Taking ownership of language is a fundamental stage in any People's journey towards self- determination. Historically the word black has been used to connote something negative and dis-empowering for the people who have been at the receiving end of race-based insults. The term Black was used to denigrate the cultural and racial origin of an individual or community. An example of this was in a high-profile case where racist and labelling language was used to express domination.
Like recent moves by some community organisations from Indigenous back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and/or language names, Blak is an expression of taking back power and control within a society that doesn't encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as opportunity for self-determination as individuals and communities.
Destiny Deacon first used the term in 1991 in an exhibition Blak lik mi. In her 2004 MCA exhibition, Walk and don't look blak, "blak" is defined as:
Blak: a term used by some Aboriginal people to reclaim historical, representational, symbolical, stereotypical and romanticised notions of Black or Blackness. Often used as ammunition or inspiration. This type of spelling may have been appropriated from American hip-hop or rap music.
Who has used the term, Blak?
Some of the artists and writers who have also used the term Blak
Why do we need to celebrate Blak History? Isn't Australian history enough?
There is so much work to be done in re-remembering all that has happened in Australia. You only have to look at the television in Australia and reading newspapers to know that Australian popular culture generally fails to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Blak History Month is a positive, grass-roots celebration and commemoration of all that has been forgotten by "Australian" history.
Could blak history month refer to non-Indigenous people too?
Technically no one person or group own any part of Blak history month, so it's quite possible that other cultural groups from non- Indigenous Australian heritage could participate. However July does have special significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the 1st of July celebrated in the Torres Strait as the Coming of the Light and the 2nd week in July being NAIDOC week.