You know what is worth fighting for? That thing that lights your fire. Sometimes the ignition is something that comes from complete and utter joy or unimaginable pain. Either way girl, you gotta use it til it breaks. Whether we like to believe it or not we are all humans running around this planet like ants trying to build our own personal Ant Mountain of accomplishments, pancakes, and discarded boyfriends. We are fighting the same fight and sometimes the biggest challenge is believing in ourselves. Ok, I shall give you your moment to groan-eye-roll.
Damn it, believe in you!
This series is all about raising up those women in our communities that are going out and making a difference. They are active, they are lit and they aren’t afraid of their humanity. 10 Life Lessons is about looking inside ourselves to find that inner MOJO, freak. Let’s learn from each other, acknowledge our differences and appreciate the realness that makes us so, so fly.
Tamika Collins is proud Aboriginal woman who isn’t afraid to say what she means. She’s a woman that puts her heart on her sleeve and laser beams it at the world through her magical, lasering eyes. Tamika isn’t afraid of her humanity and for that we can breathe a sigh of relief and take note.
A proud Mununjali woman, Tamika is currently living on Boon Wurrung country. She hasn’t always been as outspoken as she is now. Because of the racism she suffered when she was growing up, it took her a long time to find her voice. We are so glad she has. Tamika is currently working in Melbourne, Australia as the education support officer at the Koorie Heritage Trust. This incredible trust works to educate, promote and encourage involvement for all Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people in Australia to join hands in the recognition and appreciation of cultural diversity, reconciliation and the Koorie culture as a whole.
For Tamika, working in an Indigenous organization means so much. She has worked so hard to get to where she is and she isn’t stopping anytime soon. When the world gets her down she has her black-power-playlist on Spotify that keeps her sane, warm and tingly. The playlist features plenty of powerful black women that inspire her to go out and karate chop bullsh*t on a daily basis. Yeah, girl. If you can’t find her working as an Indigenous advisor on various projects throughout Australia she’s probably hanging with her dog, making some jewellery. T.C is an inspirational, spine-tingling, bad-ass woman that you will all wanna know, for real.
Fun Facts about our gal
Fave food: hash browns
Currently Listening: A Tribe Called Quest (newest album)
Currently Watching: What Happened, Miss Simone?
10 LIFE LESSONS
I would firstly like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which this was written. The Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people. I pay my respects to their elders. Past, present and future. These lands were stolen and sovereignty has never been ceded.
1. ALWAYS WAS ALWAYS WILL BE ABORIGINAL LAND. Remember this. Do not ever forget it. Respect the land you walk on because Aboriginal people died on that land. We fought with spears and they fought with guns. Over 40,000 Aboriginal men, women and children were massacred during the frontier wars (1788-1934). Before colonization, this land kept us alive for thousands of years. We not only survived, we thrived. While Australia was being colonized, Aboriginal people were shot, hung, decimated by a deliberate introduction of disease and we were even rounded up and hunted for sport. Like animals. Although they tried to breed us out, we still survive today. In fact, we’re everywhere. My first lesson is for you to acknowledge the past. Go on your own self-guided journey to learn more about Aboriginal culture and history. Find out who’s Mob (tribe) is local to your area. You will be surprised with what you find, all you have to do is start looking.
2. It’s okay to not be okay. It took me a long time to come to terms with that statement. I go through phases of anxiety and depression. Sometimes I just need to stay in bed all day, eat my weight in Smiths cheese and onion chips (the best flavor by a mile) and cry. This is how I deal with things. This is how I deal with the race related weight that sits on my shoulders every single day. Weight from years of racial abuse, constant battles with white friends who think that reverse racism is actually a thing and the weight of being surrounded by a majority of people who will never understand how I feel. I have learnt that I need space. I need to be alone. We deal with things in our own unique way, and that’s okay. We are only human. Take the time you need to allow yourself to heal.
3. Respect your fellow humans. The constant body shaming, slut shaming and general bringing down of other people needs to stop. Think about how your words and/or actions might affect another person.
4. Get creative. This can be anything that interests you. Painting, writing, photography. ANYTHING! Or maybe you want to learn a new craft? When I was working part time, I really needed something to put my energy and spare time into. I looked online for ideas and mixed them with my interests. I started making jewellery and then moved onto making my own natural lip balms and lotions. It was easy, fun and stimulating!! And with places like Etsy, you have the opportunity to sell your unique product and make a few extra bucks too! (Hell yeah!)
5. Be the best secret keeper ever. I know this sounds juvenile, and I don’t mean you shouldn’t tell your friend if their partner is cheating on them. I just think trust is really important. People have always opened up to me, even if I don’t know them that well. I don’t really know why, maybe I’ve got a friendly face, but it means a lot. Trust is usually one of the first things we think is essential to any friendship/relationship. And it can be lost so easily. So listen to what others have to say, be non-judgmental and smile knowing that their secret is safe with you.
6. Self care. This is so important and so necessary. It’s defined as ‘treating yourself with care to ensure that you can cope with the events in your life’. It gives you time to yourself. Time to breathe.
7. Step out of your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean putting yourself in an uncomfortable position and hating yourself for it. (Because LOL, I’ve been there) Take baby steps. Try something you’re not used to. Take some dance lessons, go skydiving or pop your Karaoke cherry! Taking the deep breath before the plunge scares people the most, but stepping out of your comfort zone can be a wonderful and healing thing. Just don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, and make sure you’ve got a friend/s nearby for added support.
8. Learn to say “No”. Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll burn out if you’re always a “Yes” person.
9. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power right? A biggie for me is casual racism and unchecked privilege. It doesn’t seem too harmful, but when you’re on the receiving end of it day in and day out, it wears a person down. If you’re unsure, there’s plenty of info out there. All you need to do is Google it.
10. Listen to Black voices. If a POC (Person of Colour) tells you they are offended or hurt by something you or someone else said/did, listen to them. It really frustrates me when I see something like blackface, and go into detail as to why its offensive and I get the reaction “Aww nah that’s not offensive” or “You’re looking too deeply into it”. POC’s all over the world still suffer from systemic oppression and racism. You passing off a POC’s comments as invalid because you don’t agree with them IS oppression. If someone says it’s offensive and wrong. IT IS.
Wanna learn more about Tamika and her work at the Koorie Heritage Trust? Follow the link and show them some love! If you’re in Melbourne, head on over to Federation Square!
Phew, you humans are great.