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Indigenous Literacy Day





5 Father’s Day








R U OK? Day





Mid-semester break begins


International Talk Like A Pirate Day










26 Mid-semester break ends

September Equinox




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EDITOR’S LETTER Pareidolia, or more specifically ‘face pareidolia,’ is the illusory perception of seeing non-existent faces in inanimate objects. A recent study conducted by University of Sydney researchers found that we respond to these false faces in the same way we would to real ones. Essentially the ability to recognise and react to faces is an evolutionary need fundamental to the human condition. Although a face consists of all the same components; two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, faces vary greatly between individuals and are intrinsic to shaping our identity, our sense of self, and how we are perceived by the world. Faces communicate our emotions, embody our ancestors, and in 2021 unlock our phones. Which brings me to the theme for this year’s ethnocultural issue: face. This issue features stories from the culturally and linguistically diverse student body at Macquarie University. Thank you to all the cultural societies who participated and wrote about their communities and cultures, you can read about them in ‘The Campus Lowdown.’ I interviewed the incredible Allastassia Carter, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students’ Representative on page 36. Ally talks about navigating student politics, what her role entails, and her advice for creating a more equitable campus. I highly recommend reading her other contributions to this issue, ‘I Don’t Get It: Land Back,’ and ‘Mob: Ngulu,’ which respectively explore what this year’s NAIDOC theme ‘Healing Country’ means, and growing up as an Indigenous Australian. Sofia Ihsan touches on loss and pain in her article ‘Writing on the Wall: Grief’ in remembrance of the loved ones lost in the Pakistan mosque attacks in Lahore in May 2010. While ‘Stories from SlavSoc’ provides windows into the upbringings and experiences of members of the Slavic Society. Each issue a member of the Grapeshot team undertakes a challenge and this time around Ky Stewart’s challenge was to test out face masks during Sydney’s longest lockdown—skincare face masks this is, we don’t want to kill him. In ‘Dishes of the Diaspora,’ Jennifer Le takes you through a vibrant visual journey of Vietnamese cuisine. Lastly, if you’re into psychological thrillers, check out Nicholas Chang’s review of the Japanese New Wave film ‘The Face of Another.’ The masks featured on the section openers are actually real life masks hanging around my house which our Creative Director Sam van Vliet has replicated with amazing precision. The outstanding cover art that encases this issue is by our other insanely talented Creative Director Kathleen Notohamiprodjo. Jodie Ramodien, Editor-in-Chief

EDITORIAL & CREATIVE PRODUCTION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Jodie Ramodien DEPUTY EDITOR: Madison Scott CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Sam van Vliet CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Kathleen Notohamiprodjo NEWS EDITOR: Saliha Rehanaz CAMPUS NEWS EDITOR: Rayna Bland REGULARS/REPEAT OFFENDERS EDITOR: Eleanor Taylor FEATURES/CREATIVES EDITOR: Rhys Sage ONLINE EDITORS: Jaime Hendrie, Unnati Tayal EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS: Nikita Byrnes, Olivia Chan, Nicholas Chang, Nam Do, Lachlan Hodson, Jennifer Le, Grace Pham, Ky Stewart, John Taylor-Booth DESIGN ASSISTANTS: Rhys Sage, Neil Quisumbing SOCIAL MEDIA ASSISTANT: Nam Do

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Thomas Bienasz, Katya Buryak, Allastassia Carter, Tracyla Chehade, Tiffany Fong, Bogdan Guberinc, Sofia Ihsan, Nicole Juric, Isabella Kiparizov, Ola Kobialka, Charnel Rizk, Larissa Svetlov, Vivica Turnbull

COVER ART Kathleen Notohamiprodjo


EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Allastassia Carter, Marlene Khouzam, Amanda Mathews, Jay Muir, Amanda O’Neill, Ateka Rajabi, Eryna Tash



Mariella Herberstein

Melroy Rodrigues

GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wallumattagal clan of the Dharug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present, and emerging. We would like to extend those respects to all First Nations people reading. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.




NEWSFLASHES Ash Barty’s Wimbledon Win On 10 July, 2021, 25-year-old Ashleigh ‘Ash’ Barty defeated former Czech world champion Karolina Plíšková at Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament internationally. The scores in the three-set match were 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 against Plíšková in the Wimbledon ladies singles. This win made Barty, a proud Ngaragu woman, the first Australian to win the Wimbledon grand slam since Lleyton Hewitt’s win in 2002. More significantly, it made Barty the first Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s win in 1980. Evonne Fay Goolagong Cawley AC MBE is a retired professional tennis player, who ranked as the world number one in 1971 and 1976, and has an astonishing one-hundredtwenty career titles. Barty’s outfit was a tribute to the dress Goolagong Cawley wore fifty years earlier. Before that, Margaret Court won the title in 1963, and Lesley Turner Bowrey won it in 1964. Goolagong Cawley has long been a mentor to Barty, and said she was “chuffed” about the dress tribute. When interviewed from her Sunshine Coast home about Barty’s win, Cawley reflected on how she knew Barty would be “our next champion” when Barty was about 13-years-old, playing at the Australian Open. After her win, Barty said that “I hope I made Evonne proud.”


Cathy Freeman of the Kuku Yalanji and Burri Gubba peoples of north and central Queensland respectively, tweeted saying, “We are all so very proud of you.” Many compared Barty’s emotional collapse after realising her win to the historic image of Cathy Freeman seated on the Olympic track after realising her own win, 21 years apart. Both women carried the hopes of Aboriginal countries all over Australia on their shoulders, and both women were transformed into legends. Congratulations Ash Barty! Your win is a proud moment for our nation and demonstrates the beauty of Black excellence. by Nikita Byrnes

The Peace Festival

Ash Barty’s win was a win for all Australian women, but was especially significant to Aboriginal communities across the continent as they celebrated this victory at the end of NAIDOC week.

From the 16th – 26th of September this year, Raising Peace will be holding events celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace, which is observed on the 21st of September. The aim is to raise awareness about the day and to celebrate the concept at 107 Redfern St, Redfern. The event is planned to have exhibitions, talks, discussions, workshops, films, music, entertainment, and activities for children, which are all scheduled to take place in person; however, COVID-19 restrictions may change plans. Currently, there are also online events on offer, which will include short films, videos, speaker presentations, and discussion forums.

Media critics were quick to recognise that media outlets and reports only attributed Barty the title of “Australian,” erasing Barty’s Aboriginal identity, and the close link that she shares with Goolagong Cawley. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulated Barty in a Tweet, saying, “A great Australian champion. Australia is bursting with pride.” Little mention was made by politicians in their congratulations of the significance of Barty’s win for Aboriginal communities nation-wide.

2021 is especially important because it marks 100 years of peacemaking by International Volunteers for Peace (IVP), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom NSW (WILPF), and Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). Whilst it is uncertain what restrictions will be in place at the time, there is a clear effort to make the entire celebration accessible from home. It is the perfect event for university students and people who are interested in peace to go and learn more about what peace looks like in the contemporary world.

Writer Chelsea Watego wrote of the significance of Barty’s victory in The Guardian that it was a “moment of joy – but most notably Black joy, which hits differently than the sounds of ‘Aussie pride’ we are so familiar with.”

Visit for more information about the event. by Rhys Sage

restrictions on trade areas and stylisation. The Tribunal awarded legal costs to GAP but the American brand has not claimed those expenses. Clothing the Gaps was given until 31 July, 2021, to completely re-brand and sell all original merchandise that carries the old name. The brand continues to fight for equality and justice for First Nations peoples through the awareness brought by their clothing collections and to promote their “Free the Flag” campaign. by Nikita Byrnes

Stay at Home and Study

Clothing the Gaps Re-Branding The nationally-renowned business and brand, Clothing the Gap, has been forced to add an “s” onto the end of their name after a two-year legal battle with American corporate giant and clothing brand, GAP. The business has officially re-branded as “Clothing the Gaps.” Clothing the Gaps started out as word play on the Australian Federal Government initiative, Closing the Gap, which began in 2008. The objective and outcomes as of 2020 in the National Closing the Gap Agreement state: “The objective of this Agreement is to overcome the entrenched inequality faced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that their life outcomes are equal to all Australians.” Clothing the Gap began as a merchandise line after cofounders of the brand, Laura Thompson (Gunditjmara) and Sarah Sheridan (non-Indigenous) started a sociallyled health enterprise and business called Spark Health in October 2017. Just over a year later in December 2018, Clothing the Gap’s “OG” Collection was launched. The collection featured white t-shirts, as well as t-shirts in the colours of the Aboriginal Flag – black, red, yellow – featuring the brand name embroidered on the front. After filing trademark applications in April 2019, the brand received opposition to the applications from GAP (ITM) Inc, an American corporate giant and clothing brand, who gave the small Australian brand six months to transition to new branding. In July of that year, Clothing the Gap filed a Notice of Intention to Defend the Oppositions against GAP. However, in November 2020, the Trade Mark Tribunal’s Hearing Officer decided in favour of GAP.

Gladys Berejiklian’s stay-at-home order for Sydney has meant that students for Semester 2 will return to online classes. O-Week this year was held online on Discord. During this semester different workshops will be held on zoom on how to study, reference, research, and use library resources. They are fantastic resources and I recommend any student attend them in the future because there is a lot to gain. Sign up here: students. Studying at home can be hard. Very hard. There are so many distractions and sometimes cabin fever sends you spiralling. Macquarie University provides mental health assistance to those who are struggling. You can submit a CARE report to the university. On the university website the link is found under ‘Support’ and then ‘Counselling.’ You can submit a report if you have experienced anxiety, depression, housing difficulties, financial concerns, and a range of other circumstances. The university will be in contact with you about how they can help. If you are struggling with assignments, writing, or researching, you also have lots of options. Check in with StudyWISE, WriteWISE or Studiosity. My personal tips are to stay hydrated (water, coffee, and redbull), try out the ‘Pomodoro Technique,’ a time management method where you work in 25 minute blocks and give yourself a 5 minute break away from the screen in between those blocks, work in a quiet environment and if you feel stuck getting started write out a list of all the teeny-tiny steps you need to take to begin your task. Take it easy on yourself as well. Lockdowns are never easy and you are doing amazing just as you are! by Rayna Bland

In April 2021, the Australian business reached an agreement with GAP, who allowed the transition of “Clothing the Gap” to “Clothing the Gaps,” with



Grapeshot got in touch with Macquarie University’s cultural societies to find out more about the communities that make up our diverse campus. African Students Association Macquarie University African Students Association is a diverse and inclusive society which fosters community relations and social interactions with African students at Macquarie University. Our members are students from all nations in Africa but domestic students and other international students are welcome to participate and attend our events. We have had social events where we organise food such as barbeque, pizza, and last semester we had Nigerian food where students came and hung out, ate, played games and made new friends. We plan to do something different next semester such as bringing our students to strike or bowling. We’d like students to know that this is a place where they can have fun, share their experience of being a student from African roots and have a nice time during this stressful period. Our aim is to provide a safe space and host social events which help build interpersonal relationships within the African society here at MQ. By doing this we create a community of ubuntu (togetherness) at Macquarie University.

Chinese Students and Scholars Association Chinese Students and Scholars Association was established in 2012 with the purpose of helping our members from overseas integrate into the Australian community. We offer a platform for our members to communicate and enhance their social networks. Furthermore, the association is open to all Macquarie University students who are interested in Chinese culture. We have held numerous events such as “Cantonese Corner” to promote students’ knowledge of Chinese dialects. Furthermore, we also have a welcome party each semester for the students. We provide food and card games like UNO and poker during the party to entertain students.

Filipino Student Society (FSS) Hello kaibigan! If you love all things Filipino – eating food, the vibrant culture, karaoke, playing video games, watching anime, listening (or crying) to P-pop or OPM, or just love people in general, the Filipino Student Society of MQU is the perfect society for you. We welcome all university students to join us and participate in our fun events, both in-person and online, and access special student discounts at our favourite restaurants. Some of our highlight events include Palarong Pinoy, a Filipino street games tournament with our UNSW, USYD, UWS, UTS, and UoN friends, and FSS Got Talent, an annual talent show. We also hold weekly hangouts on our Discord server called Maligayang Mondays, where we play games, socialise, watch movies, sing karaoke, or form study groups. For all your student-life needs, we’ve got your back. We wish all current and incoming Macquarie students a smooth start to the new semester and be on the lookout for FSS MQU happenings.


CAMPUS NEWS Greek Association (MUGA) The Macquarie University Greek Association (MUGA) was formed in 1984 by students of Greek-Australian background to promote, celebrate and strengthen the Hellenic culture, history and values at Macquarie University and beyond. Throughout the early stages of our society’s formation in the 1980s and 1990s, MUGA has played a pivotal role in establishing Modern Greek Studies with the Faculty of Arts which proudly continues to this day. To broaden our engagement with the Greek-Australian community in fostering Modern Greek Studies at the university, the Macquarie Greek Studies Foundation was established in 1987. With a diverse committee of 12 members, including men and women in executive positions, and over 450 paid members, MUGA is the largest non-faculty student group at the university with members diversifying from both Greek and nonGreek backgrounds. MUGA prides itself in historically partnering and collaborating with organisations across the Greek community of Sydney including Combined Universities Greek Association (CUGA), National Union of Greek Australian Students Victoria (NUGAS), The Greek Orthodox Community of New South Wales and many more. Throughout the 37 years of our history, we have embedded our cultural values in supporting the St Catherine Greek Orthodox Church food donation drive, annually co-hosting the Polytechneio Commemoration with CUGA and raising funds for the Greek Studies units. Today, more than ever, MUGA continues to reframe and preserve the heritage of the Greek culture for an even brighter future of Greeks Studies at Macquarie University.

Hong Kong Student Association (MQHKSA) The Hong Kong Student Association of Macquarie University is operated by our volunteer student-members and serves their peers in a variety of ways. Our aim is to connect Hong Kong international students as well as locals and other international students by the common interest of Hong Kong culture. Together we can build a sustainable network that will enrich our university life and beyond. Members of MQHKSA can participate in sports events like the annual Inter-HKSA Sydney Game competing against other HKSAs in Sydney; entertainments like Mahjong and Karaoke and all sorts of other culturalexchange and tourism events. To make these events possible, all members are eligible to volunteer as a committee/sub-committee taking part in organising events as a team, which is a great opportunity to begin developing your personal skills that will benefit your future career after finishing at Macquarie University. MQHKSA is currently developing an online networking platform that will make connecting with other members with mutual interests easier, enabling them to form sub-communities like gaming, sports, production, music, arts and crafts, cooking, etc. This will therefore allow us to continue socialising with each other over the lockdown period while bringing together active members to plan for our future.

Indigenous Students Association (ISA) The Indigenous Students Association (ISA) is an independent student group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at Macquarie University. The ISA runs social events for our members (always accompanied by a tasty feed) in which we gather and share yarns in a safe social space. Due to COVID-19, this has proved difficult, but we have adapted and moved our social events online for our members! We are looking forward to more online events during Semester 2, so keep an eye on our social media accounts for all the details. We aim to foster relationships built upon acceptance, understanding, and knowledge sharing between our members. Our mission is to further empower Indigenous peoples and culture within Macquarie University and the wider community through the processes of reconciliation, cultural exchange, and education. @mq_isa on Instagram @MacquarieISA on Facebook


CAMPUS NEWS Myanmar Student Club (MMSC) For a newly enrolled student studying at Macquarie University, joining a university club or society is perhaps the easiest way to make new friends and explore diversity in Sydney. Macquarie Myanmar Student Association (MMSC) was established in 2018 to enhance the presence of Burmese students, to promote Myanmar culture as well as to create a family-like community for them. Our society is run by enthusiastic Macquarie Myanmar students and is a gateway to engaging with other Myanmar students across universities from all over Australia by providing support, networking opportunities, and information to newcomers. Twice every year, we conduct collaborative events together with other Myanmar student societies from Australian universities to celebrate Myanmar New Year (Thingyan) and the lighting festival (Vivid) in Sydney. Adapting to a new-normal lifestyle under COVID-19, the fresher welcoming event, casual hangout sessions, and end of semester events have been transformed into virtual sessions in recent years. We know it is hard to leave your communities behind when you travel overseas to study, don’t worry, we are here for you. Join our society group, we can guarantee that it is a great way to find your home away from home. To get more updates, please like the Macquarie Myanmar Students Club Facebook page. All you need to do to join is create a MMSC membership, any valid student ID from any university is accepted so please feel free to join us!

