Apr 17

Dear Anita…

Dear Anita,

This past week I’ve seen some pretty awful things written about you as people exercised their freedom of speech to write hateful, hate-filled remarks in a forum intended for informative book reviews and product feedback.

I want to write something about you too. But I’m not going to do it anonymously on a public forum. I’m going to write it here, on my blog, with my name attached. Here we go.

Thank you.

Thank you for being a woman of integrity, depth and courage in a society that has little value for such things when they lead someone to question the status quo. Thank you for remaining true to what you hold dear in a society that tells us it values honesty and strength of character until that same honesty and character questions society’s priorities and makes a stand against injustice and inequality.

Thank you for following up your words with actions. I’m amazed that so many are questioning your claim to your indigenous heritage. Five minutes on your blog or Google would demonstrate that your desire to be associated with Indigenous Australian culture is not mere lip service for some personal gain. You are constantly promoting Indigenous artists, writers and cultural events. You visit community groups and speak at public events that promote indigenous culture. You are an enthusiastic, passionate and involved ambassador for Australian Indigenous people.

Thank you for your generosity of spirit. Your ‘grateful’ blog posts are a wonderful reminder that we have so much to be thankful for, both big and small. I love that you use so many of your posts to be thankful for the influence and example of others. Your posts remind me that we are part of a community and our contribution has value and purpose. It is easy to lose sight of the simple pleasures in the midst of our busy lives, but you constantly return to the basics and remember that in the midst of it all we have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you for being an inspiration. Your success despite what society would perceive as your limitations (you are indigenous AND female – a double ‘handicap’) is impressive, but it is your warmth, intelligence, humour, passion and willingness to stand up and speak out for what you believe in that is inspirational.

I’m sure if we met in person, we would find points on which we disagree. I’m not writing this letter because I agree with everything you do and say. I’m writing it because I respect your willingness to stand up for what you believe in, to form opinions and then voice them.

We know each other. I interviewed you over the phone some time ago regarding one of your novels and you have guest posted here on my blog. We have chatted online through Facebook and Twitter. I guess I would call us acquaintances, although I would be proud to call you friend.

I hope that we get to meet in person one day and, because I am always willing to bring people into their world who will inspire them to think deeply and live a life of passion and purpose, I hope that my children get to meet you.

Thank you Anita.

Yours with gratitude and respect,


This post is in response to the racist and personal attacks on Anita Heiss through various sites in response to her recently published memoir Am I Black Enough For You? and her interview with ABC radio journalist Carol Duncan.

I respect the right of anyone to disagree with Anita’s priorities and/or to simply not enjoy her books. The world is a diverse and complex place and, as the saying goes, you can’t please all the people, all the time. What I have found offensive in the recent comments is that they have been so personal. They have not been feedback about Anita’s book or her writing in general and they seem to have been written without any attempt to research the work that Anita does with Indigenous cultural groups or her other professional qualifications and activities.

If Anita and I were to meet in person, I am absolutely positive we would find ourselves disagreeing on various issues. That’s okay with me. I love a good debate. I don’t respect Anita because I agree with everything she says and does. I respect her because she stands up for what she believes in.

If you want to know more about Anita, you might find the following links useful:

Anita Heiss website (includes a link to her blog and a list of books she has written)
Carol Duncan interview with Anita Heiss on 4th April 2012.

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  1. Teresa Lawrence

    Here here. Susan, you have said it beautifully. I too enjoy Anita’s gratitude and light and humour and seriousness via the social medias. I cannot wait to read the book which is causing such a stir. And if I don’t like it, I will explain it reasonably and rationally. But somehow, I don’t think that will be the case. Respect Susan. Respect Anita.

  2. Cate Bolt

    Thank you, Susan, for saying everything I’ve been thinking. I think Anita is remarkable and it makes me sick to my stomach to have witnessed the attacks on her.

  3. Allison Tait

    Well said Susan. If only everyone were as brave as Anita is to stand behind her words and stand up for everything that she is.

