My Place begins with Sally Morgan tracing the experiences of her own life, growing up in suburban Perth in the 50s and 60s. Through the memories and images of her childhood and adolescence, vague hints and echoes begin to emerge, hidden knowledge is uncovered, and a fascinating story unfolds – a mystery of identity, complete with clues and suggested solutions.
This is a deeply moving account of a search for truth, into which a whole family is gradually drawn; finally freeing the tongues of the author’s mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.
This family tale of misplaced identity and search for place and belonging was well received by our Monday Night group. Sally’s journey to find herself and her people struck a chord in us all, and we had a wonderful discussion on familial origin, racial inequality, personal identity and adoption.
We all believed that Sally’s mother and grandmother sacrificed much to raise the children in a white bred world – they worked hard to avoid their aboriginal heritage – and distanced themselves from their people and their past. This was all done with the best of intentions, and became heart-breakingly apparent as the story unfolded and her grandmother began to tell her tale.
Some one commented that it was as though she was eavesdropping at a very personal level and the writing created an atmosphere of empathy which we all felt, even for Sally’s father who caused much turmoil in her young life.
The contrast between Sally’s childhood family and those she found in her search is a clear picture of the bridge we are yet to forge between Australia’s two peoples. Morgan’s My Place was one of the first attempts at writing some of these truths down, much to her grandmother’s premonistic regret, who believed it would bring them nothing but trouble. But for the thousands who have had the pleasure of sharing Sally Morgan’s story, it has brought unbelievable insight and clarity to Australia’s continuing search for indigenous equality.