Pasifika Student Association (PSA) The Pasifika Student Association (PSA) connects the Pasifika students of Macquarie University and provides them with a space where they can celebrate their heritage, and the diversity and interconnectivity of the Pacific Islands. PSA aims to empower Pasifika students’ studying experience at Macquarie, by providing a social environment catered for Pasifika students by Pasifika students. PSA often holds a mix of social events where students can meet and interact with each other such as Sports Days, Film Nights, Bowling Nights, Trivia Nights or Pizza Nights at Ubar. PSA also cooperates with other Pasifika Student Associations from different universities for intervarsity events such as the Australian University Pasifika Association Conference (AUPAC). Follow us on Instagram

Persian Association (MUPA) Macquarie University Persian Association (MUPA) is a society focused on promoting and celebrating the culture of Iran and its many different people. The society is welcoming and open and boasts a membership of both Persians and non-Persians, with this openness extending into the society’s executive team with both Persians and non-Persians alike helping to run the society. The society holds regular events that feature food, games, movies, music, sport, and other cultural activities from Iran and has successfully adapted these events during lockdown with society zoom sessions featuring various fun games. The society is also focused on spreading awareness and educating the student body about Persian culture, history, and language, and welcomes anyone, regardless of nationality, religion, or familiarity with Iran and Persian culture, into the society.


CAMPUS NEWS Slavic Students Association The Slavic Students Association or ‘SlavSoc’ is one of the fastest growing societies at Macquarie. The fundamental purpose of the society is to celebrate Slavic cultures and our members’ shared cultural experiences. To be a Slav is an umbrella term, as the definition encompasses many customs, languages, and a diverse range of experiences. However, we converge as Slavic culture forges our image of self and is the lens through which we view and interpret the world. To instil SlavSoc’s fundamental premise, SlavSoc takes pride in our social events. Since our establishment 4 years ago, SlavSoc has held an annual cruise which is essentially a large boat party. This is highly anticipated and has been a huge success across all 4 years. On a smaller scale, SlavSoc holds pub crawls, partakes in social sports such as soccer (to which we were the winners of in our division) and our beginning and end of semester mingle, eat and drink events. The emphasis we place on social events is because Slavic cultures are inherently collectivistic, so what better way to bring Slavs together than to have a wholesome and hearty Slavic feast with great company. In the 2 years I have been president, I have learnt so much from our members and it has been such an honour to be a representative of this society. The people I have met inspire me and I can only imagine the great things our talented members will go on to do in future. You do not have to be Slavic to join our society, people of all ethnicities are welcome.

Sri Lankan Student Society Lanka MQ was established in 2016 and we aim to spread our culture through traditional and street foods that many of us Sri Lankans hold dear to our hearts. We are run by a tight knit committee that functions as one big family and we hope to develop strong bonds with new members joining us as well! Our most popular event is “Faluda Friday,” held at the beginning of the semester where you can enjoy a refreshing glass of rose-flavoured Faluda, topped with a scoop of ice cream and fairy floss. You can also grab some authentic short eats such as chicken or vegetable rolls and fish cutlets. Another crowd favourite event is “Kottu Arvo,” where the popular dish Kottu consists of diced roti and stir fried vegetables. We can’t forget the signature kick of spice! In the past we have had events such as “A night in Lanka,” which was a large party at the end of the year, filled with great food, music, and of course we will all be dressed up in our traditional Sarees and Sarongs. Although the current lockdown situation is far from ideal, we do not plan on slowing down! When times are tougher, the stronger we as a society must be. We will have social media challenges and exciting virtual events to stay connected. As a community, we love to enjoy good food with even better company. In the spirit of celebrating togetherness and sharing our culture, all our events are open to both Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans!

Thank you Amasha Amarasinghe, Natasha Balsdon, Catrina Bautista, Mike Chan, Hanieh Ebrahimi, Ola Kobialka, Oneli, Zeyi Shen, Shefali Sungker, Nerither Tausili, and Hayley Tzakos, for you wonderful contributions to the article. Find the full list of cultural societies at Macquarie University here: ​​ https://students.




TALKING STRONG BY MACQUARIE’S PRO VICE-CHANCELLOR DR LEANNE HOLT Dr Leanne Holt, Worimi and Biripai woman and Macquarie University ’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) has a new book, Talking Strong. Her book highlights the National Aboriginal Education Committee’s journey in changing Aboriginal education for the better.

​​ What is the main thing you want readers to take away from this book? Talking strong provides future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous educators with access to the important historical and political contexts that can inform future practice and relationships. The book is based on the journeys of the National Aboriginal Education Committee (NAEC) about the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education policy – from early childhood through to higher education. The book is set in the ‘70s and ‘80s which was a pinnacle time in the history of First Nations education in Australia and sets out how these foundational actions contributed to First Nations education today. It shares the experiences and insights of the First Nations scholars and leaders providing an awareness of past successes and challenges in the education of First Nations people at all levels of education. The voices of these First Nations leaders share and record a journey that will provide knowledge to future generations, inspiring the continuation of the enhancement and development of self-determination individually and as a community through education for First Nations peoples. It details the importance of the passion and expertise of educators and leaders to provide mentorship and hope for future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities through education. I really enjoyed writing the book as it tells such a positive story in relation to connecting First Nations communities into a national agenda; strong bipartisan relationships with governments; and the creation of excitement that access to education at all levels would provide a chance at a better future for First Nations peoples and communities. One of my favourite parts of the book are the stories shared by the members of the NAEC about future advice for the next generation of educators

and leaders, as well as memorable moments reflecting themes of self-empowerment, humour, leadership, personal achievement, challenges, and most importantly relationships.

Can you tell us what you admire most about The National Aboriginal Education Committee? The NAEC members inspire me. They created opportunities for access to education which led to employment and self-determination. Their leadership demonstrated to First Nations people and communities the possibility of achieving professional status as educators and leaders. The provision of role models for the next generation was an important part of the NAEC’s success. The networks that were established through the NAEC forums, meetings and the establishment of AECGs provided an enduring platform for a collective vision to put those possibilities into action. The NAEC members were mostly very young and early in their careers. The members were assigned a huge responsibility and unprecedented access to senior government officials and ministers in the portfolios of Education and Aboriginal Affairs. The history of the four terms and knowledge produced by the members had such a significant impact on the access to First Nations education that we continue today to build on their legacy. The stories told by members of the NAEC demonstrate the level of scholarship and expertise contributed to not just First Nations education but Australian education and society more broadly. Their stories exemplify Aboriginal people’s commitment to and passion for education, the sacrifices made, the relationships forged, and the ongoing striving for excellence through compassion and personal dedication aimed at ensuring a better future for First Nations peoples. It is ever so important that we never forget the past contributions of our leaders and ancestors as without knowing our past, we cannot truly define our futures. by Rayna Bland



Saliha Rehanaz recaps the anti-lockdown protests across Australia. On Saturday 24th of July, the empty streets of Sydney’s CBD were bombarded with over 3500 anti-lock down protestors. The people of Greater Sydney and its surrounding areas have been living in lockdown for more than 4 weeks now, as an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant continues to spread. On the day, central Sydney had been shut down for several hours as thousands of people had breached stay-at-home and restriction orders to march against the lockdown. An ABC News report mentions that close to 400 police officers were on duty during the protest. In the same report, NSW Police Minister David Elliott also says that 57 people have been charged for attending the anti-lockdown protest and that a strike force has been established to identify others who were present at the rally. Mask-less protesters shouted numerous chants, which included “Freedom” and “1000 cases tomorrow,” in an attempt to mock the daily case number updates from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Many protestors also brought their children, and carried signs saying, “Wake up Australia” and waved Australian flags. Others brought megaphones and screamed in unison in front of the NSW police officers’ faces: “We’ve got rights!” News reports suggest that the NSW police had rejected an application for the protest to go ahead, as the current public health orders do not allow people who are not from the same household to gather in groups of more than 2, except for exercise. The Victorian police also found themselves at the forefront of a similar situation, as more than a thousand mask-less protestors gathered in Melbourne’s CBD. Melbourne is currently in their 5th lockdown, and an ABC News report says that 6 people will be charged and dozens will be issued fines due to their attendance at the protest. In Brisbane, around 7500 people reportedly gathered in the Botanic Gardens to protest vaccines and COVID-19 lockdowns in other states, as Brisbane is currently not subject to stay-at-home orders. After the protest, NSW Premier Berejiklian said that protestors “should be ashamed.” At the press conference, she also told the reporters, “Millions and millions of people across our state are doing the right thing, and it just broke my heart that people had such a disregard for their fellow citizens.”

Besides photos of the streets of Sydney filled with people, another picture quickly grabbed the attention of residents all over Australia. The picture showed a man striking a NSW police horse. The popularity of the image allowed NSW police to identify and arrest Kristian Pulkownik, a 33-year-old man from Surry Hills. Sky News reports that Pulkownik refused to take a COVID-19 test after he was brought to jail and he is facing a range of charges which include joining or continuing in an unlawful assembly, committing an act of cruelty upon an animal, and breaching COVID-19 restrictions. Another personnel who has also quickly risen to fame is TikTok comedian Jon-Bernard Kairouz. The 26-yearold TikTok influencer amassed thousands of followers on TikTok for predicting COVID-19 case numbers accurately. For residents in lockdown, COVID case numbers presented by Premier Berejiklian are critical as it determines the length and potential ease of restrictions. However, when Kairouz began predicting COVID case numbers before they were announced by the premier, people on social media became fascinated. Kairouz was able to correctly guess the case numbers for 5 days in a row before he lost his magical touch. While speaking to Nova FM, Kairouz repeatedly claimed it was “simple maths,” however a large number of people suspect he had a source from inside NSW Health. The Australian reported an interesting sight from the protest on Saturday as Kairouz showed up and claimed himself to be “the people’s premier.” Kairouz addressed the masses of people, and exclaimed, “I must say I’ve crunched the numbers, I don’t think the cases are going to go up tomorrow. But from what I’ve calculated there’s over 50,000 people here today.” After Kairouz posted a video of himself speaking on Instagram, the comments section was bombarded. There were comments which shunned his actions such as, “There are people in ICU how selfish can you be?” and others that actually supported his attendance. The protest on Saturday has left people with a lot of emotions, and a common trend seen on people’s Instagram stories revolved around the same sentiment, “If you attended the protest, unfollow me, or let me


NATIONAL NEWS know, so I can unfollow you.” Aside from people on social media providing their opinion on the situation, academics and experts have also provided their insight and unpacked the situation. In an article for ABC News, University of Queensland political psychology academic Dr Frank Mols addressed that while the protests appeared large, it is important to keep the number of participants in context. “The biggest trick here is what is called pluralistic ignorance,” he explained. “That’s the majority who are doing the right thing, who are complying, suddenly believing that a large proportion of the population isn’t complying.” Dr Mols advised that leaders should present a bipartisan front, so that individuals do not filter health messages and information through a political lens. He believes the way to persuade people is to first step into their shoes to try to identify why they are reluctant to take that advice on board. “There might be a naive idea that the more evidence, the bigger the tables and graphs and the numbers, the more compelling it will be and that’s typically not the case, we know that from the research,” he said. ABC News also interviewed PhD candidate and University of Queensland Global Change Scholar Bernadette Hyland-Wood, who does research on crisis communication, if the protest was a sign that public trust has broken down. Hyland-Wood said that policymakers should avoid “lumping people together in one group.”


“Addressing those inconsistencies is very important, because if people feel they’re not being heard by politicians and their day-to-day realities are not contemplated in how the policies are set, that’s going to lead to lack of public trust,” she answered. She also believes that Australia’s slow vaccine rollout has added to “a dissolution in public trust.” Australia’s vaccination rate is a whole other discussion. With a widespread fear of getting blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine and strict eligibility requirements to apply for the Pfizer vaccine, a large population of adults under 40-years-old have no other option but to stay at home and wait. NSW police have said that there are currently rumours that another protest will take place in Sydney, despite some organisers having their social media accounts and pages shut down. However, NSW police have said that they will be prepared to take the appropriate actions to keep people safe if there were another rally. I write this in a state of limbo, where I am unsure whether I will be able to see my friends anytime soon or if I will be able to travel abroad to see my family. I am sure many others also share the same sentiment. However, what I do know is that we all need to be held accountable and understand that we are all in this together. Each of our actions matter in this global fight. I may not be able to tell you to stay home or force you to get vaccinated, but I do urge you to read the stories of all those impacted by COVID-19 and ask you to put yourself in their shoes and perhaps reconsider. Stay safe and stay home. by Saliha Rehanaz


#PALESTINIANLIVES MATTER Olivia Chan recalls the incident which caught the world’s attention and dives into the timeline of the complex history between Israel and Palestine.

May 7th. Dawn worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, a sacred site for Islam located in the Old City of Jerusalem, were suddenly disrupted by Israeli police. Rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas were used, leading to mass injuries; the Palestinian Red Crescent stated that hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in the process. Israeli police claim that they used force to ‘restore order’ in response to Palestinian ‘rioting’ after evening prayers. In response, the Islamic militant group controlling Gaza, Hamas, fired six rockets towards Jerusalem after giving an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw its military forces by 6pm that evening. As a result, Israel fired missiles at Gaza, leading to a descent into chaos. The Executive Director of UNICEF stated on May 12th that at least 14 Palestinian children and 1 child from Israel had been killed in the 2 days before. Continuing on a similar thread, the Secretary-General stated that “[t]he fighting has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis,” whilst highlighting an attack on a refugee camp in Gaza, leading to 10 members of the same family being murdered. “This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately.” The Secretary-General continued that de-escalation of the conflict was “an absolute must.” This situation arose in light of persistent protests in Jerusalem for several years. This was however recently further fuelled by the controversial decision to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Harrah, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. The decision came from the Supreme Court of Israel due to an adverse claim made by Jewish settlers on May 6th. Consequently, Palestinians protested in support of their families. This escalated into violent confrontations between Jewish and Palestinian protesters, which unravelled days ahead of the Israeli celebration of ‘Jerusalem Day’ on May 10th. The national holiday commemorates the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1967 after the Six-Day War. The Israel-Palestine conflict however sustains wounds that cut far deeper into history. The modern conflicts beginning from the 20th century arose due to the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, which segregated the fallen Ottoman Empire into separate countries, as signed and controlled by the British and the French. This consequently led to the control of Palestine under a British Mandate, which encouraged the mass immigration of Jewish people who eventually built the identity of Israel. Consequently, this led to many conflicts between the Jewish and Arab people in Palestine, which continues to this day. Please refer to the timeline for a greater in-depth history:


INTERNATIONAL NEWS Historical Timeline 1916: The Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the Ottoman Empire signed by the British and French.

1929-1937: Mass protests against immigration of Jews. 1936-1937: Great Arab Revolt – a rebellion against British-controlled Palestine largely induced by a mass influx of Jewish immigrants due to Nazi regime.

1947: Palestine problem was given to the UN. UN Security Council Resolution 181 introduced the Partition Plan for the British Mandate of Palestine. 1956: Israel massacres Palestinians in Qalwilya, Kufr Qassem, and Khan Younis.

1966: Israel massacres Palestinians in As-samu. 1970: Black September. A civil conflict between the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). 1976: Land Day (March 30). Israeli government expropriates thousands of donum (acres) of Palestinian land.

1982: Lebanon War erupts. Induced by Israel’s intention to eliminate the PLO.