  4. Susan, the Book Chook

    Love this post Susan! Intelligence trumps ignorance every time.

  5. Lizabelle

    So very well said. Thank you for articulating what I, and I’m sure a lot of others, have been feeling over the past week or so.

  6. Wendy Orr

    Powerfully said, Susan. I’m feeling sick to my stomach hearing about these attacks on Anita. It’s beyond belief that things like this happen, but all the more reason to believe it and stand up as you have done. Thank you on behalf of all of us who, to our shame, have felt upset but haven’t acted.

  7. Anita Marshall

    As a fellow “Anita” I am proud to hear of someone who has stood up and said what she believes. It shows strength of character to be able to be counted for your beliefs. We may not always be popular with everyone but at least everyone knows what we are thinking and feeling. Well done Anita. Stand proud.

  8. AnnaM

    Thank you so much for writing this. Like you I’ve been dismayed at the anonymous comments. At times dismayed, at times angry but most of all sad that there is such depth of feeling. Clearly they have never read Anita’s book or blog or see her for who and what she is. Thank you for saying what so many of us are feeling.

  9. Yvette Vignando

    Personal abuse instead of measured disagreement comes from a place of ignorance – ignorance about respect, and ignorance about human relationships. I so love it when someone like you Susan, speaks for the vast majority of us who appreciate and value the many voices that make up our community. I hope Anita knows that whatever offensive rubbish was written or said is not worth a moment of consideration. Power to both of you x

  10. Nathalie Brown

    Although I work with behaviour, anonymous personal attacks are just easy to do behind a screen, coward like and there must be underlying issues they need help with.
    I’ve never met Anita we tweet and she rocks. Fab post Susan Nx

  11. DC Green

    Bravo! Very, very well said, Susan. Stay strong and inspiring, Anita!

  12. Sara Foster

    Thank you so much, Susan, for articulating what we have all been thinking. I find Anita truly inspirational in many ways.

  13. Sandra Smith

    Thank you Susan for standing up for Anita,it never ceases to amaze and anger me that racist and misogynist vitriol hides behind the ‘freedom of speech’ defense. You can’t defend the the indefensible.Well done both of you.

  14. Meredith Costain

    Thank you, Susan, for your thoughtful and measured post, and for standing up for Anita in this public way. And thank you, Anita, for all the good things that you do.

  15. Julie Reilly

    Susan how beautifully you have expressed what those of us blessed to know Anita feel in our hearts. Thank you to you both for being smart strong openhearted inspiring women.

  16. Gail Dawson

    Thanks Susan. Anita is so brave and we acknowledge her. Thank you for being our voice, bringing wisdom and strength back into the debate.

  17. Anita Heiss

    Thank you for your support Teresa! Peace. Anita

  18. Sharon Rundle

    My thanks, too, Susan. Good on you! I have always admired Anita’s strength and integrity, as well as her warmth and good humour. I admire you, too, for your integrity in making your views public and standing up against ignorance and prejudice.

  19. Marg

    I haven’t read any of Anita’s books, but I have seen some of the things that have been said in various social media and been totally horrified!

    Thank you for writing this post.

  20. Rebecca

    Thank you Susan for putting so eloquently here, what I have been thinking in my head whilst reading Ms Heiss’ book that is causing all the controversy. I don’t agree with all that she writes but I do agree with most of it and I thank her for having the courage to put the ideas forth into the public arena. I would encourage everyone to read “Am I Black enough for you?” and challenge yourself. Together we can build a better future for everyone.

  21. Ubaid Rehman

    I will try and read Anita’s book after reading all the things above ! it seems really interesting !

  22. Jude Oliver

    Anita Heiss is a great woman and writer. I don’t expect these behaviors with Anita. So, i think this post is great and it can stop the personal attacks on Anita.

  23. Anita Heiss

    Thank you all for your kind words and support. Peace, Anita