” On Monday Studio 10 co-host Kerri-Anne Kennerley berated January 26 protesters.
She questioned whether any one of them had “been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education.”
Fellow panellist Yumi Stynes responded by calling her out as sounding racist, which was met with a shocked “I’m offended” from Kennerley.
This situation was a common example of how deeply offended people become when they are called out for racist behaviour, which is touted as much more offensive than actually being racist.
Indigenous people have had to listen to centuries of non-Indigenous people denigrating and demonising us – that we are a problem to be fixed. The minute that is called out, there is discomfort that the status-quo is not being maintained. It is an immediate and lazy defence mechanism to be offended by being called a racist, rather than unpacking why what you’ve said is perceived as racist and challenging your own stereotypes.
There is no denying that there are social issues that plague Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (there have been continuous protests to draw attention to this) and it is important to open people’s eyes to the everyday lived reality. But these issues are never explained in context.
They are usually delivered with broad-sweeping statements which are ill-informed by decades of deeply-embedded prejudiced reporting. Most often by non-Indigenous people with little to no knowledge of the issues and with no understanding of the historical racism underpinning it.
There is no explanation of the root of these issues, which is intergenerational trauma caused by colonisation, dispossession, the Stolen Generations, entrenched racism, discriminatory policies and poverty.
January 26 symbolises when these social issues began for our communities.
We cannot deal with the current violence, injustice and pain without looking at ourselves in the mirror and into our history.
What the media says matters. When Indigenous people are persistently portrayed as child abusers and other stereotypical labels, it feeds racist attitudes infiltrating the wider population (which have been conditioned by the media) “
Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and National NAIDOC Committee member. She is Media Diversity Australia’s Indigenous Affairs advisor where she co-authored a handbook for better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues. See this article in full Part 2 Below
Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson
” The Australian have an article out at the moment headlined ‘Indigenous leaders back Kerri-Anne Kennerley in racism row’.
The article interviews three members of the Liberal Party for their views on it, suffice it to say that they were all pretty cool with KAK’s comments.
Apparently the Australian are the deciders on who gets to be an ‘Indigenous Leader’, so even though IndigenousX is a site that privileges Indigenous voices, we thought we’d take a different tack on this one.
We thought we’d ask some White leaders about their thoughts on the situation.”
Luke Pearson Founder #IndigenousX : White leaders condemn Kerri-Anne Kennerley over racism row
” The media should take time to reflect on their own views, biases and opinions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and use facts and editorial judgement to challenge, rather than reinforce stereotypes.
Negative reporting is commonplace for our communities.
A recent study of more than 300 articles about Aboriginal health, published over a 12-month period showed that almost 75 percent of these articles were negative. ”
“On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.”
Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (and a former chair of NACCHO) see her opinion article below
Example of #SackKAK Social media
It didn’t take long for lines to be drawn and sides to be chosen in the latest drama out of Ten’s morning panel show Studio 10.
Panellist and Logie Hall of Famer Kerri-Anne Kennerley suggested those marching to change the date of Australia Day didn’t care about social problems and crime in Indigenous communities. Guest panellist Yumi Stynes — the only non-white person on the panel — said Kennerley sounded racist.
Well! KAK was very offended (as people increasingly are when they are called “racist”).
Producers followed up yesterday by having two Indigenous guests with opposing opinions on the show — Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price and former Victorian MP Lidia Thorpe. Meanwhile, the commentariat has fully embraced this latest battle in the culture wars.
In KAK’s corner
Most traditional and conservative media are supporting Kennerley. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today has come out in full support of KAK — she’s on the front page, with Indigenous leader Warren Mundine saying it’s “stupid” to call her racist. Inside the paper, an opinion piece from Jacinta Price that supports Kennerley is given prominence over a counter-opinion from retired Indigenous figure skater and archaeologist Lowanna Gibson.
Its editorial says Stynes “played the racism card”, while on the opposite page the cartoon shows Stynes calling a barista racist for offering her a “short black” coffee.
The Tele‘s broadsheet stablemate The Australian has also run an opinion piece from Jacinta Price, and quotes Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt as defending Kennerley. Andrew Bolt has used his Sky News program and his blog on the Herald Sun website to support Kennerley’s position.
Over at Sydney’s 2GB, Kennerley defended herself on Ben Fordham’s programbefore KIIS’ Kyle and Jackie O called Stynes and Kennerley to talk to about the spat.