1922: Ottoman territories placed under UK administration by the League of Nations. Territories except for Palestine eventually gained full independence. A British Mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration (1917), which expressed support for the establishment of Palestine as a national home for Jews, as they did not have a home nation. Subsequently, from 1922 to 1947, there was large-scale Jewish immigration, especially due to Nazi occupation. The British Mandate somewhat reflects Napoleon’s offer to provide Palestine as a homeland to Jews in 1799… 1948: Israel declared independence. 1948: Arab-Israeli War. Induced by the Declaration of Independence by Israel. 1949: Armistice made between Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

1967: Israel occupies the rest of Palestine; UN Security Resolution 242 was passed to call on Israel to withdraw from these occupied territories. 1973: Yom Kippur War. Arab coalition against Israel, a conflict lasting for almost three weeks. Consequently, UN Security Resolution 338 called for a ceasefire and for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in 1967. 1978: Camp David Accords. A series of agreements created following negotiations at Camp David, signed by Egyptian President and Israeli Prime Minister. Aimed to form a peace framework mainly by formalising Arab recognition of Israel’s right to existence, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces and citizens from the Occupied Territories of the West Bank.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS 1983: International Conference on the Question of Palestine (ICQP) adopted the following principles: The need to oppose Israeli settlements and Israeli actions to change the status of Jerusalem, the right of all States in the region to existence within secure and internationally recognised boundaries, and the attainment of the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. 1988: Lebanon War erupts. Induced by Israel’s intention to eliminate the PLO. 1993: PLO and Israel sign declaration of principles on interim self-government arrangements (Oslo I Accord). 1997: PLO and Israel sign an agreement that requires Israeli forces to partially withdraw from Hebron. 2002: Israel reoccupies Palestinian cities in West Bank in wake of the Second Intifada. 2002: UN Security Council affirmed a vision of 2 States, Israel and Palestine. 2007: Armed takeover of Gaza by Hamas (Palestinian militant organisation); Israel imposes blockade. 2009: UN Security Resolution 1860. Called for immediate ceasefire in Gaza War. 2012: Operation Pillar of Defense. Israel Defense Forces launched an eight-day campaign in Gaza. November 2021: Palestine granted non-member observer state status in the UN. 2016: UN Security Resolution 2334 about Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories since 1967 existing as a violation of international law passed.


1987: Mass uprising against Israeli occupation in Occupied Palestinian Territory (First Intifada), leading to mass injuries and heavy loss of life due to Israeli suppression. 1991: Madrid Peace Conference convened aiming to achieve a peaceful settlement through direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab States, and between Israel and the Palestinians based on Security Resolutions 242 and 338. 1995: PLO and Israel sign an interim agreement granting Palestinians some autonomy in certain parts of the West Bank and Gaza strip (Oslo II Accord). 2000: PLO and Israel renew final status negotiations at Camp David II Summit. 2000: Second Palestinian uprising against Israel (Second Intifada). 2006: War between Israel and Hezbollah (Lebanese political party and militant group). 2008: Operation Cast Lead (‘Gaza War’). Israeli offensive in Gaza killing over 1383 Palestinians. 2011: President of the State of Palestine submitted an application to Palestine for membership. 2014: Operation Protective Edge (‘2014 Gaza War’). Israel military operation in Gaza to restore national security. 2014: GA proclaimed International Year of Solidarity with Palestinian People.



TOKYO OLYMPICS CONTROVERSIES Nikita Byrnes takes you through the black female Olympic athletes who were the subject of many restrictions during the Tokyo Olympics. At the Olympic trials in June, 2021, US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100-metre race in 10.86 seconds, making her a gold-medal contender. However, Richardson tested positive for recreational marijuana use at the same trial event. As a result, she was given a one-month suspension from Team USA, barring her from competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Richardson gave a public apology on NBC’s breakfast news program, Today, afterwards. She stated: “I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I want to take responsibility for my actions. I’m not looking for an excuse.” Richardson also acknowledged that the reason for her use of recreational marijuana was as a coping mechanism for the recent death of her biological mother. She wrote in a tweet afterwards: “I am human.” American President Joe Biden made a statement about the suspension, saying “The rules are the


rules, and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules. And I was really proud of her, the way she responded.” The suspension sparked a range of critiques from all over America and around the world. American politician and Democratic Representative for New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wrote in a tweet that the suspension was “rooted solely in the systemic racism that’s long driven anti-marijuana laws.” Even conservative Donald Trump Jr. stated on Twitter that he believed Richardson should be able to compete. He cited his reasoning as being the fact that “weed has never made anyone faster.” Although there is no scientific evidence confirming that marijuana has any performance-enhancing capabilities, confirmed by the medical director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it is on the list of substances banned by the World AntiDoping Agency. This is because the list of banned drugs can include those that violate “the spirit of sport.”

INTERNATIONAL NEWS However, it was seen as significantly unfair as the drug is legalised in 18 US states, including in the state in which it was consumed by Richardson. Furthermore, Ocasio-Cortez cited the other major American sports which have removed penalties for marijuana use which include baseball, hockey, and football. Many compared Richardson’s suspension to the incident that took place in the same week, in which the International Swimming Federation (FINA) rejected Soul Cap swimming caps, designed for natural black hair and other diverse hair types. The Federation made a statement saying the caps did not fit “the natural form of the head.” Co-founder and chair of the Black Swimming Association Danielle Obe argued that the ban on Soul Caps confirmed a “lack of diversity” in the sport. She said: “We need the space and the volume which products like the Soul Caps allow for.”

detected during medical assessments in Italy, where they are training, as required by World Athletics. The 18-year-olds’ ineligibility was ruled on account of World Athletics’ policy on Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD). These hormone levels are entirely natural, in this case, and neither the athletes nor their families were aware of this condition. Athletes in these situations are forced by World Athletics to lower their testosterone levels with medications, to ensure “fair competition.” It seems to make sense when you consider the controversial but strict rules governing the differences between gender and sex in both national and international sporting arenas because of concerns of inherent advantages. However, if any drug violates “the spirit of sport,” doesn’t asking athletes to dampen their natural talents through drug use also violate “the spirit of sport?”

The original swimming cap was designed by the infamous Speedo 50, created to prevent Caucasian hair from intruding upon swimmers’ faces during a race. The ban sparked outrage on an international scale because, as Obe stated, “[hair] is a significant issue for our community.”

These are natural testosterone levels.

While FINA stated that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require […] caps of such size and configuration,” the Soul Cap company had actually partnered with the first black female swimmer, Alice Dearing, to represent Great Britain at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. It makes sense then, that the Federation would speak in the past tense, because they clearly are not up-to-date with their own forward-thinking community.

Make it make sense, as the kids say.

The founders of Soul Cap released a statement on Instagram, saying: “For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial. FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport.” They also included the hashtag #SwimForAll.

Are the Olympics not about finding the most natural-born athletic talents, especially considering the excuses for the strict rules and exclusions as exemplified with Richardson and Soul Caps?

Seeing each of these bans occur in the same week and solely upon black bodies, and specifically black women, has made many feel that the regulatory bodies are exercising their power to confirm systemic racism within sporting industries. It feels restrictive and conservative. In a practical sense, these bans are mostly impractical. In a symbolic sense, it is clear that these are judicial exercises of power aimed at promoting exclusion and restriction, and pleasing conservative parties. by Nikita Byrnes

Also, in this same week two female Namibian sprinters were ruled ineligible to participate in the women’s 400 metre running event at the Tokyo Olympics due to naturally high testosterone levels. The sprinters, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, were considered Olympic medal contenders. The sprinters’ elevated testosterone levels were





SESAME STREET WRITTEN BY JODIE RAMODIEN Come and play, everything’s A-OK, friendly neighbors there, that’s where we meet, can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street. Growing up I never understood the appeal of High-5 or The Wiggles but I always loved Sesame Street. It’s hard to pin down exactly why. I think I found Grover’s accidentprone nature and clumsiness both funny and relatable, I enjoyed Oscar’s perpetual state of grouchiness, and I was easily the annoying Ernie to my brother’s Bert. Hearing the old versions of the Sesame Street theme song evokes a wave of nostalgia. Like Scooby Doo, Sesame Street has been on air since the 1960s and is beloved by multiple generations, from boomers to zoomers. The idea for the show was conceptualised in 1966 during the Civil Rights Movement and following US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, a social welfare legislation which sought to end poverty in America. According to the Sesame Workshop, an independent nonprofit organisation, the founders of the show, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrissett, “had a simple but revolutionary idea: television could help prepare disadvantaged children for school. They taped educational advisors, researchers, television producers, artists, and other visionaries to create what would become the longest-running children’s show in American television history.” While the show’s universal appeal has endured throughout the decades, its initial target audience was “the four-year old

inner-city black youngster.” Sesame Street is based on the streets of Harlem in New York City which housed a historically black community and neighborhood. It was after a documentary Cooney produced about the Harlem pre-school program that she felt driven to becoming “absolutely involved intellectually and spiritually with the Civil Rights Movement and with the educational deficit that poverty created.” African-American Harvard professor and psychiatrist Chester Pierce aided the showrunners in creating a “hidden curriculum” which sought to “build up the self-worth of black children through the presentation of positive black images’’ and “present an integrated, harmonious community to challenge the marginalisation of AfricanAmericans that children routinely saw on television and elsewhere in society,” according to the Smithsonian Magazine. In 1970, The State Commission for Educational Television in Mississippi banned the show which The New York Times reported as having been “regarded as one of the leading pre-school educational television series.” The commission stated that reason was on “racial grounds” as “Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children.” What they mean by “ a highly integrated cast of children” is of course the fact that children of all races were being represented alongside one another. In response, a local affiliate from NBC shamed the commission’s decision and aired the show on their network instead.

Sesame Street was a revolutionary show from the outset that has inspired and educated young children for decades. It’s positivity and inclusivity make it as great a show for children in 2021 as it was for children in 1969.



TESTING OUT FACE MASKS WRITTEN BY KY STEWART Hey divas! I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t your fab-tab Regulars Editor Eleanor Taylor or Harry Fraser but instead Ky, an editorial assistant for the gorgeous Grapeshot you all know and love so dearly. I know this change-up is a shock and I hope all of you hardcore Harry stans don’t cancel me or tear this page from the mag out because of it (unless it is to create a stunning collage on your wall). Just think of me as the home brand version of Harry: cheaper, in bountiful supply, and with a weirder name. All in all, just keep your expectations low and we will be good. As Sydney has plunged into its strictest (and longest) lockdown yet, face masks have become an essential component of everyday life. There is currently no escaping the sea of blue shields that hide half of peoples’ faces. If you’re like me, the masks hide your glorious moustache, which is a bit upsetting but I’d rather add a bit of mystery to my appearance than getting, you know, a highly infectious disease. I’ve been given the honour to write the challenge for this issue which itself was a challenge. What am I supposed to challenge myself to do while COVID-19 is robbing me of my early 20s? The self-pity didn’t last long as it suddenly dawned on me what I could challenge myself to do as I watched the 11:00am Gladys update in a state of prolonged despair. Seeing all the masks, I thought there would be no better time than now to try every face mask that my local Woolies had on the market (online market obviously, I wasn’t about to make this a “see how long it takes me to get COVID while shopping for face masks challenge”) and no, I don’t mean the ones that keep our communities and loved ones safe. I’m talking about the good ol’ skincare face masks that are meant to turn me into a soft and supple goddess. I’ve tried face masks in the past but they aren’t part of my daily skincare routine despite several articles by Vogue telling me that I should be


doing them at least twice a week. But given my limited knowledge of face masks, and only wearing them when I’m with the gals, I thought I’d challenge myself to try a different type of mask every night for a week of lockdown. The thought that this might be excessive did cross my mind as I wondered if my skin would be able to handle that much moisturisation every night but those thoughts were met with the, “I have at least another four weeks of lockdown to fix my skin if all goes horribly wrong,” reasoning. A grim but reassuring thought. So off I went on the long journey to my online Woolworths store and bought seven different types of masks. I had no idea there were so many different types of face masks. Sheet, mud, charcoal, coconut, hemp, gold foil, and avocado masks were quickly added to my cart and off they went to my address. As sad as this sounds, the incoming order was my only source of excitement for the day so as soon as they came I ripped one open to try like an overjoyed child at Christmas. Whenever I wear a face mask I am always reminded of Alyssa Edwards in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2 when she wore a face mask before putting on her makeup, looking like Joan Crawford if she pumped her lips up and was a gay, balding man. I decided to try the sheet mask first and I was laying there looking like the gay version of Hannibal Lecter when I started to spiral. This mask didn’t fit my face exactly the way it should have and I wondered if the others wouldn’t fit either (spoiler alert: they didn’t). I mean, after all, I am a six foot four man with a beard and I don’t think I am

CHALLENGE necessarily the target market so they don’t factor in my large man-head when designing their masks. Everyone’s face is different, quite literally no two faces are ever the same. Even on identical twins, there are minuscule differences that separate them and give them their own identity. Not to get too deep here but how can there be a standardised face mask if there isn’t a standardised face? Is my face meant to be that small? Should I not have facial hair? Should my mouth and nose be closer together? It also made me think about those people who have different facial variations and a face mask wouldn’t align with the configuration of their face. What about those with skin problems? Do they just have to trial and error? That seems a bit unfair, especially when the ingredient list is difficult to dissect in layman’s terms. Are we just supposed to pop the masks on and hope that it doesn’t burn? Like at a sleepover when everyone thinks it’s a good idea to do face masks and five minutes in while everyone is relaxing Becky’s face starts burning; but she pretends it doesn’t because she doesn’t want to be a buzzkill and be all like “oh that sizzling sound is my skin melting underneath this mask.” I refuse to comment on whether or not I am Becky. All I will say is that about five minutes into the coconut mask I realised that I may perhaps be allergic to coconut as this burning felt unique and borderline anaphylactic.

facial masks using ground natural materials like pearl, jade, tea leaves, lotus flowers, and ginger mixed with water. To get that Kim Kardashian glow, the ancient Romans sometimes used human placentas to heal their skin. It wasn’t until Madam Helen Rowley patented her “toilet mask” or “face glove” in 1875 that we saw the beginnings of the modern face mask take shape even if it was discontinued due to it being a suffocation hazard. On day seven of using face masks, I asked myself the big question I know you’re all dying to know: have they even made a difference? The short answer is no. The long answer is also no. Despite my best attempts, I did not wake up looking like Bella Hadid. I might be a few face masks short of that. I will admit that in the twenty-five minutes I had the mask on, I felt rather zen, despite the coconut incident, probably because I couldn’t move my face and was forced to just lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Sure, face masks can be a fun thing to do with your friends and a relaxing once in a while thing but I don’t know if I can justify having it as part of my regular routine when I can get more use from a serum bottle.

Speaking of chemical burns, what is even in face masks? I did a little digging like any good journalist and went straight to google to find the answers to these mysterious little slimy sheets that are meant to give me flawless skin. I was rather surprised to find out that face masks actually have a vibrant history. Finding its origins in ancient India, participants in the holistic lifestyle of Ayurveda (life and knowledge) created a mask that they called ubtan. Ubtan was a face and body mask that consisted of fresh herbs, aloe vera, turmeric, and flowers with the ultimate goal of improving appearances and assisting in lifelong health. The ancient Egyptians similarly found the benefit in making facial masks made out of milk and honey and sometimes crocodile faeces (how exotic). Yang Guifei of the Tang Dynasty in China who was adored as one of the Four Ancient Beauties of China also made her own




The single-use blue surgical mask You are a stickler for the rules. You don’t want to take any chances or cut any corners but you also lack a bit of creativity. All in all, you are a safe queen.

Homemade masks You inspire me. You’ve taken this pandemic by the horns and made it your own. Your craft knows no limits and you probably spent much of the lockdown baking some delicious goods.


The single-use black surgical one Similar to the blue queens, you love to follow the rules and don’t want to risk anything. You especially don’t want to risk fashion for the sake of safety. The black adds a touch of elegance. Safe and chic.

Plain cotton coloured mask You are environmentally conscious and prefer to be both safe and comfortable. You love to mix and match your fashion and are always down to end the patriarchy whilst also being fashion-forward.

No face mask Choices. Probably also wears the Lorna Jane activewear that stops COVID-19 in its tracks. Sparkly/funky design masks You could defeat Thanos. You deserve the entire world and more. Even though we can’t see your face we know you are probably smiling. You are also probably a school receptionist or school counsellor.



