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Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in sunny, suburban Sydney, the child of two West Indian emigres. In many ways, it was a typical Australian childhood of the 1980s and 1990s – she caught tadpoles in the creek, rode her bike and longed for a cabbage-patch kid. But Maxine was never allowed to forget that her skin colour marked her out as someone different.
As part of our HEY GIRL series of conversations, Maxine is coming to the Wheeler Centre to talk about her own Australian girlhood; a girlhood tainted by racism. Her new memoir, The Hate Race, describes – in both horrific and comical detail – the everyday ignorance and sometimes open hostility she encountered during her school years.
An acclaimed poet, a magnificent storyteller and Wheeler Centre regular, Maxine is a writer whose work traverses form. Praised by critics as ‘incendiary’ and ‘urgent’, The Hate Race follows Maxine’s celebrated debut short-story collection, The Foreign Soil and a recent poetry collection, Carrying the World.
In conversation with Santilla Chingaipe, Maxine will discuss race, growing up and how her girlhood shaped her sense of feminism.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Maxine's short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, the Age, Meanjin, the Saturday Paper and the Big Issue. Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015 and the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize. She was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists for 2015.
Santilla Chingaipe is a journalist and filmmaker whose work explores migration, cultural identities and politics. She is a regular contributor to the Saturday Paper, and serves as a member of the Federal Government’s Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations (AGAAR).
Chingaipe wrote and directed the documentary series Third Culture Kids for the ABC. Other credits include the short documentary Black As Me.
Her first book of non-fiction detailing the stories of convicts of African descent transported to the Australian penal colonies, is forthcoming with Picador in 2021.
The recipient of several awards, Chingaipe was recognised at the United Nations as one of the most influential people of African descent in the world in 2019.
It’s possible Beyonce called it a little early when she declared, Who run the world? Girls! But if girls don’t (yet) rule the whole planet, they will at least rule the Wheeler Centre for one week in October. HEY GIRL examines the experience of girlhood through a feminist lens – from race, identity and sexuality to development and mental health, the role of social media, to the representation of girls in fiction and more broadly in the media.
What defines girlhood and how is that changing? How do experiences and representations of girlhood vary? Join us to explore the challenges that girls continue to face and let’s hatch some plans to kick those obstacles to the kerb.