As Amy McQuire and others have pointed out, there is a problem with the cover of Meanjin’s winter edition.
‘Given the destruction of land, cultures and language is fundamentally tied to violence against Aboriginal women… it feels weird to see Meanjin crossed out in this way.’
This blindness to the subtext of obliterating the word Meanjin with the hashtag #MeToo was mine. I wanted to give the most arresting treatment I could to what I consider to be a significant and thoughtful essay on one of the most important social movements of our time, one element in a body of work that I’m proud to present to readers.
I was wrong to do it.
Meanjin is the Turrbal word for the land consumed by what became Brisbane. It has been the title of this magazine since its foundation in 1940.
To put it simply, the word is more than just the name of a magazine, and it shouldn’t have been mine to obliterate in a design flourish.
Compounding that error was the complex story of the #MeToo movement, a movement created a decade ago by American woman of colour Tarana Burke. As she explained to Ebony magazine it was a grassroots movement designed to provide ‘empowerment through empathy’ to survivors of sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, and harassment in underprivileged communities who typically don’t have access to rape crisis centers or counselors.
‘It made my heart swell to see women using this idea’ she tweeted, as the more recent #MeToo groundswell grew.
That said, in an Australian context, where violence against Indigenous women should be a source of national soul searching, anger and concern, the casual obliteration of a proud Indigenous word with the hashtag of a movement dominated latterly by white women was a gesture of unthinking clumsiness.
I regret it. It’s a reminder of my privilege to not see what now seems so obvious. It’s a reminder that the human stocks of this magazine could be enhanced by a broader range of backgrounds and mindsets in the editorial process.
Meanjin is a constant publisher of Indigenous voices and concerns. This is work of the greatest importance to us as a publication, a publication that does what it can to place Indigenous thoughts and history at the heart of the national cultural conversation.
I should, therefore, have known better. We work with words: the power of this erasure should not have been lost on us.