I have been here. “Sheli sensli min rabitik, bet zammir el bab,” my father says to me in Arabic. Take your necklace off, it will beep. I remove my necklace from which a gold cross hangs and place it on the tray in front of me. The room is dull, the artificial lighting is gloomy. Walking through the security scanners I hold a bag of falafel rolls, which consumes the smell of the room. A sense of dread overcomes me, I’ve been here too many times. I follow my father through the corridor but I know this route well, I can navigate the building on my own. I know every field and court, every hallway and corner, every restricted and nonrestricted area. For one year, I have been visiting. The guards offer me their pitiful smiles, I am the source of communication between them and my father.

And if you must know, till this day, I cannot drive on Villawood road. Eat at Villawood McDonalds. Or think of Villawood. Don’t worry, I did not spend all of my childhood in the waiting room. I also played with my cousins at the park. We swung on swing sets, flew on flying foxes and, oh yes, got told to “Go back to where you came from!” by a cruel lady. Don’t worry, we continued playing. Reader, I could tell you about robberies and violence, racism and inequality, but that is continuous and you’d keep wondering when does it end? At 16-years-old, I decided I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to sing and act. But I felt stuck. You see Merrylands is where I grew up, Merrylands is where I studied, Merrylands is where I worked. But I never knew of any artist from Merrylands. Do you? Until one day I realised, I am the artist from Merrylands. Who has seen what I have seen? Who has felt what I have felt? At 21-years-old, I am here to tell you that I am here, I have always been here. In Merrylands I still reside. On hope, is how I survive.

Room 173, there he is. My uncle, my godfather, who has lived with us my whole life. Seated on a bed, dressed in a maroon track-suit uniform. He is now behind bars. In a place they call a “detention centre.” When he sees us, he smiles, always. This creates a glimmer of hope, how he survives. At 10-years-old, I did not understand. But I visited every-day because where I’m from, family is important. I wonder, reader, do you know about this centre which lies just off Villawood road? It’s quite hidden, it’s quite evil. In the waiting room is where I spent most of my time, doing homework, eating falafel, and celebrating Easter. Visiting hours opened at 5:00pm every day and so my parents ensured that every day we arrived at 4:30pm. But reader, life goes on. The system wins, my uncle gets deported and I continue growing.




Let’s face it: Australia’s prosperity and wealth are built on and benefit from Indigenous stolen land. The majority of non-Indigenous Australians do not understand that our country is a settler-colonial nation regarding its way of governance, societal attitudes, and oppressive treatment towards Indigenous people. Since the invasion, First Nations people have fought against settler colonialism for land back. However, the whole idea and understanding of giving land back has been misconstrued and twisted by settler-colonial governments and the mainstream media. So, what does giving land back actually mean and look like?

This is only an opinion piece; it is important to recognise the diversity of Indigenous peoples, teachings, governance and lived experiences, and how these can contribute to different opinions on this issue. *** As Indigenous people, Country is our home, Mother, and caregiver. Country is where our sacred sites are, where our ceremonies are held, and where our ancestors once walked. From the beginning of the British invasion, settlers understood that in order to access the lands to generate wealth and power, they would need to destroy the relationship between Indigenous people and the land. To destroy the relationship, settlers used violent and strategic tactics such as assimilation, dispossession, and genocide. Specific examples include the spreading of diseases, starvation, and forced relocation onto missions, stations, and reserves where their lives were controlled. In addition, assimilation policies that sought to ‘breed’ out Aboriginal people and the forced removal of children from their families were acts of elimination that allowed for settlers to vacate Aboriginal land and render it as their own. Settlers used, and continue to use, systematic tactics that aim to destroy the relationship we have with our sacred lands. White Australians believe that ‘land back’ means physically giving it back. However, giving land back means that First Nations people have full autonomy, are able to care for Country,


and are the final decision-makers surrounding their land. Settler colonialism twists this notion to make non-Indigenous Australians believe that ownership of land is physical when in reality, it is spiritual and cultural. We have a responsibility as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose ancestors cared for Country for 65,000+ years, to continue this caring. There are people in power who will do anything to avoid having a frank discussion on land and water sovereignty. When they hear the words ‘land back,’ they offer alternatives such as more government representation, one singular voice in Parliament to represent all Indigenous peoples or good old consultation. However, we are currently trying all those things, and it still isn’t working because people are not listening. If we look at this year’s NAIDOC theme, Healing Country, for example, it is complex and multifaceted. It is both sacred and spiritual, meaning that to heal Country means healing ourselves, ancestors, and cultures. However, the theme was exploited by white institutions, businesses, and organisations who used the theme for their own gain and to perform fake allyship. Take Santos, for example, Australia’s second-largest independent oil and gas producer. During NAIDOC week, Santos tweeted about the theme, emphasising how they focus on “reckoning, protecting and maintaining all aspects of culture and heritage for all Australians” even though they destroy Indigenous land. Currently, Santos is ignoring Indigenous people and is trying to mine on Gamilaraay lands in Narrabri, where land and waterways will be destroyed. The Morrison government showed how they’re healing Country by handing $21 million to an oil and gas corporation which, instead of healing Country, actually destroys waterways, land, and culture. So, while Indigenous people and our allies discussed how to heal Country, the settler-colonial government and mining companies were actively seeking out ways to destroy Country. For us to effectively heal Country, we need land back. We cannot heal our Mother when we don’t have the opportunity to do so, especially when Country is being exploited for profit, not healing. The government selling stolen land to mining companies is not healing Country. Country can only be healed with Indigenous law and ways of governance. Telling us to heal

Country while our Mother is being exploited is like shackling our ankles and wrists together and telling us to jump. Giving land back means that we can stop our environment from being destroyed and exploited. Notably, giving land back means that Indigenous sovereignty is fully implemented to protect, sustain, and strengthen Country. Considering all this, non-Indigenous people need to understand that land back is about much more than land. Land back is about Indigenous people protesting and fighting against colonialism, and its institutions and structures that oppress our people. It’s about fighting for the right we have to our relationship with Country. Importantly, it’s about caring for Country as our ancestors once did and continuing our culture. In order to progressively move forward, nonIndigenous people need to work on their relationship and reaction to giving land back. Every time Indigenous people take steps toward land back, we are pushed two steps back. The amount of times I’ve seen and heard nonIndigenous people react in panic, anger, guilt, or straight-up ignorance around giving land back is ridiculous. Their willingness to stick to the narrative that Australia wasn’t built on violence and that Indigenous people didn’t fight back allows for them to maintain ownership of Indigenous lands. Importantly, Australia’s settler-colonial state has been created to resist Indigenous relationships to land. Colonial governments are afraid of the relationship that Indigenous people have with the land as it creates questions around the legitimacy of power and may lead to their wealth and systems being dismantled. In addition, the individual reactions to land back reflect colonial-based systems that have been intentionally embedded to resist and destroy Indigenous relationships to land.

continuous connection to Country. Follow Indigenous people on social media who discuss this topic and other issues facing our people. Here are some to get you started: • Gamilaraaynextgeneration on Instagram • Gudhigudhi_ on Instagram • Ancestress on Instagram • Endlessyarning on Instagram • Yilinhi88 on Instagram • Boeknows89 on Instagram • Blakbusiness on Instagram • Offically_underrated on TikTok • on TikTok • Sari_ella_thaiday on TikTok Research the Native Title Act and its limitations. Learn the truth of our history and research moments where Indigenous people have fought back against colonialism. There is an excellent podcast called Frontier War Stories that discusses Aboriginal resistance during invasion. Listen to First Nations voices and amplify them. It is important that you stand alongside us as we fight for land back. These are only a few simple steps that you can take to help First Nations people within the country you live in. Although you may not currently fully understand, please take the time to listen, learn, and decolonise your mindset. Lastly, just a friendly reminder to end on – you’re on Aboriginal land, so please respect it.

So, to the non-Indigenous people reading this​​ – take the time to decolonise your mindset and unlearn the narratives that settler-colonial governments, media, and the education system have taught you. Here are some ways you can begin to decolonise and be a better ally: We all live on Aboriginal land, so find out whose land you live and work on. When you’re travelling to different parts of Australia, research whose land you’re on and acknowledge their




WRITTEN BY ALLY CARTER I stare at the face of the woman standing in front of me. She has hazel eyes, high cheekbones and dark hair from her father, light freckles from the sun, mixed skin from the blackness of her Aboriginal father and whiteness of her mother, and light lines that come when she smiles. This is the face of my mother. The face represents a strong, resilient and driven woman who has overcome hardships but has always been too stubborn to give up. A face that belongs to the woman I admire most because even after everything she has experienced, she can still give me the love and support a young woman needs. Growing up, I always thought I couldn’t be more like my dad if I tried, but now I realise I also resemble the strong woman I call Mum. I stare at the face of the man standing in front of me. He has big blue eyes that he got from his Swedish grandfather, high cheekbones from his father, dark skin from his parents, hard lines from hardships, and a big smile he’s always got for his grandbabies. This is the face of my Aboriginal grandfather. The face represents a strong, proud, and stubborn Gamilaroi man who grew up on a station where he often had to hide to avoid being taken away. A face of a man who was not provided with the same opportunities that I’ve been given. It’s the face of a man who always tells me to be proud of being Aboriginal. A face that looks down at me with admiration and pride. I stare at the faces of two Aboriginal women in the photographs in front of me. One of the faces is dark with big lips and brown eyes she got from her old people, lines that come with age, and she’s wearing a headscarf which I’ve been told she always wore. This is the face of my great-great-grandmother. It is a face that belongs to an Aboriginal woman who married a Swedish man, the same man who gave my great-grandfather and grandfather their blue eyes and big ears. A face of an Aboriginal woman who grew up on Pindari station, the only reserve in the New England region until it was turned into a station in 1910. The ‘Aborigines’ Protection board managed Pindari station,


controlling my great-greatgrandmother’s life and earnings. It’s the face of a woman who was forced to work when she turned 14, as was the rule on the station. The other face has light Aboriginal skin, kind eyes, and a small smile. This is the face of my great-grandmother, whom I am named after. This face belongs to a woman whose story I do not know but someone I know who many people adored because of her kindness. The face of someone who had to hide her children so they wouldn’t be taken away. This face is an Aboriginal woman who died in her forties before she had the chance to hold her first grandbaby. These faces belong to two women who I know would be proud of the person I am. I stare at the faces in the photograph in front of me from my 21st birthday. I stare at my uncle, a proud Gamilaroi man, and his young daughter, who gets her pride from him. I stare at the face of my brother, eyes mixed with blue and green, dark hair, and big lips. The face of yet another proud Gamilaroi man who fights nonstop for our people. A face that I used to hate (in a sibling type way, of course), but now, it is one that I turn to seek advice, have a classic Ally rant, or just to chat. A young face that was the firstborn of my parents when they were just teenagers. A young face whose parents worked so hard to provide their children with an upbringing they never had and from this, is the first person in our family to graduate from university. A face that cops the same ignorant racism that I do, such as “Oh, what percentage are you?” – “You can’t be Aboriginal; you have white skin” – “How far back does it go?” – “You’re not a real Aboriginal.” A face that somehow inspires me but also still annoys me, especially when the bedroom door is left open upon exiting. These are only a few faces of my Aboriginal family. I stare at the face of the man in front of me. The face has blue eyes from his father, tanned skin from the sun, an intimidating stare he got from years of being tough, a beard he’s got because

MOB he doesn’t like shaving and a slight smirk from making himself laugh after saying one of his classic cheeky comments. This is the face of my father. A face that belongs to a hard-working man who came from absolutely nothing and provided his children with everything he didn’t have growing up. A man who inspires every young male to whom he tells his story. A non-Indigenous man who raised his two Indigenous children to be proud of being Aboriginal and took their journey of Aboriginality with them – learning their culture, stories, and history as they do. A man who didn’t finish school but got dressed up in his nicest striped shirt and chinos to help me with my interview at the all-girls school I ended up going to for years 11 and 12 because he wanted to provide me with the best education and experience. The face of a man who I always turn to because I know he’ll do anything in his power to help me. I look at the face in front of me. The face has blue-green eyes like her big brother, a smile like her dad, freckles and straight brown hair like her mum, ears that poke out a little like her pops, and a face that is often deemed intimidating, which she also got from her Dad. This face is my reflection as I look in the mirror. The face of a young woman who once struggled with her Aboriginal identity in primary school. A young girl who did not see her Aboriginality as powerful because her non-Indigenous peers told her otherwise. A young girl who was too nervous to go on Aboriginal camps because she thought she wasn’t blak enough. Someone who every year, on school photo day, would return to class from the photo they took with the other Indigenous students and face the questions: “Are you really Aboriginal? You’re white,” and “What percentage are you?” without them knowing the extent these questions affected my identity. As I stare at my reflection, I think about the complexities of my identity and how much I’ve grown as a person.

and a part of the world’s oldest surviving culture. I see a young woman who no longer struggles with her Aboriginal identity because of the colour of her skin as she knows that being Indigenous is about connection to culture and Country, two things she’s proud to have. A young woman who no longer retreats away when someone questions her Aboriginality or says a racist remark but instead now stands tall and confronts them. She is a young woman who will always support the Indigenous people around her and constantly hype them up to know their worth and strength. Most importantly, I see the face of a young woman who is proud of her Gamilaroi culture and heritage and grateful to know her lineage. I hope when you look at the face of the next Indigenous person you speak with that you don’t question their identity, history, or lived experiences. When you look into their eyes, I hope you respect that Aboriginal identities and experiences are complex, multifaceted, and valid. I hope you listen to the stories and experiences of mob from all walks of life, such as the ones who attended university and those who didn’t; the ones who are single mothers and fathers; the ones who grew up in poverty; the ones fighting for their community; the ones who experience everyday racism; and the ones whose Elders taught them culture and those who have been deprived of this due to historical treatment and events. We need to listen to these voices that broader Australia silences. I hope you now understand that Indigenous people’s experiences, struggles, and stories are diverse and that I have only offered a small glimpse into mine. Importantly, next time you’re looking at the face of an Indigenous person, I hope you see and feel the 65,000 plus years of power and strength coming from their ancestors that always stand behind them.

