Celebrating 'For Our Elders' NAIDOC 2023 Theme
I am choosing to celebrate this year's NAIDOC Week theme, 'For Our Elders,' by paying tribute to my great grandfather, Bob Appo, and creating a special shirt in his honour. My grandfather's vibrant and lively spirit lives on through me, evident in my art and personality. The shirt bears the powerful message, "Black, white, or Brindle, you are enough." This design draws inspiration from a quote in my grandfather's book, The Most Colour Bowler, which he wrote in 1992 at the age of 60. In the dedication, he wrote, "It just goes to show that no matter what colour you are, black, white, or brindle, if you excel in any sport, you can reach the top through hard work. To the Aboriginal Communities in Australia, don't give up." My grandfather's resilience inspires me to stay strong in the face of adversity.
What strikes me is the parallel between his experiences as a black man in a colonized country and my own struggles as a person of mixed heritage in today's society. I am often judged too quickly based on the lightness of my skin, which fails to reflect the depth of my connection to Country, culture, and lineage. The hearts in the middle of the design symbolize the beautiful range of skin colours within my family tree. This meaningful shirt serves as a simple reminder, worn with pride, that all individuals, regardless of their colour—be it black, white, or brindle—are enough. You owe nothing to anyone; find peace in the knowledge that you are enough.
Below is the description of this year's theme from the Official NAIDOC website if you’d like to learn more.
Our loved ones who pick us up in our low moments and celebrate us in our high ones. Who cook us a feed to comfort us and pull us into line, when we need them too.
They guide our generations and pave the way for us to take the paths we can take today. Guidance, not only through generations of advocacy and activism, but in everyday life and how to place ourselves in the world.
The struggles of our Elders help to move us forward today. The equality we continue to fight for is found in their fight. Their tenacity and strength has carried the survival of our people.
In 2023, how will you celebrate For Our Elders?