Turning a teen refugee’s story into a comic

"With comics, people can project their own experiences on to these simple drawings and make them their own."



This is my response (originally published in Crikey) to Mark Sawyer’s article ‘How Racist Are You’ published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald last week (http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-racist-are-you-20140611-zs43h.html)

Dear Mark,

As a comedian I very much appreciated your…

Shailja Patel: Unpour

My grandparents’ sugar was the cane. You need strong teeth, strong jaws, to chew sugarcane. The sticks are sometimes too thick to fit comfortably in the mouth. You get purchase on a ridge of juicy, crisp fiber, arrange the fibers crosswise against the blades of your incisors. You position your tongue and the roof of your mouth out of reach of knife-sharp corners. You bite against the grain. If you bite parallel to the fibers, you end up splitting the cane, smaller and smaller sticks in your mouth, saliva running, no juice. But when you get the crunch just right and the surge and gush of sweet liquid—aaaah.

My parents’ sugar was jaggery. Brown rock. Pre-sugar, before the molasses is spun off from the crystals by centrifuge. Made from coconut or date palm sap or sugarcane juice, boiled to syrup, then hardened and chopped into blocks. As a child I had the task of grating the large hunk down into soft, crumbly shavings for cooking. The gritty, melty sweetness of it, shot with undertastes of minerals.


Speak the truth to the people
Talk sense to the people
Free them with honesty
Free the people with Love and Courage for their Being
Spare them the fantasy
Fantasy enslaves
A slave is enslaved
Can be enslaved by unwisdom
Can be re-enslaved while in flight from the enemy
Can be enslaved by his brother whom he loves
His brother whom he trusts whom he loves
His brother whom he trusts
His brother with the loud voice
And the unwisdom
Speak the truth to the people
It is not necessary to green the heart
Only to identify the enemy
It is not necessary to blow the mind
Only to free the mind
To identify the enemy is to free the mind
A free mind has no need to scream

A free mind is ready for other things

To BUILD black schools
To BUILD black children
To BUILD black minds
To BUILD black love
To BUILD black impregnability
To BUILD a strong black nation

Speak the truth to the people
Spare them the opium of devil-hate
They need no trips on honky-chants.

Move them instead to a BLACK ONENESS.

A black strength which will defend its own
Needing no cacophony of screams for activation
A black strength which will attack the laws
exposes the lies, disassembles the structure
and ravages the very foundation of evil.
Speak the truth to the people
To identify the enemy is to free the mind
Free the mind of the people
Speak to the mind of the people
Speak Truth


— mari evans, speak the truth to the people. (via black-poetry)

(via navigatethestream)

Uncle Larry Walsh



“It’s not just about change, it’s about creating the conditions for change.” Says Uncle Larry Walsh.

For the past 20 years, Uncle Larry has used his storytelling to create the conditions for positive change in the Aboriginal community.

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Space, Race, Bodies—Geocorpographies of the City, Nation and Empire

8-10th December, 2014
University of Otago, New Zealand
Keynote speakers:
· Professor Denise Ferreira da Silva, Inaugural Chair in Ethics, Director, The Center for Ethics and Politics, University of London


Ha ha!