I see a young woman who is proud to be Aboriginal



GRIEF WRITTEN BY SOFIA IHSAN I’m walking alone. Head down, I watch my feet scuffing across the wet ground, creating ripples in the water that’s been collecting on the concrete... circles and swirls that shift and morph the street lights into an abyss of color. I can feel the water seeping through my coat, my clothes heavy with the rain, but I really don’t care. There is more to life than caring whether or not you have wet clothes. There certainly was more to life. I am not sure if there is anymore. I want to scream into nothingness. I want to scream so loud that the earth beneath me throbs in the same pain that runs through every crevice of my head. I try. I try to conjure up a voice but it is blocked by a burning sensation in my throat and dry, cracked lips. My body shudders beneath the chilly air that starts to blow on my wet clothes. I find myself hurrying back on a familiar path, sneak in through the back door and gulp down a glass of water. My throat still burns and I wonder if it was ever because of an unquenched thirst. I rid myself of the wet clothes. They don’t bother me but uninvited questions and unwelcome sympathy does. I open my laptop that I have not touched in days and the BBC page from fifteen days ago is still open on my browser. The Headline reads: “Pakistan mosque attacks in Lahore kill scores.” My grandpa and dad were there at the mosque. My dad survived and grandpa didn’t and the news calls him a number... one of the eighty-six worshippers who were killed. He is not a number. None of those people can be reduced to a number. They were living beings with families and friends and passions and dreams. They were children and parents and grandparents. A tear escapes my eyes and I know many more are coming... probably a hundredth of those that I have cried in fifteen days. I heard my mum telling my aunt how proud she was of my dad attending the Friday prayer the a week after the attack in the same mosque. I tried to find the same feeling inside me that day, the feeling of pride like those families have when they send their sons and fathers to wars. I instead felt fear. How do you deliberately let your loved ones walk into a battleground, unarmed, only with prayers and well-wishes? Someone wakes up. I hear footsteps and I eye my door, ensuring it’s shut. I do not want to have a warm conversation with anybody. They don’t feel what I feel. The shawl that I had draped around my head was used to cover my grandpa’s dead body at the morgue. They cannot tell me what to feel. *** It’s the next day and I wake up with the sounds of chatting and laughter. I go to the source of it only to find my family, both immediate and extended watching TV and making casual conversation. My uncle spots me and greets me good morning. My mum asks me what I


would like to have for breakfast. My younger cousins run around playing some form of chase. How? I ask myself. How is this so normal? I turn around to go back to my room. My mum follows me and stops me with a gentle hand on my shoulder. I look at her and I know what she wants. I walk to the living room and join the world of ‘normalcy’ all the while looking at mum’s hair hinting of greys that were not there fifteen days ago. *** “They entered the main prayer hall and I saw Abu (Dad) slowly standing up from his chair. I wanted to get to him but people around me rushed me out. That was the last I saw of him.” My dad reiterates the story of the day of the attack for the umpteenth time to another guest that I don’t recognise. “I am so sorry for your loss. Your father was an amazing man. Do you know he is the reason I quit smoking,” the guest tells my dad. “Yes yes, I smoked like three packs a day, forgot to eat but never forgot to smoke,” the man continues saying. “Your father, may God bless his soul, he always used to come around to my street on his evening walks. He brought lollies and chocolates for my kids. Then he started bringing them for me too and he said to me that I’ll bring lollies for you everyday if you quit smoking.” He smiles while talking, the kind that reaches his eyes and I wonder about the last time any of us smiled that way. “What a man, what a man. I thought to myself, this man who barely knows me, only sees me in the street smoking and makes small talk with me, cares enough for me to stop me from smoking through all these cute gestures... that was it for me, I started reducing from that day and I am two and a half years smoke-free today.” There is your living being. Not a number. A walking, talking, positive difference-making human being. *** My mother tells me to invoke sabr which translates to patience and perseverance in English. She tells me Allah likes those who practice sabr. I chuckle. It comes involuntarily. She strokes my face with her hands and then runs her fingers through my hair while I rest my head on her lap. “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and the fruits of your toil. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord, and mercy. They are the ones who receive guidance.” She recites verses from the Quran and translates them for me. I try to find perseverance in my heart. I only find anger.

WRITING ON THE WALL I used to go on evening walks with my grandpa on weekends as well. He would ask me to notice the ants on the sides of the streets. We would stare at the ants for minutes, watching them take tiny bits of food to their little holes. He was fascinated by how systematically the ants worked. He always told me that it is integral to have organisation in one’s life. It is as important as food and water. If we are not organised, we will never win in life. “Look at these little creatures, if they can understand the importance of time management and organisation, then us humans can too,” he once said to me. He also used to ask me to read his favourite poetry to him. It was not because he couldn’t read. No, he was an intelligent, well-read man. He said he liked me reading to him. Now that I come to think of it, it was just his way of teaching me, nurturing me, ensuring that I explored and gained all the knowledge he could provide me. The words of his favourite poem find their way to my mouth involuntarily: “Tu hai jo palta hai.” You are the sole nurturer. “Har dam sambhalta hai.” You are my care-taker. “Gham se nikalta hai.” You are the one who takes me out of grief. “Dardon ko talta hai.” And the one who casts away all my pains. Fresh tears find their way out, my eyes burn and I groan in an ache that I cannot distinguish is mental or physical. I hear the sound of my heart beating in my ears, my stomach churns… stumbling, falling, I run to the washroom. The pain continues... *** I go to my school one last time to sign out. I have to move in with my grandparents from my mum’s side. Mum and dad have to work something out. It’s not safe for us here anymore. Miss Ayesha offers to take photos of me and my friends on the digital camera dad forced me to take to school. “Go, capture some memories Sofia.” The very thing I am struggling not to keep. Memories. We pose and I smile as Kainat pulls up bunny ears behind Fatima. It’s the first one since that day. Grandpa used to say “Sofia” when he was asked to say “cheese” for a photo. He used to say “when I say Sofia’s name, the photograph comes out better, always. I smile a little wider.” I smile and laugh and we click loads of photos. I laugh and talk and we eat samosas from the school canteen and empty our water bottles, yet our mouths burn with the green spicy chutney that we refuse to stop eating. My eyes water and for the first time in days, it’s not tears.

I am done packing in order to leave for my grandparents’ place. They live 81.9 kilometers away from us in a small town called Pattoki. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have spent half of my life in Pattoki. All holidays, festivals, times of happiness and mourning. This time it’s different. I am not going to spend a vacation. I am going there perhaps to... survive. There are millions of Ahmadis in Pakistan who live in danger of their lives. My grandpa was one of those who lost theirs for their faith. No, he was not a religious fanatic or a militant openly inviting trouble. He was just saying his Friday prayer in his mosque. “While the Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim and follow all Islamic rituals, they were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan in 1973, and in 1984 they were legally barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims. Members of the community have often been mobbed, or gunned down in targeted attacks,” says the BBC’s Muhammad Ilyas Khan in a BBC news report on May 28th, 2010. I take a last look at my house. The unpainted bricks and undone floors make for the prettiest site for me on Earth for it’s the moments, the joys, the sorrows, the countless days and nights that make this place home and I am leaving it behind to probably never see it again. I sigh, it is not followed by tears or an urge to scream. I sit in our grey Suzuki Khyber and we drive off. *** My cousin keeps a journal of poems, writing excerpts and quotes that she finds on the internet. She opens up a page and asks me to read it: “As far as I see, grief will never truly end. It may become softer with time, more gentle, and some days will feel sharp. But grief will last as long as love does... forever. Some days the heavy fog may return, and the next day, it may recede, once again. It’s all an ebb and flow, a constant dance of joy and sorrow.” — Lexi Behrndt I go out on the street. It’s dark and it’s raining. There are barely any street lights here. I tread my way in the little light that emanates from the windows of houses. Water seeps through my clothes. I open my mouth and take my tongue out, trying to catch a rain droplet on it. I feel satiated. I hear my cousins calling out to me: “Never enjoy the Monsoon alone.” All of them run to me and join me under a rainy sky. I don’t want to run away from them. I do not want to bear the burden alone anymore. I let myself get carried away in their giggles. If I am alive and I am here, there must be more to life.





FACE My big sister took me to get my face waxed for the first time when I was 11, I remember it hurting a lot. I did not understand why people would go through this pain. I didn’t have a problem with my eyebrows, but my sister sure did. That was no secret. My mind began to spiral, nit-picking every feature on my face. I thought that if my sister thought these things, then what must everyone else think? At this time of my life, I was getting ready to move to boarding school in Sydney away from my home in remote NSW. My parents gifted me with my first phone and sent me to the convent. Saying this out loud does sound a bit like the plot of Emma Roberts’s 2008 film Wild Child, Except I was not a wealthy blonde girl. I was and still am a proud Gunu Barkindji and Ngemba woman. I am blessed with my melanin skin, my brown eyes, and curly hair, but as an impressionable 12-year-old I wanted nothing more than to fit in. Like most private schools in Sydney, you can estimate with the eye that 90% of the students are white. In this sea of students, I struggled to find my features in others which left me feeling isolated. I felt trapped by the ‘Typical Australian Girl.’ The girls with straight blonde hair, tan skin, and blue eyes. Those faces filled the school halls and my Instagram. I started to conform by manipulating my facial features to match the eurocentric beauty standard. I now know this as featurism which is a prejudice towards certain features in individuals and a preference towards those with features that fit the beauty standard. Featurism differs from colourism as it extends past skin colour and delves into features, often reflecting a race of people. Waxing my eyebrows was just the beginning of the internalised featurism that would only continue manifesting within me.

For my 13th birthday, I was given a hair straightener that would soon become my most prized possession. No one in my year group had hair like mine and I felt embarrassed by my curly hair, As people loved to touch it. I would almost immediately straighten my hair after washing it, I remember the hot iron making my damp hair sizzle. Over time, this made my hair as dry as steel wires on a cattle farm. I even went as far as bleaching my hair to be blonde despite the hairdresser’s opinions. I villainized my hair because it never looked like the other girls. I thought I needed to look like them to be beautiful. I would get so frustrated with my hair because I never properly knew how to take care of it. In 2016, there was little diversity on social media and at my new school. Coming from a remote community with a high level of Aboriginal people to Sydney was a huge change for me. I felt like I had to change my features to fit in. For so many years this was the standard of beauty, but as social media developed it has become more diversified. When I was 16, I remember discovering an Instagram account named @Jaymejo and looking at her curls in amazement. She is a Lebanese Australian and her content focuses around how to take care of curly hair and now I wear my curly crown out proudly. Aboriginal content creator Tallulah Brown from the Gomeroi nation has helped me embrace my ‘wild’ eyebrows as I have let them grow thick. Featurism blinds people of their own beauty and the beauty in others. It is important for the wellbeing of BIPOC children that they see their own features being portrayed in the media as beautiful to avoid deeply rooted featurism. by Vivica Turnbull


IN BETWEEN TWO WORLDS... Melting ice cream, scattered snack packets and the deafening laughter and chatter drowns the ticking of the clock. She eyes towards the packed suitcases and then to the sleepy eyes and warm smiles in front of her. A yearning in her heart arises, an ache she had been suppressing, tears that she had been controlling. “I don’t wanna go…” she says in a meek, almost inaudible voice. They all stop and look at her, as if waiting for her to say this very sentence. As if even through all the noise, they were listening for her silence, waiting for her to form words. Nobody responds. Mourning lingers in the air. She stands up and paces to and fro, almost wanting the room to be bigger than what it is so the space could engulf all that she feels. Visibly frazzled and exhausted, she plonks herself down on a chair and starts to sob uncontrollably. “You… you… okay? You alright?” One of them asks her, placing a gentle palm on her heaving shoulder. She lifts her head up, angered black eyes, moist with tears, boring into their helpless souls.


“It’s time,” she says and drags a suitcase out of the room with her. The rest of them follow with her luggage to the car. Formalities of hugs and good-byes are exchanged with some embraces lasting too long for oxygen to remain. She drives off with her father, taking in all the scenes that the dark night and her teary-blurred eyes allow her to. They will all leave too. They have to. This soil, this land, this country never promised us a forever. That is the destiny of the persecuted. The need for migration claws up to us and digs us off our roots and plants us into new soil, foreign soil that bears no familiarity, just a hope of survival. It has been eight years. That night still haunts me and not in a 2:00 am nightmare kind of way. Memories creep up on me in the middle of a busy afternoon when I am intently listening to Mr Shaun Wilson’s lecture podcast about the social dynamics of inequality. That night replays in front of my eyes when

one of my ‘oblivious from reality,’ naive and privileged students from the school I work at says, “How horrible was World War II. I am glad there are no wars in the world anymore.” I am drawn to think about it when a fellow university mate from the same ethnic background as myself says he is raised in Australia, when I ask him where he is from. I ask what age he moved here and he replies, “thirteen.” I feel an uninvited gut-wrenching anger and I don’t identify the source immediately. I was thirteen years old when I had to flee to Australia with my family. I was not raised here. I was raised in a place where my mother-tongue was the preferred language and where Eid was a public holiday. But it still remains as difficult a concept to explain to them as it was eight years ago when a friend of my mom asked me why I missed Pakistan. “That country took away your grand-father. You were in danger there. Our community lives in constant danger there,” she said. Try explaining that to a thirteen year old whose accent was not mocked upon in her native country, who missed the smell of soil when it rained there, who would do anything to have those winters sitting in a quilt with all her cousins laughing at the lamest jokes while eating peanuts. I try to shake that night away from my mind. The first time I was successful in doing that was during a year eight school formal assembly. Lost in the chorus of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ it occurred to me that I had fallen in love with this country, this new home of mine. That feeling has

Sorrows of that night follow me. Thoughts come and go of what could have happened and what could have been if we didn’t migrate. Would we even have been alive? Would we have been living in hiding? Or would we have thrived and lived normally in between our own people. There is no way to know. “Distinguish melancholy from sadness… You need to breathe. And you need to be,” Albert Camus states in his autobiography Notebooks (1935-1942). I don’t let go of memories, of what was and what could have been, nor I separate myself from the reality of what is and what will be. I bask in the radiant Sydney sun eating a Zooper Dooper viewing its reflection in the water at Parramatta riverside park. I think of melting ice cream, scattered snack packets and deafening laughter and chatter. by Sofia Ihsan

stayed with me. I have grown to love and respect this land that has given me and my family a new life. I have done my best to fit in. Sydney suburbs are awake early morning and bathing in the warmth of a fierce November sun. I catch the 611 bus to my university for a session two exam. Outside the exam room, I exchange casual “good mornings” and “the weather is so hot today” with some of my classmates. One of them responds with “I know, man I wonder how you handle your head-covering in such heat.” I look at her. I don’t see any mocking or racism, just an innocent curious wonderment. I go back to that night. Then I go back to many days and nights back in Pakistan. My family was proud, and my friends had a newfound respect for me when I started wearing a hijab. I never had to try to fit in. I just did!



Could you tell me a bit about yourself? My name’s Allastassia Carter, and I’m a Gamilaroi woman from a small rural town in North-West New South Wales, Moree. I grew up and went to school in Moree from kindergarten to year 10, and then I was fortunate enough to attend boarding school on beautiful Anaiwan Country in Armidale for years 11 and 12. I’m currently in my third year, studying a Bachelor of Social Science with a double major in Politics and Social Justice. And with this, I’m hoping to go into the policy-making area related to Indigenous communities and people. Has your degree in Social Science (double major in Politics and Social Justice) shaped the way you’ve approached the position of Students Representative for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Students? I didn’t realise before I went in, but the SRC is quite political; it’s quite politically structured. I went in there, and they were talking about creating and joining coalitions, and I was like, oh, okay, this isn’t what I was expecting. So I suppose studying politics has helped with that and has helped me handle the political climate a little bit. And also, with social justice, I’m learning about activism, human rights, inequalities within our society and how to try and fix these injustices. I think social justice helps me represent mob, my people, and make sure that we receive the justice we deserve. Also, social justice for me is about making sure mob are being heard, represented, and that our needs are being met. So I think politics and social justice has and will continue to help me with my role in making sure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students of Macquarie University are being heard and that their needs are being met. Why did you decide to run to be the Students Representative for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Students? Even before I knew what I wanted to do at uni, people would tell me things like, “I have a feeling you’re going to go into politics,” “you should be a politician,” and “you’re going to make a difference somehow.” So coming from this, I’ve developed this mindset that I’m going to go out into the world and help people, and I think being the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative is just one way of me being able to do that. I’ve always been very vocal, political and a strong representative for those who are continuously not being heard, especially Indigenous people. I’m always trying to make sure that our voices are heard, and needs are amplified and are met, and that we


are receiving the justice that we do need. Also, moving away from that, the past 2 Indigenous SRC representatives have been women, so I wanted to follow and continue that strong Indigenous lead. The most recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative, Neenah Robyn, was also really helpful. Hearing about all the amazing things she did during her role inspired me to do the same. I was also already heavily involved in the Indigenous community here at Macquarie Uni, which helped me decide that I wanted to run because I know everyone at Walanga and quite a few of the other Indigenous students. What does your role as an SRC representative involve? So as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative, I represent the First Nations students of Macquarie University by ensuring their voices are being amplified and needs are being met. In addition, I work closely with Walanga Muru by making sure they get everything they need and help them out with anything such as funding for an event or an activity. I also work with the Indigenous Student Association (ISA) similarly. What do you hope to achieve while in this position? So like I said before, I want to continue that strong Indigenous female lead and, most importantly, make sure that mob are being represented and heard. I want to make sure that their experiences at uni are what they want them to be and that they have opportunities to go out there and achieve their goals. Also, I want to make sure that blak excellence at Macquarie Uni is being shown and celebrated. What obstacles or barriers have you encountered so far, if any? I haven’t really faced any barriers because I’ve only really just started, so I’m off to a good start. What are some of the issues and concerns facing Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Students at Macquarie University? I think one example is the university not acknowledging its name. We are named after Lachlan Macquarie, who ordered the massacre of Indigenous people and then hung their bodies up on trees to warn other Aboriginal people. This hasn’t been acknowledged, and it looks like the name isn’t going to be changed anytime soon. There are people at Macquarie University and Darug Elders who are trying to get the name changed, and nothing has come of that

