A spare and painful true story of 'passing' as white - a hidden branch in the family tree of many white Australians.
A quiet suburban backyard. A small child sits on her grandmother's knee. A little bird arrives in the garden. What has he come to tell us? asks Nana...
This is a true story about lots of little secrets and one big one. It's the spare and painful tale of the author's family and the hidden strands she found underweaving its history - a story embedded in the ancestry of many white Australians.
What was it that Lynette's grandmother could not tell her? Why did she cover her face in pale make-up? Who was her own mother, Emily, the 'Polynesian princess'? And what happened when Emily 'was taken away from us for some time'?
In A Little Bird Told Me, Lynette Russell finds out the answers to these questions, unearthing secrets kept by her family for generations. In doing this, she learns who she really is - and comes to know the importance of belonging.
This poignantly written memoir takes us beyond the legacy of madness and the tenacity of identity, revealing the defences and denials we all sometimes need to survive.
Lynette Russell grew up in a working class outer-Melbourne suburb, where her keen interest in social justice was forged. She trained as an archaeologist before shifting her research interests to focus on history and sociology. While at Melbourne university, she began to investigate her own heritage, pursuing the secret family history that she reveals in A Little Bird Told Me.
Russell has worked in various Aboriginal organisations, including the Victorian Native Title Unit and Deakin University's Institute of Koorie Education. She has published widely, and is the author of Savage Imaginings (2001).
Currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies at Monash University, Lynette Russell is committed to reconciliation and the history-education of white Australia, social justice and above all, the success of the Essendon Football Team.