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Am I Black Enough For You?
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Am I Black Enough For You?

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  195 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
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 a
Paperback, 346 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Random House Books Australia (first published January 1st 2012)
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34th out of 309 books — 502 voters
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Indigenous Australian Writing
5th out of 150 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 16, 2016 PattyMacDotComma rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aboriginal current affairs
This is a warm, easy-to-read book by a woman who, in spite of not needing to, seems still to be trying to justify her achievements. She earned her PhD in 2001, has written books, has travelled, and has, oh yes, maintained a close, loving relationship with her family, both Aboriginal and Austrian. Her story is mostly about her family, her growing up, and her many academic highlights.

So what? Why write a book about it?

The trigger for this particular book was a journalist naming and shaming (so h
Jennifer Mills
Apr 22, 2012 Jennifer Mills rated it liked it
Shelves: aww2012
The ideal gift for your embarrassing racist relative.
Deborah Biancotti
Jul 02, 2012 Deborah Biancotti rated it really liked it
I'm hoping this book makes it into every library in the country. From the title I was expecting a kinda kick to the pants & heck, I'd gotten sick enough of the racism of my upbringing & the privilege of my (white) life that I figured I might just deserve it. But Heiss disarmed me on the very first page. She made the political personal, she showed the effects of racist comments (by Andrew Bolt & followers) on her family & particularly her mother. And she allowed this book to be ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
In Am I Black Enough for You, Anita Heiss directly tackles the belittling idea that there is only one identity to be found within a specific cultural or ethnic background. With her trademark humour and razor-sharp insight, Anita gracefully explores her identity as an Aboriginal woman, and the intersecting lines of sameness and difference to the people around her. Through her own story, Anita raises numerous questions great and small as to how we all respond to this idea of ‘otherness’, and makes ...more
Amanda Jane
As Indigenous Australian, I could completely relate to this book. It gives a wonderfully honest insight into not just being Indigenous person but also a professional woman in modern day Australia.
I would like it to be noted that in no way is this book about bashing the white man or the colonisation of Australia. It is about learning how to move forward as a nation with understanding one and another.
Anita is wise beyond her years and she has helped me as an Indigenous woman see many topics from a
Jun 05, 2012 Thoraiya rated it really liked it
Everyone should read this. That is all :)
Kevin Klehr
Feb 26, 2013 Kevin Klehr rated it really liked it
For those not in Australia who don't know why this book has this title, it's in response to an opinion piece published in the press. Read here to get the background -

This thought provoking and often light hearted read is not an attack on the columnist who was in breach of Australia's anti discrimination laws. In fact, very little is written about the court case. Instead it addresses the notion of identity and what it means to be the individual known as An
Kerrie Paterson
Mar 25, 2016 Kerrie Paterson rated it it was amazing
If an autobiography makes you feel like you've walked in the shoes of the writer for a little while, and teaches you something about yourself and the history of your country, that counts as a win in my book.
In her memoir, Am I Black Enough for you?, Anita Heiss explores what it's like to be an urban Aboriginal - growing up in the suburbs of Sydney with an Aboriginal mum and an Austrian dad. She talks about her work, her activism and her life as a non-camping, Black Australian woman who loves buy
Louisa Reid
Jan 23, 2014 Louisa Reid rated it really liked it
For non-Aboriginals, Anita Heiss adds a new dimension to the understanding of just what "Aboriginal" means to those who identify as such. As a Kiwi, I saw many of the same kinds of criticism (not black enough) levelled against those who identified as Maori if they didn't "look" Maori. The simple fact is, in a multi-cultural and multi-dimensional country, people of mixed race are the norm, and it is - and should be - their prerogative as to how they identify. The detractors, who intimate that ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, politics
I read this book because I was very interested in the case where Andrew Bolt was sued for racial vilification in claiming that Anita Heiss and a number of other Aboriginal people were accused of being 'really white', 'professional Aborigines' and 'white Aborigines' As an average progressive white Australian I found his article odious in the extreme. Heiss and the others won the case.
I had hardly heard of Anita Heiss until the storm of controversy over this case. I heard her on the radio and thou
Aug 01, 2013 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I really, really enjoyed this book. I learnt a lot, which is the very reason the author wrote it in the first place - to teach, to share knowledge. I found the level of detail sometimes detracted from the imagery BUT I believe I know precisely why that level of detail was there, for I have received similar comments myself. When we write to set the record straight or to detail controversial topics we include the detail to make damn sure people are aware of the facts and those facts are harder for ...more
Aug 11, 2012 Bri rated it it was ok
I was really drawn to this book because my daughter is also a ‘fair skinned’ Aboriginal person and also because I despise journalist Andrew Bolt and I was interested to read of Heiss’s experience in taking him to court for racial discrimination. I was disappointed on this front because Am I Black Enough for You? doesn’t talk much about the court case at all. Heiss talks about her personal history and that of her family, as well as her more immediate history but she barely mentions the court case ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, e-books
This memoir covers both Heiss' experience as a "concrete Koori" living in Sydney, her life while maintaining a focus on her reaction to Andrew Bolt's attack on her identity and racial background and the subsequent legal proceedings.