yet. It’s just another example of a white institution not acknowledging Australia’s history of violence, genocide, dispossession, and assimilation. Another example that directly impacts the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is the ignorance and racism at Macquarie University. Even if you’re just in a classroom and—with me personally, studying politics and social justice—there’s always a week in each of my units where we focus on Indigenous people—and there’s always that ignorance, always those silly comments. Like, when I say something like “I’m Indigenous,” and they’ll be like, “Are you really? Are you Indigenous? You look white. What percentage are you?” Just comments like that. Ignorance and racism. Also, we’re studying in a white institution that has been built to reflect settler colonialism, so that’s going to be hard for any Indigenous student to try and navigate. How do you think these concerns should be addressed by the university? I think with the whole name of the university, just acknowledging what Lachlan Macquarie did and how this history continues to affect Indigenous people today. When I hear ‘Macquarie,’ I cringe, and I can’t even imagine how Darug people feel about having a university named after Lachlan Macquarie on their Country. Darug people, like other mobs, are continuously trying to maintain and strengthen their connection to Country and culture, and they’re constantly reminded that there is a white institution named after Macquarie on their Country. As a country, we just need to acknowledge our history and undertake meaningful truth-telling. We can not continue to disregard and fabricate the truth of our history and how this history continues to impact Indigenous people today. Mob, such as our Elders and grassroots activists, continuously fight against settler-colonialism and all the wrongs forced upon our people. So I think when we finally see those in power step up and support Indigenous people is when all of Australia will finally wake up and acknowledge the wrongs of the past and try to effectively and appropriately fix them. And I think if an institution like Macquarie University could step up and recognise this, listen to Indigenous voices and help put measures in place at the uni so we could address these problems, that would be massive. Regarding the ignorance, racism and lack of knowledge around our people, history, and struggles, I think possibly more education around Indigenous peoples and history

would be helpful. There are also quite a few ABST courses that students can take. It would be good if the uni supported and promoted these units a bit more, so more students undertake them. I just took an ABST unit that focused on settler colonialism, and even as an Aboriginal woman, I learned so much. The university is also committed to providing a framework that embeds Indigenous values and knowledge into current and future curriculums. I think this is really important and if embedded appropriately will be a positive step towards all students learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cultures, and history. In saying all this, Walanga Muru does an amazing job at supporting Indigenous students here at Macquarie. Everyone there is so welcoming and helpful, and anytime I have a silly question or need something, I always go into Walanga or email them and receive the help I need. Is there anything else you’d like to add or that you’d like students to know? To our allies, just keep amplifying our voices, stand beside us, and be there for us. We need your support so that effective change can take place. If you’re in a classroom and someone says something racist, call it out and if there is an Indigenous student in your class, then check up with them after class. Also, do the same if you’re outside of uni. If you are one of those ignorant people who do say something racist, just stop and take the time to educate yourself. There are plenty of resources out there created by Indigenous academics and activists, so please take the time to read and educate yourself. There is no place or excuse for racism. To all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reading this, just remember to keep fighting. Keep being strong. You’re here for a reason, you’re making your family proud, and you’re making your ancestors proud. I hear stories of mob here at Macquarie achieving so much and doing so many amazing things, and I’m constantly in awe of all of you. Please reach out to me if you need anything or would like to see something happen around uni that relates to mob. Keep fighting that good fight and making moves. Reminder: Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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STORIES FROM SLAVSOC SlavSoc is Macquarie University’s Slavic Society. “The Serbian boy” in Australia and “the Aussie boy” in Serbia. Having a Serbian heritage is something to be incredibly proud of. A legendary and traditional history cascading through the centuries, filled with romance, war, tradition, war, and much more war. Through living and growing up in Australia, I and many others of Serbian background are emotionally scarred and affected by the persecution and suffering of our immediate family and ancestors. Not only are the stories of the past gut-wrenching and emotionally disturbing but when we turn on the news or open our social media, we are faced with images, videos, and articles showing the destruction of our churches, monasteries, and other traditional and cultural strongholds. Although we are considered “Aussie kids” and far from the eyes of everyone back home, the pain we experience is very close to our hearts and in turn will be passed on to future generations. Our relatives, who fled war-torn Yugoslavia during the ‘90s or during either World War I or II, did so for a better life. Many achieved prosperous life in their new-found home, building a life to be cherished from just a suitcase. Unfortunately a suitcase wasn’t their only ‘baggage.’

— ​​​​​​Bogdan Guberinc, Bachelor of Arts/Laws I grew up in a multilingual household, where both parents were of completely different nationalities: Russian and Lebanese. I was always immersed in both Slavic and Middle Eastern traditions however I was significantly interested in my Slavic culture. I attended Saturday school for the majority of my school years, where reciting Russian poetry was a regular occurrence, however there was not one that I particularly enjoyed. Now reminiscing, I don’t think I actualised the impact learning about my culture and language would have on me. It has given me the opportunity to communicate with relatives overseas as well as widening my cultural social circle in Sydney. I have been able to attend and participate in various cultural events e.g. film festivals, balls etc. Growing up in Australia without having Russian relatives here was always quite difficult as I never had the opportunity to frequently visit my babushka and dedushka, however Friday night skype calls quickly became a “weekly tradition.” From a young age, being exposed to the Russian culture allowed me to appreciate our diverse traditions and be very proud of my identity. When introducing myself to new crowds and atmospheres, I definitely believe that being Russian is a flex (not being biased of course).

— Tracyla Chehade, Bachelor of Psychology


Growing up as the daughter of first-generation immigrants from Poland, it was inevitable that Polish customs infiltrated my upbringing. I remember the primary school I attended was culturally homogenous as there was only a minority of students who were bilingual or identified as anything outside of Aussie. I remember distinctly suppressing any inkling of my Polishness. I was ashamed that my parents spoke broken english and I avoided any attention from my peers, especially during lunchtime, when I pulled out the smelly Polish lunches Mum packed. These lunches tended to be a hearty Polish sausage (Kiełbasa), best served cold, rye bread with a light smear of pâté, and as a snack, a whole tomato, which I would eat like an apple. My lunches were anachronistic to my friends who had peanut butter and jelly or vegemite sandwiches. However, these experiences which incited shame at an early age, are now the stories that bring me pride. It was moments like these that led me to appreciate cultural differences. I believe in celebrating the way our culturally diverse experiences carry on shaping us into the people we are today.

— Ola Kobialka, Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) Привет = hello in Russian! I wanted to take this opportunity to share my favourite memory from my time in Russia. As a child, I’d go to Russia to live with my grandparents every year for a couple of months at a time – in these months I would develop my Russian and spend time with my cousins in the Russian countryside at something called a dacha. My grandparents’ dacha was located right near the river Volga and included a large vegetable farm and wooden home. My cousins and I were able to run around, play outdoor games, and cool down by swimming in the river. I’ve been super nostalgic about it recently! Not spending time in Russia as regularly as I’ve gotten older has definitely made it harder for me to keep up my speaking skills beyond casual conversation. That reminds me of a funny story my parents told me about when I was learning Russian at the same time as English; at preschool in Australia, I would get confused between the languages and when the teachers tried to correct me, I’d be like “No it is right!” When in fact, I was 100% writing in another language.

— Katya Buryak, Bachelor of Actuarial Studies “WHAT, YOU GOT MARRIED OVER THE WEEKEND?” Ah yes, misapprehensions due to cultural differences, my favourite. Growing up as a first generation Australian I have definitely encountered my fair share of these misconceptions. At the age of four, before

I even started kindergarten, my parents enrolled me into a Saturday Russian school, where I would learn anything from Russian literature and punctuation to drama. This meant that while all my English school friends were playing sports on Saturdays, I was stuck in class trying to memorise historical dates. I still remember one of my friends consoling me, “Don’t worry Larissa, when you apply for a big job in the future, they will definitely ask you what day the Russian Poet Pushkin was born (June 6th 1799).” All jokes aside, Russian school helped me gather a more holistic historical and cultural perspective of the world and actually led me to meet some of my closest friends. My experiences with Russian school also brought about some interesting cultural misunderstandings, like the one I mentioned earlier. Graduation is signified by a debutante ball (a cultural formal), where we perform traditional dances like the waltz. The girls from the graduating class wear white ball gowns and the boys wear fancy suits. So after many social media posts of me dancing in a white dress with my partner, many people from my English school drew a very interesting assumption. Needless to say, it’s a funny story to tell and even funnier when I provide photo “evidence” to convince people I’m twenty and married.

— Larissa Svetlov, Bachelor of Law and Psychology (Honours) Having a Polish background and growing up learning the culture has been such a great experience. Since day one I would always speak Polish to my parents at home. I really enjoyed watching Polish animated films and reading books when growing up. As all my family live in Poland, it was my priority to improve my speaking skills so I could communicate to them with ease. I clearly remember my trip to Poland a few years back when my childhood mate invited me to a big house party with me not knowing anyone there. As soon as I mentioned that I live in Australia, I gained so much attention and immediately became a popular figure among others. When my mates saw this, they also started saying the same thing. More importantly, it allowed me to gain new friends over in my hometown Białystok with whom I still have contact with to this day. Now that I am older, I am thankful to my parents for introducing me to their homeland which let me meet a lot of other Poles living in Australia, share the same experiences we had as kids, and more importantly create longlasting friendships.

movies, and traditions, has been a significant aspect of my connectedness to my ethnicity. During my childhood, there was always music from all around the Balkan region (particularly from Bosnia and Herzegovina), playing in the house. My parents would play different genres, switching from ex-Yu rock to pop then to folk and sevdalinka music, all in the span of an hour. My parents still do this and I now too have followed in their paths, but now in the format of a forty-hour long Spotify playlist. When I hear this music, I automatically feel closer to my culture and am reminded of past events such as birthdays, Easters, Christmases, concerts, and holidays where music was a uniting factor. I am so grateful to my parents for teaching me the language as it has granted me opportunities to connect with family, both here and overseas, to meet new friends in Bosnia and Croatia, and to understand the rich and beautiful traditions of our culture.

— Nicole Juric, Bachelor of International Studies and Bachelor of Laws ​ y favourite aspect of growing up in a MacedonianM Australian household has always been the prevalence of traditional cultural foods. Meals are often not only a time for eating, but also a means of gathering family and friends together and connecting over our shared values, language, and culture. Orthodox Easter, Christmas, and name-day celebrations each year guarantee all of my favourite foods are made which leaves us with leftovers for days. A particular favourite of mine is my baba’s (grandmother) freshly baked maznik (a swirl pastry filled with cheese and spinach). On Orthodox Christmas Eve, she hides a single coin in the pastry, and the tradition is that whoever finds the coin in their piece will receive good luck for the year. I fondly remember when we were younger, she would include four coins for all four of her grandchildren so that no one was left out. In order to keep these traditions alive, I’ve asked my baba to teach me her recipes. Each time I visit her, we practice cooking something new together, with my favourites so far being kifli (mini rolls filled with cheese), kozinjak (sweet bread), and palačinki (crepes). I truly treasure this time that we spend together – even though I can never make them as well as she does!

— Isabella Kiparizov, Bachelor of Laws/International Studies

— Thomas Bienasz, Bachelor of Cyber Security I’m Nicole and I am the proud daughter of BosnianCroat immigrants. From a young age, my parents taught my brother and I the importance of preserving the culture and language of our ancestors. Music, amongst other influences such as cuisine, literature,


FISHING FOR FANTASIES My mum is one of those badass, powerful women. She does her make up sitting on the floor in front of a full length mirror. In a pinch she can do a whole face of makeup with only her fingers, no sponges, no brushes, and you would be none the wiser. All of that with baby me sitting in her lap, watching her create art in the mirror. However, despite having access to a vast range of colours and palettes, it wasn’t until I was 16 and in need of foundation for a school formal that my interest in experimenting with makeup was piqued. I did not want to go to a makeup artist, having seen friends who ended up with unblended contours or eye makeup that did not consider and adapt to the shape of monolids. I wanted to be in control of how I looked that night. With makeup, the face becomes the canvas. I am both simultaneously the artist and the art — I choose the style, the colours and their placement. I am in control as an artist but also at the mercy of my brushes. I joke with my friends that I draw my eyeliner, put on a bright coloured eye-shadow and forget how to


act humble. However, that’s not entirely true — the expressiveness of make-up and being able to draw attention to my eyes (which I’ve always liked, despite being asymmetrical) is a self-confidence boost. I stand straighter, look people in the eye, carry myself with a little more authority. My mum often tells me, “makeup is for you to accentuate the features you like and cover your blemishes. You should still look like you, but enhanced, like something brought into focus.” So putting on makeup, like fashion, became a way for me to express myself. The ‘lipstick effect’ is a psychological phenomenon where wearing makeup gives individuals a confidence boost by making them feel more physically attractive. Thereby increasing their self-esteem, attitude and personality. Research conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that women who put on makeup before a test achieved marks that were 1020% higher than their peers. It is hypothesised that the boost of self-esteem had a positive impact on memory, confidence and mental ability.

Dr Rajajeyakumar Manivel notes that “the majority of research on women and their self-esteem have historically been related to how they feel about their body shape and size. However, not much attention has been given to a particular action women can take to improve their self-confidence [by] applying cosmetics. Using different products and colours, women can use makeup to explore and portray their own individuality.” All of this before we even touch on the style of makeup that individuals choose. According to research conducted by Albertay University, women who wore heavier ‘night’ makeup were perceived as being frivolous with poor leadership skills compared to those with a ‘natural’ look. Yet, women who go to work barefaced are criticised for being unprofessional, so we really can’t win here. On the one hand, makeup provides us with agency through self-expression, yet it is also a means for societal expectations to be upheld and conformed to. It is important to question, why do we perceive certain features as flaws? Why do people wish for fuller lips and bigger eyes? Who is wishing for those? And who imposed those standards? Journalist Wanna Thompson coined the term Blackfishing, deriving the word from ‘catfishing.’ White individuals Blackfish when they try present themselves as racially ambiguous or Black, whether through excessive tanning, dark foundation, or wearing hairstyles and clothing styles that are pioneered by Black people. She states that “be it fashion, beauty or music. Black is cool, unless you’re actually Black.” White people scrub off tans, wipe off dark foundation and unravel braids, taking Black aesthetics at their convenience to monetise and capitalise on. This is especially problematic when Black people continue to routinely face racial discrimination and disapproval when they embrace Black fashion and beauty as society continues to view it as unclean, untidy and unprofessional. Yet, White people are quick to defend their appropriation, crying that it is their deep respect and appreciation of Black culture being expressed. Countless articles argue there is a “fine line” between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, but this argument detracts from the real issue. The rhetoric justifies and defends appropriation rather than acknowledging the status quo it maintains which continues to harm minority communities. Jim Crow era caricatures of African American people often exaggerated dark skin tones and lips. Place this context against White influencers choosing to darken their skin tone through excessive tanning

