Grant's essay begins with "The Speech", a presentation he gave at the IQ2 debate in Sydney in late 2015. The transcript of this speech makes up the first chapter of this essay. It is a remarkable speech, but far more potent when viewed as spoken by the man himself when it was "unrehearsed and unscripted".
Taking us back to the invasion and colonisation of Australia, Grant explores the dark history of the way in which indigenous people were brutalised over decades - from massacres and removal from land, to the stolen generations and interventions of modern times. He compares the indigenous experience to one of new migrants carving out a place for themselves in colonial society.
Grant also shares a history not often told, one of economic engagement, ingenuity and self-actualisation. He talks of a growing indigenous middle class, in which talented, well-educated, aboriginal people are making the most of their skills to define their own Australian dream:
The sacrifice and resilience of our forebears has created a burgeoning indigenous middle class: confident, self-assured. They are redefining what it is to be indigenous … the grandchildren of people who emerged from oppressive Aboriginal missions in a segregated Australia are as at home on the streets of New York as Dubbo.Grant is someone who is well aware of his own privilege. But he is angered by the requirements of indigenous Australians to decide whether they will be mainstream or black - as if someone has the right to determine who is and is not indigenous and that these two identities are mutually exclusive.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas when he introduced Alicia Garza to talk about Black Lives Matter, where I recall him questioning the very notion that black lives matter was a dangerous idea. He is currently the Indigenous Affairs reporter for ABC News. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Stan Grant.
Included in this essay is correspondence related to the previous Quarterly Essay (QE62) Enemy Within.