McDonald’s condemns franchisee after video shows him claiming his neighbour is not a ‘true Aboriginal’
The man who filmed a viral video of his neighbours questioning his Aboriginality and attempting to tear down his Aboriginal flag has implored people not to continue singling out those who abused him, as his community tries to turn the incident into a positive.
- The Indigenous artist who filmed his neighbours abusing him says their behaviour is part of an environment where racism is ingrained
- Hundreds, among them a Victorian parliamentarian, turned out at a rally in Mildura after Robby Wirramanda Knight’s video went viral
- An Indigenous speaker at the rally said he hoped the video could help to spark positive change
About 200 people gathered near the Murray River in Mildura on Saturday to take a public stand against racism, a week after Robby Wirramanda Knight’s video spread online with the hashtag #toostrongforyoukaren.
Mr Knight, a Wergaia man and deputy chair of the First Peoples of Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation, told the crowd he “would really like to try to take away the individual names attached to this incident.”
“The individual has become a product of the environment in which they were raised,” he said.
“This environment has been built over the past couple of hundred years by thousands of leaders.
“This is going to take thousands of leaders to fix the environment in which the individual is raised.”
Robby Wirramanda Knight told the crowd his neighbours were a product of their upbringing. (Supplied: Russell P Murphy)
‘Every f***ing day’
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up about 4 per cent of the population in the Mildura region.
The region’s representative in Victorian Parliament, Ali Cupper, said that if the viral video incident had one positive, it was that “we know the truth now”.
“The one good thing that’s come out of the Rob and Karen incident is I now know — and I hope all of the white people here now know — that this is Aboriginal people’s lived experience every f***ing day,” she said at the rally.
Ali Cupper told the rally the viral video gives an insight into the kind of prejudice Indigenous people face all the time. (Supplied: Russell P Murphy)
“And how disgusting is that.”
Ms Cupper said it was “important to understand what this problem in us is”, and that “there is nothing Aboriginal people can do to cure racism”.
“Racism resents Aboriginal people’s existence and we can see that because even when Aboriginal people look like us and talk like us and live in houses that are as flash as ours and earn more money than we do, we still hate them,” Ms Cupper said.
“We’re still racist because racism is about existence.
“That is a terribly confronting thing, but unless we name that and understand it, we can’t fix it.”
A sizeable crowd turned out the rally to show their support for the Indigenous community and to take a stand against racism. (Supplied: Russell P Murphy)
Hope for the future
Mildura councillor Helen Healy was one of three women who helped organise and promote the rally in the days after the incident that made national headlines.
She sought official council support for the event and had told fellow councillors, before the video was filmed, of her objections to celebrating Australia Day on January 26.
“To truly walk alongside Aboriginal people, we need to do the hard work, we need to understand the deep history of Australia, we need to understand what happening during colonisation and invasion,” Cr Healy said at the rally.
Darren Perry says he hopes the viral video will mark a turning point in people’s attitudes in the region. (Supplied: Russell P Murphy)
“Sometimes it’s hard, but if you show support and create a safe space for the victim, that’s doing a really powerful thing, rather than taking on the perpetrator.”
Darren Perry, a Ngintait man and the chair of the recognised traditional owner group of the area, said he hoped the rally would come to be seen as a turning point for the region.
“We’re going to stand up and show everyone that that’s not how we live here, and that’s not how other people should live anywhere, because we’re all just as good as each other,” Mr Perry said.
“It’s the new beginning from something ancient, and great things will come.”
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