and injecting botox for fuller lips — it is easy to see how tone deaf their action is. The Coon caricature emerged just as American slavery was being abolished to perpetuate damaging stereotypes of African-Americans so that they would remain as a lower social class. “But sweetie,” I hear you say, “that’s all history, as a society we have moved past slavery and racist stereotyping.” Racist caricatures and colonialism are the origins and reason for the pervasiveness of racism and discrimination faced by Black and Indigenous people. Historical events like the Jim Crow laws or Darwin’s The Descent of Men which argued that White Europeans were ‘civilised’ cultures and everything Other was ‘savage,’ continue to underpin and influence negative stereotypes people have about Black people. Till this day in our 21st century, Black people continue to face systematic and societal discrimination due to the stronghold that these negative stereotype continue to have on our collective imagination and representation of Black people. While historical stereotypes are obviously and blatantly racist, contemporary microaggressions are subtle. It’s important to note that Blackfishing is not the same as blackface, but it derives from it. Blackfishing is more subtle and it is part of a wider social and systemic form of discrimination. The reason why European haute couture continues to dominate the fashion industry is not because they are better or more creative — it is because historically other cultures have been undervalued and viewed as savage. Or the reason why French and Italian cuisine tends to be more expensive is not because it requires more skill or care, it is because European culture is viewed as more ‘high class’ and society is more willing to pay a premium for it. Over the last 30 years, East Asia has also experienced an increasing interest from the West in their popular culture. With K-pop band BTS surpassing top American artists on the Billboard charts, Japanese anime and Chinese BL Fantasy dramas circulating, we are seeing the West consume Eastern culture as a commodity. The West’s fetishisation of the East can be understood through Orientalism, where Eastern culture is viewed as less than Western culture to justify imperialism and occupation. To this day, it is not uncommon for the West to view the East Asian countries of Japan, Korea and China as interchangeable. It particularly irked me when Lana Condor who is ethnically Vietnamese, was casted as Lara Jean who is meant to be half Korean and


half American in Netflix’s adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, as it reinforced the West’s idea that Asians are interchangeable despite vastly different and rich cultures. Hollywood has a long history of yellowface starting in the mid 18th century, with White actors applying makeup to “exaggerate ‘racial’ features that have been designated ‘Oriental’ such as ‘slanted’ eyes, overbite and mustard-yellow skin colour” (Robert G. Lee). The industry established and perpetuated the West’s imagination of the East as exotic and Other. Thus, the rich history and complex culture of a whole continent not only became a costume, it was also reduced into a caricature. Asianfishing takes many of the makeup techniques utilised in yellowface, most predominantly taping the eyes for a ‘slanted’ look. The fox eye trend saw influencers pulling their eyes back with their hands or taping, alongside Oriental fashion to fetishisie and sexualise Asian culture. TBH, the people who jumped on the fox eye trend are probably the same people who pulled their eyes back and yelled “ching chong” at an Asian kid in the playground. Asian women have been eroticised, fetishized and raped following wars and colonisation. How far back? In 1875, Chinese women were restricted from immigrating to America as they were viewed as prostitutes. The White Australia Policy, which was only abolished in 1973, targeted Asian immigrants, characterising them as immoral and particularly susceptible to smoking opium (ironic since the British government strongly resisted efforts to ban the opium trade since the it financed the government in British India — once again, colonisers have created problems that POC clean up and pay the cost of). In contemporary times, Asian women continue to be hypersexualised and fetishised — at once submissive and sexually alluring, they are objectified and viewed as something to be dominated. Miss Saigon is the perfect example to summarise Western Orientalism — Asian men are portrayed as villainous while Asian women exist to drive the White man’s heroic arc through their own self-sacrifice. All of this within the context of America’s involvement in the Vietnam war and the fact that many Asian women were forced into prostitution while American soldiers partook in the sex industry to assert their dominance. Or, let’s talk about the infantilization and fetishisation of Asian men which is especially predominant among K-Pop fans. Where Asian women are hypersexualised, Asian men have historically been desexualised and emasculated by the West. This portrayal of Asian men as effeminate can be understood as a story about White male insecurity regarding masculinity.


What further complicates things is that in many contemporary films, Asian men’s masculinity often rely on their relationship or sexual attractiveness to White women. Thus, it’s no surprise that the fetishisation of Asian men by White people often leaves a sour taste — it continues to perpetuate the narrative that Asians are only attractive when they are desired by White people. Notions and ideals of beauty are intertwined with racism, especially when ethnic features form the basis of aesthetics. The longstanding effects of colonisation mean that Eurocentric standards of beauty continue to dominate and the cosmetic industry has enabled individuals to dramatically alter their looks without addressing the systematic and institutionalised racism that people of colour continue to face. White influencers who use makeup to darken their skin tone or tape back their eyes transform ethnic features into a costume that can be worn and removed at their convenience. Social media has enabled White influencers to profit off the creativity, culture and hardwork of ethnic creators. Rich cultures are reduced to trends through appropriation in Blackfishing and Asianfishing. It reinforces the idea that ethnic features are only desirable when the West deems it beautiful enough to adopt and appropriate. Rather than empowering people of colour, it cunningly upholds existing power relations and Western beauty standards. Makeup is a double-edged sword; able to empower and to objectify. It can be a medium for selfexpression, or a method of adhering to arbitrary beauty standards. If makeup is the medium, then you are the subject and the art. Our faces tell stories of our heritage, and makeup provides us with agency over the self we choose to present for the day. Unlike painters who start with a blank canvas, or ceramic artists who begin with a lump of clay — makeup artists accentuate existing features. Sitting on the floor of my bedroom in front of a full length mirror, choosing between palettes with two dogs sitting in my lap. I draw my eyeliner, put on a bright coloured eye-shadow and I think of simultaneously being the art and the artist, wielding my brushes, creating art in the mirror. by Tiffany Fong



<i like asian girls uwu> she stared into the mirror face raw and bare; if you stopped and stared she was ordinary, fair butthe way her eyes slanted upwards naturally and the way her nose stood tall organically the way her lips sat plump easily kept crowds in awe at the local menagerie. she hated the dimensions defined by her facethe enclosure was small and she just wanted more than crowds spilling out from above dropping treats as ‘love’. she peered into the mirror determined to fit in with the others but now the others try the same old tricks like some sick form of love, trying to copy from above.

by Olivia Chan



How the dragon glides, Its flames a parade of neon blaze. I can never get over how swiftly she moves, waves bouncing through crowd. How I wish I can be her.

Purple crisp silks flowing down, oh modest woman. I’ve never seen my mum’s face glow more than when she wore ao dai. The sweet nostalgia of her homeland wanes the fact that this is not even her dress.

This is the first time since childhood I have worn ao dai. I’ve spent most of my life being too embarrassed to wear one, even when it was merely asked once a year. What a fool I was. This soft silky layer somehow forms a second skin. The threads of my ancestors. Of my matriarch. Together we have ao dai.


Once a year we sit down closely knit, no matter how far we have grown apart. It is because we are bound by the vibrant games we have shared since childhood. Our children, as young as five, placing innocent coined bets on the green crab. We all anticipate the reveal of the dealer’s dice roll, uproariously chanting our bet. Manifesting an easy win.

Here we, the matriarchy (mẫu hệ) sit before you. by Jennifer Le



Chè ba màu (3 colour dessert) A plethora of colour, bursting full of textures. My tongue awakening from the soft red bean paste dancing with bounce of pandan jelly. I am enamoured by the hit of coconut cream wafting into my senses. What a rich, vibrant culture.

A humble meal shared It’s true what they say; the most dingy humble places offer the most enriching palates. Aside from the fruitful dishes we feasted on, we were taken into the atmosphere of Vietnam. Cheap colourful plastic chairs and tables hardly spaced out, open windows and tiled floors. It made the dining experience all the more sincere.


Feasting our eyes on the simple gỏi cuốn (rice paper rolls) As young as primary school, we learn how to roll gỏi cuốn. Oh, how exciting it was learning how to soften rice paper sheets in hot water. The trust instilled in us doing this delicate job. Oh, how I reminisce the fresh lettuce crunch and the bouncy vermicelli, Draped over by the lively sauce, its nutty savour filling the room.

Restaurants of the diaspora I’m proud of you for trying new cuisines with me. It can be daunting. All you’ve known is foods of your homeland. As we venture into unknown cities together, let us explore. Let us celebrate the cultures of our Asian brothers and sisters. by Jennfier Le


Garray-bu Murriyan (Land and Sea) This artwork depicts five pillars of different sizes next to the boundless depths of the ocean. These pillars represent each member of the family and the different experiences and knowledge that each person holds within them, which is represented through the layers of circles within each pillar. Each dot within these circles represents an experience or piece of knowledge that each person holds dear to them or has changed how they think, act, or relate. Between each layer is a circle of lines that represents the emotional, spiritual, or physical barriers that everyone possesses within them. Navigating these barriers require connections built on trust and mutual respect such as between a parent or child, or between partners. Within the ocean are dark blue shapes which represent experiences and pieces of knowledge that are connected to Country. This knowledge is passed down from the larger pillars (the parents) to the smaller pillars (the children) to build foundations of trust, respect, and growth. Waves connect the family pillars to the ocean of knowledge. These waves become darker in colour the closer they get to the depths of the ocean which represents the importance and complexity of this deep knowledge. The waves connect each member of the family to each other in a way that means they can build foundations of trust and connection, but still be individual pillars. by Dylan Barnes

Ngumbadalngilanha-bu Ginhar (United and Strong) This artwork represents how powerful a person’s connection to their family, community, and identity can be. By having a strong sense of self and belonging within your communities, you achieve a heightened sense of passion and integrity for both yourself and the people you are close to. Being truly connected to your team and acknowledging each other’s differences and similarities is vital to achieving success. I wanted the black circles to represent our players and their close connections. The sitting people around these circles represent their communities and ancestors that have paved the way for them and helped them become the people they are today. Each of these circles are connected by journey paths, which represents the interconnectedness of the team and the strength that comes with unity and teamwork. The blue and green circles represent Country and the ancestors that came before us. Without Country and our ancestors, the knowledge, cultures, and communities that we have today would not exist. Next to these blue and green circles are black ‘baskets’ that are filled with dots of knowledge. Each of these dots symbolises a small piece of information that each person holds. When these dots of knowledge are exchanged with others, we can develop long-lasting connections and create stronger communities. by Dylan Barnes

Gaagu-Ma-Rra-Awa-Y-Gunha Niiringal (Sharing Tomorrow) This artwork expresses the themes of hope and continuation for Indigenous Peoples. Especially within the fields of academia and representation, Indigenous Peoples have been largely excluded from the colonial power systems that are so deeply entrenched in our society, such as the prioritisation of white-centric academia and Western education systems. The large white circles in the centre represent Western institutions, while the red, yellow, and brown ochre colours represent Country and the diverse landscape. Each campfire symbol contains a small ‘web’ of knowledge within each campfire that is protected by a wall of green dots. This web represents sacred Indigenous traditions and knowledge that we have passed down for generations, which is protected by the barrier of green dots. White institutions are unable to obtain the sacred knowledge within these webs until they can truly understand and connect with our communities, perspectives, and humanity. This artwork expresses the efforts of the Macquarie University Arts Faculty to include and prioritise Indigenous voices and cultures, especially in socio-economic, political, environmental, and cultural discourses. by Dylan Barnes

Bundyi Yilimadha Gulbanha-galang (Share Our Knowings) I wanted this artwork to depict different communities that are connected to each other by sharing their knowledge, perspectives, and experiences. Within each community there are layered circles that represent the institutions that make up our society, and the different peoples within that society. Although confined within the institutions of our society, each community of people is able to communicate with each other and share their own knowledge and perspectives. Each white dot represents a bit of knowledge or a story that each individual possesses that can be shared with others. These dots radiate from each community and connect to each other to represent how knowledge and shared storying can unify us as living beings. The line waves on each edge of the painting represents a continuous flow of communication; one that possesses some barriers but also exists on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. I utilised the yellow, red, and brown ochre colours to symbolise Country. Especially for Indigenous Peoples, Country gifts us with resources and knowledge, and we reciprocate this by caring for Country and all of the living and non-living beings connected to it. Through this reciprocation, we are sharing our knowledge and stories with Country and viceversa. Acknowledging Country as a living being that communicates knowledge and stories can ultimately enhance our interconnectedness as humans and spiritual beings. by Dylan Barnes

Bandalang Giilang-Galang (Joining Stories) In this artwork I wanted to depict the coming together of two individuals and the connection that is formed between each person’s family, friends, and communities. Everyone is connected to certain people that have changed their life and helped them grow to be the person they are today. All of these people play a part in your life story and journey. This artwork shows two people coming together and weaving their stories together. by Dylan Barnes



IDENTITY CRISIS AND LOSS OF MORALITY IN HIROSHI TESHIGAHARA’S THE FACE OF ANOTHER Japanese New Wave films aren’t your average mainstream films. Between the late 1950s to the 1970s, the Japanese New Wave rejected conventions of Japanese cinema, exploring taboo subjects and experimenting with cinematic traditions and styles. Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face of Another is part of the Japanese New Wave, and it’s easy to dismiss it as being uneventful, but that would do injustice to its philosophy, aimed at analysing identity crisis and social perceptions of appearance. The film opens with shots of limbs floating in water, all of them humanlike yet clearly artificial. Off-screen, psychiatrist Hira (Mikijirō Hira) asks the viewer what they make of these objects, picking up an arm and showing it to the audience. Then he pulls a finger off, saying it’s not real, but rather, it is “inferiority complex in the shape of a finger.” The opening credits play, zooming back to show us countless images of multiple citizens, emphasising their facial expressions and features. All of them are distinguishable and unique, yet there is something eerily similar about them. Shots of crowds on the streets at night follow, emphasising their faces to create an underlying feeling that their identities are homogenous and identical, forming a status quo lacking individuality. After this point, The Face of Another introduces us to Mr. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai). The most noticeable feature about his face is that he wears bandages. He is a businessman and engineer whose face has been disfigured by an explosion in an industrial accident. Not only is he ostracised by society, but his disfigurement drives marital tensions at home. His wife (Machiko Kyō) seems to be there to support him, but when Okuyama attempts to be intimate, she refuses to look at him. He knows it and asks her, but she claims it’s his imagination. Their marriage is in severe decline. During a discussion about appearances, Okuyama believes the face is the door to the mind. Without revealing the face, you close off the mind and any chance of communication, and the mind is left to rot in its loneliness. Such is the case with Mr. Okuyama. Things aren’t better for Okuyama out in public. When he reaches work, his secretary keeps identifying him because of his bandages, much to his chagrin. When he’s out on the streets, people glare at him, unsettled by his appearance, and react uncomfortably. When Okuyama decides to rent an apartment, the superintendent doesn’t immediately hide his shock, yet his intellectually disabled daughter reacts nonchalantly to Okuyama, always preoccupied with a yoyo. Sick of his current life, Okuyama consults his psychiatrist

Hira to develop an artificial mask that will make him indistinguishable from everyone else. After purchasing a citizen’s likeness to serve as a model for the mask, it is eventually developed, and when Okuyama tries it on… the mask fits. Okuyama can start life as a new man, but without telling anyone about his decision, he tests the mask’s effectiveness by seeing people acquainted with him. When the secretary sees him in his new mask, she doesn’t recognise him and becomes hostile when he pesters her for information about himself. He revisits the superintendent, who now greets him as another friendly stranger, in complete contrast with how unsettled he was initially. But strangely, his daughter can recognise Okuyama through his voice and personality. Finally, Okuyama no longer stands out among the crowd. He is treated equally, like any other member of society, and regularly consults Hira. He reveals his true intention in obtaining the mask: to seduce his wife without revealing his identity. Yet this is where Hira warns Okuyama about the effects of the mask: it may become used to Okuyama, which will alter his personality and behaviour, leading to a potential loss of morality. While the main plot plays out, a separate tale abruptly begins, opening with a shot of a young woman (Miki Irie) that shows only the left side of her face. She’s gorgeous, walking to work until she hears men leering at her from behind. They call, whistle, and ogle her, spouting annoying compliments. She doesn’t respond, and one of them, aggravated, proceeds to turn her around. The right side of her face is scarred. Yoshi Sugihara’s editing emphasises the details of her disfigurement, implementing the facial imagery into the viewer’s mind. The men are stunned into silence, with reactions of shock and disgust spreading on their faces. Before the woman keeps walking, she turns to the viewer to briefly, and solemnly, break the fourth wall, prompting us to emphasise with her. Her storyline reveals that she works at a psychiatric ward composed of severely traumatised inmates and post-World War II veterans. Although friendly and communicative, she cannot shake off her suppressed unsettlement. She lives with her brother at home, who supports her, but maybe shows a bit too much affection. In nearly every scene she appears, she hears sirens or gunshots at target practice, and she asks her brother if there will be another war. All of these allude to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki during World War II, which (apparently) she has survived, but not only has it left behind scars, it has led to social judgment and isolation for something she had no control over. Pure innocence tainted by the horrors of war and society.