Former Studio 10 executive producer Rob McKnight published a blog post on his industry website TV Blackbox on why he would never have let Stynes on the program:
|“||The producers and executives at 10 might be patting themselves on the back over the amount of publicity this confrontation is generating, but not all publicity is good publicity. The headlines alone are causing one of their regular presenters serious brand damage … None of these paint KAK in a good light. In fact, they are very damaging, especially when they don’t represent the point she was trying to make. Essentially, she has been thrown under a bus by a co-host and that’s not cool.”|
In Stynes’ corner
Another example of Social Media activism
Unsurprisingly, online and youth-focussed outlets have leant towards Stynes’ view
Ten’s own news website Ten Daily is leading its website on Wednesday morning with an opinion piece from Yawuru woman Shannan Dodson asking why it’s more offensive to call someone racist than it is to say something racist. See Below
Junkee‘s coverage of the story relied more heavily on social media commentary than specific criticism of Kennerley’s comments, whilePedestrian took a swing at breakfast TV more generally and and flat-out called Kennerley’s comments “racist” without qualification (which other outlets were reluctant to do).
Meanwhile, Indigenous X founder Luke Pearson has published a piece satirising The Australian‘s coverage.
Part 2 Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman continued from opening
Kennerley’s comments were a veiled concern for Indigenous people to mask her discomfort with Australians protesting against a day that solidifies and elevates her status as the dominant culture.
Her response to the backlash today was to reiterate her offense at being labelled racist rather than reflecting on her own position of privilege and why her approach and words were in fact what was offensive.
She says “if you look at ‘racist’ in the dictionary it’s thinking that another racial group is superior or another group is inferior.” The idea that people believe racism is confined to calling someone a racist term fails to acknowledge that racism is systemic and institutional.
It is not a coincidence that the most recent examples of media personalities being called out for being racist have been white women (although white men often make an appearance as well) — think Sonia Kruger, Samantha Armytage, Prue MacSween.
It is because they are comfortably sitting within the hegemonic culture; that experiences all the perks of it, commonly known as white privilege. Or as sociologist Dr Robin DiAngelo puts it “the defensiveness and discomfort that white people display when their racial worldviews are challenged.”
White privilege means turning on the television and seeing people of your race widely represented. It is having your worldview from a position of power and privilege reiterated and presented above all else, without being questioned or given from a different perspective.
Aboriginal people are rarely represented in these discussions (or often just as a knee-jerk reaction if we are). The media often talks about us, laying judgement, without including us in conversations about our own lives and experiences.
The fact is a non-Indigenous person is not going to have the same experience, perspective or reality as an Indigenous person. Not just because of the racism experienced by our communities, but because the system we are living in was methodically set up to exclude and discriminate against Indigenous people.
Our experience in this country is unique to any other. Almost every Indigenous family and community has been affected by the forcible removal of Indigenous children with the purpose of assimilating us and stripping us of our identity and culture.
My own family has been impacted by the Stolen Generations; two of my aunties were forcibly removed from my grandmother and grandfather.
They were not removed for ‘their wellbeing’, they were removed due to racist policies that also saw my Anglo Grandfather jailed for 18 months for loving my Aboriginal grandmother — because it was illegal to cohabit with an Aboriginal person.
That is recent history, my aunties are still alive and that is still having a ripple effect on not only my family but our community and other Indigenous communities across the country. It is a lived real experience, one that is not just a distant memory in history books.
Where is the nuanced discussion in mainstream media when it comes to discussing the social issues we face? Why aren’t we talking about the immense trauma we are still suffering that is projected out into painful acts because the hurt is too hard to bear?
Kerri-Anne Kennerley also goes on to say “Throwing words around can be dangerous and very, very hurtful”.
I ironically agree with the sentiment. Inaccurate or inflammatory reporting from a position of power has a detrimental impact on already oppressed communities.
The media have an influential and permeating impact on how audiences understand and make sense of the world. Whether deliberate or unconscious, those working in the media have the power to influence how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are perceived and understood.
The media should take time to reflect on their own views, biases and opinions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and use facts and editorial judgement to challenge, rather than reinforce stereotypes.
Negative reporting is commonplace for our communities.
A recent study of more than 300 articles about Aboriginal health, published over a 12-month period showed that almost 75 percent of these articles were negative.
What the media says matters. When Indigenous people are persistently portrayed as child abusers and other stereotypical labels, it feeds racist attitudes infiltrating the wider population (which have been conditioned by the media) and continues to fuel prejudice, misconceptions and ignorance.
These stereotypes are internalised for our people, it creates shame and fuels pain and trauma which often isolates people from participating in mainstream society. This perpetuates the cycle of disadvantage.
