HS Interview: Teela May Reid

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Teela May Reid. Lots of mob call me Teela May, I was born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW on my country – Wiradjuri and Wailwan. My mother named me Teela, after a warrior that rides a unicorn from a comic book!

I have really fond memories of growing up on my country, but there was always this feeling of injustice in my belly about what happen to my people.  Lots of my mob were forced onto missions and grew up in humpy’s, we didn’t really have much but we had mob and that’s all that mattered. My favourite memory would be sitting around the campfire and my grandfather spinning yarns until the early morning and we would drag the mattresses out under my nans tree in the front yard and sleep.

I didn’t really leave my hometown of about 2500 until I was 18! My first trip overseas was for basketball and from there I’ve been lucky to travel the world and Australia a bit. I think the beauty of travel is that it makes you reflect and that really fired me up to want to make change in Australia – for my people.

I grew up playing heaps of sport, basketball, touch footy, swimming, hockey, netball, distance running – anything! I think sports harnessed my competitive streak and cultivated a sense of discipline and collective ethic in me that transpires in the activism I do today. I went to my local public primary and high schools, then graduated uni as a PE teacher before I decided to become a lawyer.

Let’s talk about the Blackfulla book club.

@blackfulla_bookclub we just want to share our love of First Nations storytelling, honour our ancestors as the original storytellings and empower others to read and write the revolution! We have had an overwhelming response with mobs engagement and its so deadly when mob DM’s us what they are reading – we are learning so much!

We always wanted to create or join a bookclub but with our demanding jobs we could never find the time with the rapid pace of life pre-covid. Recently, with isolation Min started a zoom bookclub for black lawyers and I texted her and suggested we should make an Instagram page to share our books and engage with mob about First Nations storytelling. So I created the platform @blackfulla_bookclub and we both admin the handle randomly. We don’t have any rules to it, we just post whatever comes to us!

Share a characteristic/attribute that you believe you bring to this initiative that you have and appreciate and tell us how you bring it to the work that you do.

I think Min and I both bring different elements to the platform that seems to capture a cross-section of mob and intrigued a range of followers. I like more politically powered reads on feminism and bringing down the patriarchy, essays and poetry whereas Min is really into futurism and fiction. But we both LOVE childrens books and the arts. Our lives have been influenced by storytelling from elders and old people.

How do you take care of yourself during these unprecedented times?

I’m a criminal defence lawyer by day, so I have been working right throughout the COVID19 pandemic. The consequence of COVID19 means there are no hearing dates, meaning many of my clients are currently in prison either on remand waiting to be sentenced or for a hearing date to defend their innocence. Right now it means running a lot of bail applications to ensure individuals are released safely into the community. NSW has taken a very hard line with defendants, the police are out in force, the prosecution have been instructed to opposed all bail applications so its difficult work in usual circumstances.

It’s so important I stay healthy and focused to ensure I do the best job I can because peoples liberty is in my hands. I’ve really embraced a new routine of running, yoga, indoor circuits, reading and writing in my journal that has helped to balance my mental health. Also making sure I eat well and fuel myself properly and get enough sleep! And continuing to check in with mob and loved ones keeps me grounded despite the distance

Quick Fire

Favourite book?

TOO MANY! Go to @blackfulla_bookclub !

Favourite bookstore?

Lots and LOTS! We have bookstores that have already collaborated with us like @betterreadthandead. UQP have contacted us and sending up a stack of books to give away! Magabala Books is a great First Nations publisher! We have been contacted by @thenestcreativespace to engage with their space. So many spaces are reaching out and we cant wait to see @blackfulla_bookclub evolve and collab with bookstores & creative spaces to embrace First Nations storytelling and build a platform where our ancestors voices shine through!

Best way to unwind?

R U N N I N G!

What is a 10/10 series you’re watching?

Right now I’m watching THE LAST DANCE documentary on Michael Jordan. BUT I really loved SHES GOTTA HAVE IT on NetflIx by Spike Lee! I binged that series big time.

Honest coffee order?

It depends on my mood – lols. Usually a strong flat white ¾ full, but I’ve been having instant moccona coffee now that’s as strong as a long blak.

Sweet or savoury?         

Both!

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