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‘Right out of the racist’s playbook’: Aboriginal Elders condemn Samantha Armytage and Prue MacSween

After threatening Seven West Media, Sunrise host Samantha Armytage, and media personality Prue MacSween with Federal Court action earlier this month, a group of Aboriginal Elders have condemned Armytage and MacSween for “uneducated, ignorant and offensive comments” on social media.

Yesterday, MacSween tweeted that Nestle rebranding Red Skins and Chicos is “woke nonsense”, and last week said she was “heading out to buy Coon cheese, Coco Pops and Colonial beer” to “support these brands under attack” from “PC [politically correct] imbeciles”.

In response, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, through a statement from the group’s lawyers, said MacSween and Armytage “are exposing themselves” and “Australia’s black history is finally showing its face, its true colours”.

“I think it is entirely appropriate that the statues, brands and symbols that glorify Australia’s colonial history of genocide are challenged and reconsidered,” she said.

“As an Aboriginal Australian, these big glorified statues make me feel that I am just not valued, that I’m nothing, that I don’t matter; that the suffering of my people, my family and my community doesn’t matter.

“When they put all these statutes up reminding Aboriginal people that this nation is honouring people who have stolen your land, killed your families, stolen your culture, and stolen your children and reinforcing that everyone else is benefiting from living on your tribal land.”

The planned racial vilification law suit – it still does not appear that any documents have been filed in the Federal Court to initiate proceedings – relates to a widely-condemned 2018 Sunrise segment on Indigenous adoption.

Sunrise “platformed wealthy white women calling for a Stolen Generations 2.0” Aunty Rhonda said of the segment, in which MacSween commented: “Please don’t worry about the people who will decry and hand wring and say this will be another Stolen Generation.

“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again.”

“Yeah,” Armytage responded.

Settlement negotiations regarding a racial discrimination complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission collapsed, leading to the proposed court action.

The panel that appeared during the segment

Last week, Armytage shared screenshots of a number of violent, threatening and abusive messages she has been sent since reports of the planned court case, and denied suggesting a second Stolen Generation in the 2018 segment.

But Aboriginal Elder Aunty Debbie Swan said Armytage is attempting to “turn herself into the victim”.

“You always hear ‘I’m not racist but…’ That is the trouble with people like Samantha, they don’t know racism when they see it because they’ve been doing it for so long and getting away with it,” she said.

“We know racism and racial vilification because we deal with it every single day of our lives. How Samantha manages to turn herself into the victim is a miracle right out of the racist’s playbook.

“The reason we decided to take a stand in this case is because it is just not acceptable for prominent, influential people like Samantha Armytage and Prue MacSween to get away with such inflammatory, uneducated comments in 21st century modern Australia on national television or anywhere else.” 

View this post on Instagram

I’d like to address a segment I hosted on Sunrise in 2018. It covered comments by a government minister calling for new adoption laws following the rape of a two year old girl in the Northern Territory. I was completely horrified & sickened by the incident (I still am) and ANY act of child abuse or neglect toward ANY child. We discussed the topic because it was front page news that day. AT NO STAGE DID I SUGGEST A SECOND STOLEN GENERATION. The media regulator ruled Sunrise “breached” the rules. Sunrise ran a follow-up segment involving indigenous experts. Sunrise apologised unreservedly & has generously compensated those people whose blurred images were shown in the segment. Yesterday, a group of people announced they would now commence new proceedings. Media reports about this have also mentioned another segment I did, back in 2015, about bi-racial twins. Anyone who actually watches that video can clearly see I was being self deprecating & was commenting on my own Irish heritage & troublesome pale skin. The twins involved agreed. My words may have been clumsy but they were certainly NOT racist. I’ve attached a few of the tens of thousands of threats I’ve received over the past week, mainly from people who claim they wish to spread peace. Most use violence towards me, some towards my dog Banjo. There is no place for racism in our country our media or our hearts. There should also be no place for violence or threats.

A post shared by Samantha Armytage ⭐️ (@sam_armytage) on

Armytage wrote on Instagram: “At no stage did I suggest a second Stolen Generation.

“The media regulator ruled Sunrise ‘breached’ the rules. Sunrise ran a follow-up segment involving indigenous [sic] experts. Sunrise apologised unreservedly & has generously compensated those people whose blurred images were shown in the segment.”

Aunty Rhonda said this is “simply not true”.

“She expressly agreed with Prue’s call for a second Stolen Generation – it is clear in the segment transcript for all to see,” she said.

In 2018, the Australian Communications and Media Authority found the Indigenous adoption segment was inaccurate and provoked racial contempt. Seven criticised the ruling, and instigated court proceedings against the watchdog, before ultimately backing away from legal action.

Members of the Yirrkala Aboriginal community who featured in unrelated file footage broadcast during the segment also commenced defamation proceedings. That court case was settled in December last year for an undisclosed sum, with Seven ordered to pay for their legal costs, and agreeing to issue a public apology.

Armytage’s Instagram caption continued: “Yesterday, a group of people announced they would now commence new proceedings.

“Media reports about this have also mentioned another segment I did, back in 2015, about bi-racial twins. Anyone who actually watches that video can clearly see I was being self deprecating & was commenting on my own Irish heritage & troublesome pale skin. The twins involved agreed. My words may have been clumsy but they were certainly NOT racist.”

The 2015 clip resurfaced earlier this month and went viral after being circulated in the US following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The Aylmer twins come from a mixed race family in the UK,” Armytage said.

“Maria has taken after her half-Jamaican mum with dark skin, brown eyes and curly, dark hair but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin – good on her – along with straight red hair and blue eyes.”

Mumbrella has approached Seven for comment.

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