We are consistently barraged with commentary about how damaged, destructive and broken we are and that we are not taking any responsibility for this. Why should we be the only ones to carry the weight of colonisation and the social impact it has had on our communities? It is our shared responsibility to dismantle the racist institutions that have systematically worked to oppress Indigenous people.
But frankly, I’m tired of carrying the weight and having to constantly justify my humanity and educate the 97 percent of Australians about why saying inflammatory, ill-informed and stereotypical things are racist.
We need more people like Yumi to step up and share the burden and call out racism in all shapes and forms.
Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and National NAIDOC Committee member. She is Media Diversity Australia’s Indigenous Affairs advisor where she co-authored a handbook for better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues. Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson
Part 3 The truth behind Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s ‘racist’ claims on Studio 10
Morning television has a reputation for being typically, well, sedate. But on Monday’s episode of Studio 10, the panel engaged in a debate that has left people fuming.
It centres around an exchange between daytime television stalwart Kerri-Anne Kennerley and presenter Yumi Stynes regarding protests that took place around the country on January 26, which called for the date of Australia Day to be changed and to highlight ongoing oppression and disadvantages experienced by First Nations people.
Kennerley’s take: “Has any single one of those 5000 people waving the flags, saying how inappropriate the day is, has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies five-year-old’s are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education? What have you done?”
To Stynes, the comments sounded “racist”; an accusation that left Kennerley “seriously offended”.
“Just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean I’m racist,” she replied.
But Kennerley’s comments weren’t presented as an opinion – they were presented like fact. So, was she actually right? Let’s take a look
Of course, it should be noted that Kennerley was raising a question rather than making a direct accusation. But it was clearly a loaded one.
Author/filmmaker/actor Elizabeth Wymarra, who was among those to lead a protest against Kennerley outside Channel 10’s Sydney HQ this morning, argued that the premise of Kennerley’s question was not only presumptive and unfounded, but hypocritical.
“There was over 50,000 people that came out and marched in the Invasion Day march in Sydney, and a lot of those people were non-Indigenous people. They were non-Indigenous people who care about the oppression and discrimination of my people,” she stated in a Twitter video. “They’re in solidarity with us, unlike you, so it seems… Last time I checked, I don’t see you coming into my house, or my community, helping my people. So who are you to point fingers at people going to marches?
“You don’t know none of those 50,000 people that marched with us. You don’t know they don’t go to community.”
In remote Indigenous communities “…children, babies, five-year-old’s are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education…
Breaking it down…
Stynes’ criticism of this statement was that Kennerley was implying that “women aren’t being raped here in big cities, and children aren’t being raped here in big cities”. In other words, that sexual violence is a remote Indigenous issue rather than a national one.
That’s clearly not the case. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data indicates that one in five women around Australia have experienced sexual violence since age 15.
There is evidence that Indigenous Australians are more likely to experience sexual violence, though. According to the AIHW, in 2016 the rate of Indigenous sexual assault victims (ie. per 100,000 people) across NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia was between 2.3 and 3.4 times higher than that among non-Indigenous victims.
When it comes to sexual violence against children, the picture is similar. In 2016 the rate of Indigenous children, aged 0–14, recorded by police as victims of sexual assault in the above states was approximately twice that of non-Indigenous children.
Importantly though, data on the sexual assault of women and children in remote Indigenous communities specifically – or “the outback”, as Kennerley put it – is not comprehensive.
The claim that there’s “no education” in outback communities is quite obviously not true. According to Creative Spirits, there are reportedly 17,000 Indigenous children attending school in remote areas.
That being said, there are barriers to accessing education in particularly remote communities. including availability of teaching staff, transport, weather cutting off roads, etc., which impacts attendance rates and outcomes for Indigenous students. For example, while attendance rates among Indigenous students in inner regional areas stood at 86.8 per cent in the first half of 2017, it dropped to 64.6 per cent in very remote areas according to government data.
But overall, nationwide stats show that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attend school and are achieving national minimum standards for literacy and numeracy.
Indigenous university enrolment has also more than doubled over the past decade.
Kennerley responded to that the backlash this morning on Studio 10. While again taking issue with being labelled racist, this time she made an important distinction.
She used the word “some”.
“The statement that I made was about the tragic abuse of women and children in some Indigenous communities,” she said. “Now that is a fact, it’s backed up by a lot of people. It is not a judgement, it doesn’t mean.. thinking a group is superior, or someone is inferior.”