25 September 2023

In Black + White

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Warren Mundine, Pantera Press, $32.99.

This substantial autobiography gives a fascinating insight into people, persistent enterprise and politics from an Aboriginal perspective. It comments carefully on why disadvantage persists and what might be done about it.

In the new chapters of his updated memoir, Aboriginal leader and former National President of the Australian Labor Party, Nyunggai Warren Mundane, tells his remarkable, warts-and-all story.

The new chapters in this edition see Mundine sharing his passion for work and empowering those trapped in the welfare cycle. Drawing from personal experience, he believes poverty is not just about money, but about deprivation of basic needs like employment, lack of purpose and aspiration and lack of autonomy and independence.

He details a plan he believes will truly make a difference to communities currently heavily reliant on welfare.

“Compassion is when you see someone in need and you care about them so much you want to see them back on their feet. Pity is when you’ve written off the person in need and your biggest priority is yourself”.

“Redirecting welfare is not mean, it’s having respect for them by not writing them off and believing they’re worthy – and capable – of having fulfilling and independent lives. Let’s take people by the hand and help them become workers. Not as a punishment, not out of cruelty. But as an act of compassion.”

From his early life in country NSW to today, where he frequents the highest echelons of power and business, In Black + White is an inspiring story of an Indigenous life woven into the very fabric of Australia. It also looks at the problematical and delicate issues of politics and race.

In the foreword, Walkley Award-winning journalist Stan Grant says this is Warren’s “song”.

“It is his story of a life like all lives – happy and sad, triumph and failure, hope and trust and disappointment … Warren’s a fighter”. That’s what you can see that in these pages.

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