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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We are sure you’ve got lots of questions, here you will find responses to some that we are most commonly asked. 

Blak Business is constantly growing and expanding, if you can’t find what you’re looking for here or on our learn page, be sure to check back another time.

How do I know what Aboriginal Country or Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) Island I am on?


Great question! We have a resource answering this question here.




What is 'Blak'?


Please be advised that this explanation relates to "Blak" as it is used in the Blak Business context. Other spaces and people using "Blak" may have different theoretical underpinnings and standpoints on the term.

The first recorded use of "Blak" is by artist Destiny Deacon (K’ua K’ua and Erub/Mer) in her exhibition Blak lik mi (1991). In her exhibition Walk and don't look blak (2004), "blak" is defined as:
“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 (Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004)”.

In addition to Deacon’s definition, "Blak" can be understood as the following:
  • An inclusive term which recognises and embraces the physical diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • A term which distinguishes us as a community separate from other communities that describe themselves as "Black"
  • "Black" without the "c" for "coloniser"

So, what about "Black"?
"Black" has long been used to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by non-indigenous people, as well as by ourselves. This term continues to be used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may use "Blak" and "Black" interchangeably, or favor one over the other, or use neither. Ultimately, identity labels are informed by individual preference.

What should I say? It is impossible to say what all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would like to be referred to as. Best practice is to politely and respectfully ask the person what terminology they prefer. Keep in mind that people may have preferences for how other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples refer to them versus how non-Indigenous peoples refer to them.

Further learning:




What content does Blak Business cover?


Blak Business is not an exhaustive or comprehensive resource.

We use ‘Business’ to mean ‘an area of interest’ rather than ‘retail and enterprise’. Blak Business shares content on a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics including significant dates, achievements, events, current affairs and more.

Blak Business is constantly growing and evolving. Be sure to re-visit our website and follow our Instagram to stay in the loop for our new content.




Can I share Blak Business content?


When you share content on social media it helps to open the conversation to more people than we can reach alone.

We encourage you to share Blak Business' Instagram content by tagging friends in the comments, forwarding friends content via direct message and sharing posts to your stories.

If you are a non-Indigenous business or account with a large social media presence and are interested in reposting Blak Business content, we would appreciate you considering making a donation or getting in touch with us for a yarn.




What does ‘mob’ mean?


‘Mob’ is a colloquial and versatile term used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ‘Mob’ may be used to refer to someone’s language group or Island nation, or to reference a group of people.

For example:

“Who’s your mob?”

Meaning: what language group or Island nation are you from?

“What are you mob doing on the weekend?”

Meaning: what are you group of people doing this weekend?

“Is your doctor mob?”

Meaning: is your doctor Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander?




What is 'Country'?


'Country' is a term used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to refer to the land, waterways, seas, and skies to which they are connected through ancestral ties. 'Country' is a proper noun.

Country is alive. It provides connection, grounding, and relationships with specific places and ancestral beings. We must respect and care for Country.

"For Indigenous Australians, the land is the core of all spirituality and this relationship and the spirit of ‘Country' is central to the issues that are important to Indigenous people today".

- Aunty Tina Brown (Ngunnawal Elder)

Further learning:




Should I buy from brands that are trading in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander space but are not Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned?


There are varied opinions about whether non-Indigenous businesses have the right to profit from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures. We encourage you to learn about the businesses you are supporting to make informed consumer choices.

There are some businesses which trade in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander space which are not Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned. Many of these businesses provide employment and learning opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as artists, models and other workers.

It is important that there is transparency when non-Indigenous people engage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spaces, including business, education, health, politics, etc.

The need for accountability and transparency is not without warrant as there are non-Indigenous businesses which use our culture for their own profit. For example, WAM Clothing has copyrighted the use of the Aboriginal flag, in 2019 Birubi Art was fined $2.3 million in 2019 for selling fake Aboriginal art (notably Ben Wooster, the cofounder of WAM Clothing, was managing director of Birubi Art Pty Ltd), and ‘carpet bagging’ is arguably an ongoing practice.

When considering buying from a business that draws on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander culture, read their website for information about their ownership, community engagement etc. If you cannot find answers to your questions, we encourage you to politely and respectfully contact them for further information; keep in mind that a business may be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander owned but not be advertised as such!

Buying from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses means a greater amount of the money is going into our community. Buying from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses also supports efforts towards self-determination and the establishment of intergenerational wealth; opportunities we have been historically and systematically denied. Buying from non-Indigenous owned businesses means that some (if any) money may go back to our community.

Further learning:




Where can I access video content about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?


The following online platforms have lots of free video content on a variety of topics related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.




What are some other resources for learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics?


When learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics, it is important that you listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. For example, if you’re interested in reading books about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, select books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors.

The following are some of the digital resources Blak Business endorses:




What are some Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander businesses selling merchandise for bubs?


We get asked this question heaps! Here are some businesses that we know about, if you know of more, please let us know.




What is the difference between an Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country?


An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity to acknowledge and pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. An Acknowledgement of Country can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Acknowledgements may be spoken, written, or communicated in another way.

Acknowledgements are typically delivered at large events or gatherings such as the commencement of a meeting, lecture or celebration, and are increasingly being used in digital spaces such as podcasts, websites and other platforms.

For more insight on developing an Acknowledgement, check out our 'Writing a Meaningful Acknowledgemnt of Country' resource on the Learn page.

A Welcome to Country is delivered by an Elder and/or Traditional Custodian on behalf of their Country or group to welcome visitors to their land. A Traditional Custodian (often referred to as ‘Traditional Owner’ or ‘TO’) is someone who belongs to that specific language group/Country. Welcomes may be delivered through speech, dance, song or ceremony.

To invite an Elder or Traditional Custodian to deliver a Welcome to Country, contact your local Aboriginal land council.

Further learning:




What is 'Zenadth Kes'?


In the 1980s, Elder and linguist, the late Mr Ephraim Bani (Wagadagam, Mabuiag Island), coined the term 'Zenadth Kes'. 'Zenadth Kes' is an amalgamation of language which means 'the four winds' in reference to the four winds that pass through the region.

The name 'Torres Strait' came from the Spanish navigator, Luis Vaez de Torres, who sailed through the area in 1606. The 'Torres Strait' is the waterway between the Cape York Peninsula and New Guinea.

The people of Zenadth Kes generally define themselves as being from specific islands, family groups, communities and/or sea country.

"Life without culture is a life without life. Past must exist for present to create the future".

- Mr Ephraim Bani (Gab Titui, 2020)

Further learning:




Can I wear Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander merchandise as a non-Indigenous person?


There are varied opinions about whether or not it is ok for non-Indigenous people to wear merchandise which relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Whilst we cannot give a definitive 'yes' or 'no' answer, the following information is intended to provide guidance for making a decision about whether or not to purchase and wear Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-made merchandise as a non-Indigenous person.

There are dozens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses that sell merchandise such as jewellery, clothing, tote bags, keep cups, face masks and more.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses create their merchandise for all people and take great pride in seeing their items being celebrated and worn by both our community and non-Indigenous people.

However, it should also be noted that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may wear merchandise to show pride in their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity and thus may assume that another person wearing this merchandise are themselves Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. There is some merchandise which is only appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to wear. For example, t-shirts with slogans such as “Straight out the Dreamtime”, “Shades of Deadly” and “Blak Girl Magic” should not be worn by non-Indigenous people, no matter how well-meaning their intention. To make things clear, Clothing The Gap have created ‘ally friendly’ and ‘mob only’ stickers which they attach to their merchandise’s product descriptions to help customers.

Nonetheless, there is a range of merchandise which allows non-Indigenous people to support our community without being misleading. For example, merchandise which says "Not the date to celebrate", "Always Was Always Will Be" and "Free The Flag", as well as Indigenous-round jerseys/guernseys are appropriate for non-Indigenous people.

Non-Indigenous people wearing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-made merchandise can have a powerful influence as it provides broader representation for our community. That is, merchandise may act as a conversation starter in spaces where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not present. It is therefore imperative that non-Indigenous people know who they are buying from and what the merchandise represents. Also, it is important that non-Indigenous peoples' allyship does not only involve wearing a deadly t-shirt.

It is important to know that use of the Aboriginal flag is currently controlled by three non-Indigenous companies, WAM Clothing, Carroll & Richardson Flagworld and Gifts Mat, who hold exclusive licensing agreements. This means that to use the Aboriginal flag on any merchandise a fee must be paid to these non-Indigenous companies. Blak Business does not endorse this practice. We stand with Clothing The Gap’s Free the Flag campaign and encourage you to support it too.





Landing tile artwork and banner: Laila Blackshell

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this site may contain the names, images, stories and voices of people now passed and resting in the Dreaming.

Blak Business acknowledges and respects the Country, sovereignty, knowledge, Ancestors and Elders of all Aboriginal Countries and Zenadth Kes nations. 

 

The Blak Business team come from various Aboriginal Countries and are all visitors on other Countries. We carry ourselves with great respect for these places. 

 

Aboriginal and Zenadth Kes peoples come from over 250 language groups.

Here's how to learn which Country you are on.

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Bringing together information, knowledge and resources to facilitate broader learning and discussion about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics.

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