Earlier this week, Shireen Morris launched her book Radical Heart, which event host Scott Stephens called "an astonishing piece of political and legal theoretical writing", in conversation with Richie Ahmat at Avid Reader in Brisbane's West End.
Shireen spoke with passion and eloquence about the key issue that her book tackles – the fight for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. This is intercut with the story of her personal journey as she wrestled with the issues, including her "baptism by fire" in joining the Cape York Institute.
Shireen also spoke about how she knew nothing of the day to day challenges when she started, and how she hoped to share that initial ignorance, and her subsequent learning process, in the hope that it might make the complex issues easier to absorb and understand. She discussed the enabling power of the constitution, and that a voice in parliament would be a milestone in some resumption of autonomy for First Nations people.
It was an eye-opening discussion for those of us who, like Shireen initially, did not really grasp the ramifications of constitutional recognition, or the issues and inequalities that perpetuate without it.
"Whatever you read in the papers...if by some miracle we can get this Indigenous voice in our constitution, there will be so much joy...because it's been a battle." Richie Ahmat said. The conversation also turned to the power of empathy to bridge gulfs in understanding, the calculated costs of speaking out, and what a difficult position that is to advocate from. One key line really stood out to me in the discussion: This is a political story, but it is a human story.
It was a very thought-provoking event, and I look forward to adding Radical Heart to my towering 'to be read' pile.
You can purchase Radical Heart at all good bookstores (but I'd encourage you to support your local independent bookstores like Avid Reader!).