timmah Ball is a writer and reviewer of Ballardong Noongar heritage. She speaks to Chelsea Watego here.