FILM REVIEW There is no point where her storyline and Okuyama’s intersect, so why leave hers in the final cut? In the original novel written by Kōbō Abe, her subplot takes place in a film that Okuyama sees. With this detail deliberately obscured, Teshigahara sharpens his focus on what these stories share in common. He asks philosophical questions about identity and whether appearance can determine personality after all; although Okuyama’s personality changes after the mask, the woman’s appearance never reflects her personality. People are disgusted at her scar, and children even call her a monster, but that’s not true. She is a lovely woman, born with natural beauty, and her innocence was destroyed by the world surrounding her. The social judgments surrounding her have prevented most people from seeing her gentle, empathetic, and caring personality. Undoubtedly, it is natural for strangers to pass by each other on the street, make brief glimpses at their faces and keep their judgments and thoughts to themselves. It would be weird to suddenly greet a random stranger on the street and have a conversation with them just because of their facial looks. Nevertheless, expressing your shock or disgust towards someone because of their appearances shows how damaging assumptions can be and how impactful your reactions can be to others. Had this subplot been removed, Okuyama’s unsympathetic characterisation would not have worked in the film’s favour, and viewers would struggle to notice the film’s socially keen eye. Interestingly, the woman’s storyline can be compared to Mrs. Okuyama’s characterisation. Natural yet brutally harsh beauty contrasted with artificial beauty. Mrs. Okuyama once recounts to her husband a tradition she heard that women wore makeup to conceal their faces, serving as another type of mask. No makeup can be found on the scarred woman’s face, exposing her disfigurements, and it further suggests how artificial beauty is deemed more desirable in society. In the old times, if you wore makeup, you glorified your appearance enough to either make you stand out to receive good reactions or fit in. Without it, you’re likely to be noticed but not considered as pretty, and what Okuyama’s dialogue reveals is how societal beliefs of appearance can be unknowingly ingrained in people’s minds and passed on for generations.

The Face of Another philosophically demonstrates that perhaps our faces serve as masks and that we may be disguising our true personalities from the outside world. Our identities have been made concrete and permanent to everyone else, but when we wear masks to become someone else, we erase ourselves, transforming into entirely different beings. We create a new sense of freedom, but one that we can easily abuse so that our unmasked selves don’t have to face actual consequences. By focusing on our images, we lose our sense of self and may transform into a monstrous shell of what we once were. The Face of Another’s ending solidifies this in a truly chilling manner, suggesting that the gradual, and helpless, loss of a moral compass in society is inevitable. Tatsuya Nakadai has a challenging role to play. He has to exude cynicism and bitterness early in his role, only to transition into a charismatic and eccentric person who lets his mask take over his identity, and he pulls it off well. Machiko Kyō is equally great as she captures the forced gentleness of Mrs. Okuyama, even demonstrating how her character fits into, yet struggles with, the traditional


role of a loving housewife. The philosophical dialogue may be boring to get through if the acting lacked authenticity, but thankfully Mikijiro Hira’s performance as Okuyama’s psychiatrist provides grounded realism. And even if you hear little dialogue from the scarred woman, Miki Irie always creates empathy and hidden pain in her performance. The Face of Another may not feel character-driven, but it certainly is if you consider their motivations, immaculately brought to life by stellar and challenging performances. If anything, The Face of Another is another philosophical drama, yet it is filmed and framed like an existential horror; its discomforting tone is there to fuel your thinking process and deeply consider its social commentary. Every frame of The Face of Another is filled with existential dread, expertly blocked, and masterfully shot by cinematographer Hiroshi Segawa. He emphasises doublings, constantly contrasting scenes and reactions to serve the thematic depths and provide a beautiful yet unbearable atmosphere. It’s further aided by Shigenosuke Okuyama’s riveting sound design, filled with uneasy silences and ambience, with an occasional utilisation of Toru Takemitsu’s sinister and masterful score. But what stands out are the ambitious production values and set designs, confidently expressing symbols of identity and morality to produce rich images that become clearer on repeat viewings. Behind The Face of Another’s surface lies a film stuffed with philosophical depths, waiting to be found and pieced together every time, which is only a further testament to the genius of Hiroshi Teshigahara. Unfortunately, not everything about The Face of Another is perfect. Sugihara’s editing sometimes runs the risk of unnecessarily stretching its pace, which may challenge the viewer’s patience too much. Nevertheless, it remains stylistically purposeful to extend upon the facial symbolism. Sometimes, the characters’ behaviours are tedious to watch, and without most of them being likeable, they can be difficult to get behind. Depending on your current mindset, The Face of Another may feel dull and unrewarding. Despite these minor issues, Teshigahara offers numerous visual metaphors and thoughtful themes, asking questions about identity and social standings, but trusting the audience to brainstorm the answers for themselves. Through Teshigahara’s exploration of psychological existentialism and Abe’s strengthful adaptation of his source material, The Face of Another is genius filmmaking that suggests it is all too true that some masks come off and others don’t. And sometimes, that alone is enough to make the film crawl under your skin. by Nicholas Chang

THE BENCH BY MEGHAN MARKLE AND CHRISTIAN ROBINSON The Bench is a lyrical picture book that celebrates the bond between fathers and sons. It contains short heartfelt vignettes on key moments in childhood and the fatherly guidance given in those moments. Its purpose is simple, to diversely depict the paternal love that resonates across all communities, as Meghan notes that “Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented… Any child or any family hopefully can open this book and see themselves in it, whether that means glasses or freckled or a different body shape or a different ethnicity or religion.” Given the positive and altruistic conceptualisation of this children’s book, how was it received by the British public and the world? With either extreme negativity or extreme positivity. Markle has been a polarising figure since her marriage to the former Prince Harry, exile/escape from

the British monarchy and tabloids, and tell-all Oprah interview that dared to call-out the royals. The book has received an avalanche of criticism and barbs from the British press, a significantly smaller amount of hatred and even some love from the Australia media, and is officially a #1 New York Times bestseller. In the online reviewing sphere there has similarly been a sharp split in opinionated reviews with 52% of Google users having liked the book. Almost comically, the majority of Goodreads reviewers have either opted for a 1 star review or a 5 review, with Markle there is no moderation. Ultimately, with 18% of Goodreads reviewers giving the book 1 star and 40% of Goodreads reviewers giving the book 5 stars, Meghan Markle fans have won out. Political drama aside, and judging this book on its own merit, I found it to be a sincere and tranquil reading experience. The splashes of watercolour soften the illustrations which portray flashes of childhood life through an inclusive lens. A baby is shown snoozing on his black father under a leafy tree, a white father bandages his son’s knee after a scrape, one father dances with his tutu-ed son wearing a matching tutu, a father in a wheelchair helps tie his son’s shoes, a Sikh father wearing a turban celebrates his son’s win and soccer trophy, a military father returns home, and so on. A familiar ginger-haired royal father also makes appearances throughout. Each father-son interaction occurs on, beside, or near a different bench. The obvious


BOOK REVIEW metaphor here being that the benches come in an eclectic range of colours, shapes, and sizes, and the fathers and sons are equally diverse. The Bench also highlights nature and the beauty of everyday experiences. One of my favourite scenes was of a father and son chatting while overlooking a stormy sea at the beach. The book exudes a sense of calmness, acceptance, and patience. It’s impossible to read this book without feeling Meghan’s presence given that it is an ode by her, to Harry and Archie. The title refers to the bench that Meghan gave to Harry as a gift for his first Father’s Day, “I just wanted something sentimental and a place for him to have as a bit of a home base with our son,” Meghan says. Included on this bench was a plaque with a poem written by Meghan about the moments Harry and Archie would share on the bench. That poem later became this book. Pieces of Meghan’s personality and life are also infused into the narrative. Both Meghan’s favourite flower, Diana’s favourite flower, and Meghan’s rescue chickens appear in the book. The scene that shows a military father coming home to his family is inspired by a real sergeant from Texas she met while on a United Service Organisations (USO) tour. “He had told me the story about how he wasn’t able to teach his son how to play catch because he was away… And so he and his son would mail this baseball back and forth to each other from Texas to Afghanistan and write the date on it… That page is true to form for him and his family.” As a picture book, The Bench heavily relies on its illustrator, Christian Robinson, a Caldecott Honor recipient who does a phenomenal job of creating the mood and tone that Meghan envisioned for this book. Robinson’s illustrations are often inspired by “children’s book illustration and graphic art from the ‘50s and ‘60s,” as well as “nature, simplicity, cities, children’s art, animation, fine art,” and “music,” among other things. While he usually works in acrylic and with cut-out pieces of paper, for this book he worked in a different medium, watercolour. Although it was a creative challenge, Robinson found that “I really think it was just the right note” as “what makes creativity fun is when things are improvised… when you kind of have to explore and play and experiment.” The reasoning behind Meghan’s instruction to use watercolour “was specifically because I just felt that when you talk about masculinity and you talk about fatherhood, it can often not come across with the


same softness that I was really after for this book. And I just wanted this to feel almost ethereal and light and Christian was able to use that medium and create the most beautiful images.”

The Bench has been called “so terrible it’s funny (The Australian),” and a “semi-literate vanity project (The Telegraph),” that will put “an entire generation off reading (The Telegraph again).” The level of vitriol The Bench has received feels both predictable and obscene. Meghan can’t even eat an avocado without it eliciting outrage and harassment. The Bench is a touching story of paternal love and inclusivity and is a great book for all parents to read to their children. by Jodie Ramodien


A CLASSIC HORROR STORY IS NO MODERN HORROR CLASSIC For a Netflix Original film trying so hard to be a modern horror classic, you’d think the directors would have come up with a better title. Pause for a moment so you can think about the titles of every great horror film you can think of: The Evil Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Shining, Cabin in the Woods, Midsommar, etc. These titles are ingenious and memorable because they immediately evoke the tone of their film and set you up for a terrifying experience. But when you think about A Classic Horror Story, what does that remind you of? What is this ‘classic horror story’ the title is trying to remind you of, especially if there’s many of them? What does the title set up, and why did the filmmakers think it would be a good idea?

A Classic Horror Story consistently wears its horror film influences on its sleeve and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all evident in the premise: five friends are travelling in southern Italy, until an incident at night causes their RV to crash into a tree. Stranded in the middle of the woods, everyone tries to find help. Unfortunately, horror film buff Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) begins to spot all the horror clichés in this situation, and Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) realises something is truly wrong. At this point, A Classic Horror Story is brave and proud to show off its influences and where they came from. A group of friends in an RV that gets stranded, much like what happens to the characters of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Check. Lost in the woods like in The Blair Witch Project? Check. A mysterious cabin looking like those from Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods and even Osgood Perkins’s Gretel & Hansel? Check. That siren from Silent Hill? Check. A manipulative cult with horrific goals, akin to Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man? Check. And in that cult are members shut off from

the rest of the world, like in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village? Check. Festivities taking place, with visual compositions directly inspired by Ari Aster’s Midsommar? Check, check, check! A Classic Horror Story acknowledges its complete lack of originality, and its self-awareness is refreshing. However, it can only go so far until it relies too much on its influences, and ends up failing to form its own core identity in the process. Fortunately, directors Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli offer enough entertaining material in the first half to make A Classic Horror Story engaging. Although the characters are meant to resemble familiar archetypes and common victims in horror films, the co-directors also happen to be behind the script and attempt to build character. This works for a few good moments, for the material lets audiences latch onto some distinct character personalities. But an eventual problem that arises with the weak characterisation is that most of the characters are easy to forget about when the end credits roll. Not a good sign if a film struggles to make you remember its characters. The performances among the core cast are competent. They get their jobs done, and Matilda Lutz is a solid final girl, but nothing about the acting will blow you away. Emanuele Pasquet’s cinematography takes a few too many visual cues from the more modern horror films, but it’s nevertheless visually stunning and colourful. The blooming colour of red accompanies a few terrifying scenes and gruesome kills, intended to build an unsettling atmosphere rather than settle for cheap scares. With some of the gorier moments appropriately left to the audience’s imagination, A Classic Horror Story seems to have a confident destination in mind, taking advantage of Massimiliano Mechelli’s evocative musical score and gnarly, albeit derivative, visuals. The first hour of A Classic Horror Story is well-


FILM REVIEW directed enough to show flashes of genuine inspiration and authentic love towards the horror genre… Until that final act. I can’t recall a third act that left me feeling cheated and angry. A dramatic plot twist reveals A Classic Horror Story’s true – and rotten – colours. Without giving away too much, it goes overboard with the meta elements and attempts to provide ironic, postmodern social commentary about originality, the state of horror filmmaking and how audiences react to the genre, but without doing anything profound about it. The satirical approach towards the horror genre never feels as loving as it should be, the villain’s motivations are undercooked, and when you try to see how the twist fits into the cult narrative, all the storytelling elements never come together as they should. This revelation leads to such a drastic shift in narrative and tone that A Classic Horror Story ends up losing its well-constructed atmosphere to make way for an anticlimactic resolution. And how audacious of that mid-credits scene to mock viewers for not liking the film. Someone needs to remind the directors and writers that all audiences have varying, subjective tastes in cinema. It is possible for an audience to simultaneously dislike a film and understand the point of it. An audience disliking a film is not exclusively because they didn’t get the


point or found it unoriginal. More than anything, it’ll be something else. If you deliberately insult the viewer and make them feel like they wasted their time, then your heart hasn’t been in the right place when you made your film. Overall, A Classic Horror Story’s self-awareness and influences fail to disguise its blatant lack of identity, and all it resembles is a mediocre Netflix production pretending to be a modern horror classic or satire that’s greater than it is. It’s a pretentious wad of meta-horror filmmaking that mistakenly believes pointing out its clichés and pandering to the audience of CinemaSins makes it smarter. All it does is inflate its own ego, and in the process, its tribute to the horror genre never feels sincere. Creativity, originality, and realism are not dead, and they won’t be if horror filmmakers know how to use them effectively. But A Classic Horror Story thinks the opposite way because I guess ignorance is bliss in the eyes of the writers themselves, huh?

A Classic Horror Story is currently streaming on Netflix. by Nicholas Chang

horoscopes by Rayna Bland




You are ultimately loved and maybe sometimes feared by those around you. You are quick-witted yet sometimes absentminded. Goofy but intellectual and deeply curious. Gemini is represented by the twins which is why you are so complex and can hold so many sides.

Baby, it is okay to cry. Let the tears fall. You are a Cancer in Cancer season! It is the astrological wet season. Wet from the tears that fell in your bathroom breakdown during lockdown blues.

You have the power to manifest all of your dreams and oh gee you have so many! The Universe works in your favour and if you desire it, think it, visualise it, and believe that you deserve it. Because you do!




You are a great friend, family member, and intellectual. Your critical wit is what helps make you, you. Remember though, perfection does not exist – perfection does not need to exist. Beauty is found in the wildness, chaos, and natural human mistakes. Let your hair down and take a deep breath.

Please stop digging that damn thoughthole. Put the mental shovel down and stop trying to find answers to problems that are not real. Engage in a relaxing activity like dancing, drawing, or singing to keep your mind at ease. It is important to showcase the creative divinity that resides within you.

Yeah we get it. You are weird. You are different. You are just so emo!




Pull back that bowstring and let the arrow fly. You are a brave and brilliant star that should be seen. You have a strong heart that keeps others warm. Keep at it you sexy stallion.

Your natural ability to think about and help out others is so lovely. You are a leader and a teacher. A true example of the kind of person that others can really learn from.

You are a cool, fly, wise guy and you know it. I recommend picking up the phone and making contact with an old friend – I think they have something to tell you.




Keep working on you. Your hobbies, interests, work, fitness, and school. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but you are a strong mighty fish who can swim against any current.

The world is not out to get you. I promise. You are safe and you are loved. It is a waste of energy to be so tense anyways. Relax a little and you will find the greatest reward.

Can you please stop being so passive aggressive? For a bull you can really avoid tackling situations directly. So stop huffing, puffing, and stomping the ground and start running toward the people holding the red flag. Tell them what is up and how you feel. They will understand.

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