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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 the author of six books, including the ABIA and Indie award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil (2014), and the critically acclaimed memoir The Hate Race (2016), which is currently being adapted for the Australian stage. Her poetry collection Carrying The World won the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry.
‘Celebrities and corporations spew forth “smash the patriarchy” and benefit financially from that. You want to talk about boards? I want to talk about how some women can’t get a job.’
Santilla Chingaipe is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. Chingaipe created and hosted the Africa Talks series in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, which explored perceptions about African-Australian identity, representation and politics. She also curated Australia’s first all-day, anti-racism festival, Not Racist, But.... Her work explores contemporary migration, cultural identities and politics. She reports regularly for the Saturday Paper and is a member of the federal government’s advisory group on Australia-Africa relations.
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.