The identity issues associated with being an urban Indigenous dweller are unpacked and explored with a relatable tone that is both appealing and educating. For me, the best part of this book is that it is easily read, there are some brilliant discussion points and as
Jan 17, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it
An accessible book about REALLY important issues. Especially given current discussions about free speech and 18c, this should be required reading. It certainly will be, at least parts of it, for my own students. Heiss discusses complex issues like identity, place, structure/agency, and racism in a way that makes it feel as if you're sitting at a cafe chatting to her. I don't agree 100% with her, but her overall message is bang on.
Apr 07, 2012 Beth_Adele rated it it was amazing
I really need time to digest this one. Needless to say, this book shall hence forth be known as the book that changed/inspired and moved me in a place so deep I have yet to find the words to describe it and I hope to someday soon write the review that does it justice.
Lisa Walker
Sep 15, 2013 Lisa Walker rated it it was amazing
I loved Anita's story about growing up as a 'concrete koori'. She rises above mean-spirited people with grace, humour and a lot of style. A feisty role model for all women.
Jun 29, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Courageous, funny, openly honest. This memoir engaged me from the first word - I read it in three days!
Jul 14, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
I was going to start this review with some ruminations about what makes people self-righteous or how I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy making a career out of being a spiteful shock-jock; I had also thought to share my puzzlement about why media proprietors would want to be associated with such people and programs. But I’ve decided not to. The catalyst for Am I Black Enough For You? by Dr Anita Heiss may well have had been some unpleasant redneck media commentary, but I don’t want the ...more
Samantha Kukuljan
Feb 01, 2016 Samantha Kukuljan rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandy O'sullivan
Apr 20, 2015 Sandy O'sullivan rated it it was amazing
Perfectly articulated and incredibly touching life story that informs and edifies!

The backdrop of the memoir is the very public racial discrimination trial she participated in. Held in Melbourne a few years ago, the trial focused on a journalist who challenged a number of public figures on their Indigenous identities and motives. I won't give away the outcome of the trial which brought findings celebrated across the country (and probably some commiserations). It's treated very sensitively here,
Ross Hamilton
Nov 07, 2013 Ross Hamilton rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read something that makes you think. Or laugh. Or feel absurdly pleased with things. Or maybe ashamed. Am I Black Enough For You? covered all those bases with me.

I find it a joy to read something that is so easy to read. I don’t mean simple or dumbed down. I mean well written in a conversational style as if you were sitting down having a yarn with the author over a cuppa. And that is precisely what I found Am I Black Enough For You? A great part of the charm was the wit, wry humour
Newtown Review of Books
Jan 02, 2013 Newtown Review of Books rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Anita Heiss claims the right to be herself.

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.

The book’s genesis lies in the court case that Heiss and eight others brought against News Ltd columnist and b
Natasha Reid
Mar 11, 2016 Natasha Reid rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, poc
An important read for all Australians, to work on our understanding of Australia's First People, the inherent racism that taints our nation, and the reality of Indigenous Australia's gap experience.
The distinction of First People, rather then Indigenous and Aboriginal - the importance of Welcome to Country - the sharing of connection to Nation and people - the challenge of stereotyping and living as a modern Black woman in Australia: all such powerful insights.
The powerful reminder of the lack o
Janet Temby
Dec 27, 2012 Janet Temby rated it liked it
A memoir book written by a writer and more enjoyable for this very reason. After learning about white privilege versus aboriginal inequity, it was interesting to hear a different perspective, i.e. Anita's aboriginal AND privileged upbringing. A very enjoyable read. It was an easy yet thought provoking read.
Helen Yee
Loved the first quarter of the book but found it started to lose momentum. Nevertheless this is a valuable read on what it means to be Aboriginal, about the harsh and ignorant judgements made by others, and the need for all Australians to recognise, learn about and take pride in our Aboriginal history.
May 14, 2015 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Interesting memoir that takes us into the life of "an urban, beachside Blackfella, a concrete Koori with Westfield Dreaming". A world away from the typical documentary, media focuses, Anita reveals her life to better our understanding of dynamic and diverse first people's of the land.
Steve lovell
Feb 11, 2013 Steve lovell rated it really liked it
The standout 'sisters' of Indigenous Australia provide some powerful role modelage for all of us in this country, but particularly for our youthful potential glass shatterers of any hue, whether they be urbanites or bushies. This increasingly polyglot nation of ours, vibrant with the input of multiculturalism, and the huge contribution of the First Australians in all facets of our culture, has all combined to help make this land truly the 'lucky country’. We are the envy of all countries who ...more
Emily Witt
Aug 14, 2016 Emily Witt rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, aww-read
Review originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind 15 August, 2016:

Normally memoirs don’t really get more than three stars from me. It’s not that they’re terrible, just that they’re not a genre I have much interest in, so even if I find the writer interesting, that’s not necessarily the case for the writing itself. Fortunately, I found Anita Heiss’ memoir to be thought-provoking and easy to read, and it helped me to understand how our Aboriginal Australians form their identity.

In 2009, Anit
Maree Kimberley
In 'Am I Black Enough for You?' Anita Heiss writes an entertaining memoir that weaves around and through her decision to join with a small group and take columnist Andrew Bolt to court for breaching Australia's Racial Discrimination Act.

Heiss' writing style is conversational, rather than confrontational as the book's title may imply, and the memoir is a rambling tale at times. More than once I wondered where Heiss was going with the story but she always deftly led me back to the point she wanted
Feb 25, 2014 Leah rated it liked it
Anita Heiss's memoir is a very accessible introduction to many of the issues facing indigenous & non-indigenous Australia, both historical and contemporary. It also offers insight into her personal story, as an urban Aboriginal Sydneysider with mixed heritage (her father was a white Austrian migrant to australia), and tells the tale of her class action court battle with a newspaper columnist under the Racial Discrimination Act (the basis for the book's title).

It is a genuinely fascinating bo
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Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia's most prolific and well-known authors of Indigenous literature.

Her published works include the historical novel Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, the poetry collection Token Koori, satirical social commentary Sacred Cows, non-fiction text Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight) - Publishi
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“How can you possibly be an agent of positive change in the world when you are full of bitterness and hatred?” 2 likes
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