A deep sadness: reflections about the racist treatment of Stan Grant

May 28, 2023
Stan Grant participates in a 'Reclaim' performance during The Vigil on the eve of Australia Day at Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney, Monday, January 25, 2021. Image: AAP /Paul Braven

As the people of Thailand say, ‘same, same.’ Here we go again. Another indigenous Australian, and this one an educated, travelled, and articulate First Nation public intellectual is being maligned.

Stan Grant has stepped away from the ABC, as a result of persistent and vitriolic racist abuse.

The persistence of racism

Those most aligned with Donald Trump in the Republican party do not support black rights or gun control. The racists in this country do not acknowledge the wrongs inflicted upon our indigenous First Nations peoples, continue to affirm their white supremacy, and seem to assume an inherited privilege. They regard that their abuse is warranted. However, they are on the wrong side of history, and an embarrassment.

My fear is that too many other Australians share their racist attitudes if not a fear about black equality; my hope is that most of us show decency, humanity, and empathy towards our First Nation citizens by voting ‘yes’ in the forthcoming referendum. Our First nations colleagues do not need or want our pity – just our acceptance as equals under the sun and whose concerns will be listened to in the Voice.

My sadness about racism

As an older, proud, white – yes, white – Australian, I feel a deep sadness about what is happening here. Stan Grant’s treatment is just another all too familiar example. Perhaps we need a #BlackLivesMatter revitalisation?

My values and education have fostered not just a tolerance for diversity, but a celebration of it. Are we not better people culturally, intellectually, socially, artistically, and politically for embracing other cultures? As a university lecturer and a community worker of some fifty years, I can only marvel at the range and depth of views and experiences shared by other peoples.

Are we not richer for living here, beneficiaries of the land and living among the stewards of the oldest living culture on earth?

The racists in this country have no idea of the depth of sadness that some of us feel when people like Stan Grant are treated like he has been. We are much less for his departure from ABCQ & A. Where is the wider community support for him?

I am one who says ‘enough is enough.’ Have we learnt nothing about our past? Do we not see what is happening? Do we not wish to work towards a collective and prosperous future – together?

My questions here are rhetorical. They will never be seen by racists let alone answered sensibly by them.

A way forward in the face of racism

What can we do?

I hope that writing here in Pearls and Irritations is not merely ‘preaching to the converted.’ Racists do not access the informed and respectful debate in P & I as we try to. They seem to prefer to be consciously ignorant about our own black history, colonisation and the Frontier Wars. They seem to be comfortable in the echo chamber of their own biased views.

Stan himself has graciously admitted he might be part of the problem as a member of the media. Really? He has offered nothing but love and understanding – just like the generosity of spirit shown in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

I am not generous enough to offer love and forgiveness to racists. Just some energy in my senior years to try to overcome and counter their bias. And to invite other contributors to P & I to suggest effective strategies to deal with such racist abuse as Stan has experienced.

And to sound a warning that we also not become our own echo chamber as a community …

In the meantime, my hope is that the Voice will pass and a pathway to a committed, united future might be affirmed. My hope is that sense and decency will prevail.

My hope is that we will be more self-assured, mature, and united when we do become a republic.

And I for one would be a proud, white Aussie if Stan Grant was a candidate as our first President.


For more on this topic, P&I recommends:

Ray Steinwall, Stan Grant did not invent anti-imperialism; he just had the courage to speak about it and got shot down

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