Lowanna Gibson has debunked the arguments that Kerri-Anne Kennerley made on Studio 10. Picture: Channel 10
Lowanna Gibson has debunked the arguments that Kerri-Anne Kennerley made on Studio 10. Picture: Channel 10

An open letter to 'racist' Kerri-Anne Kennerley

Dear Kerri-Anne Kennerley,

I must say, I have always enjoyed seeing your warm face on TV but your Studio 10 segment yesterday confirmed something I was unaware of - Yumi Stynes called it - you sound like a racist.

So just in case you ever read this, let's start by debunking your word vomit.

SEXUAL ASSAULT AND VIOLENCE

Weighing in on the weekend's "Invasion Day" protests, you asked whether any of the protesters 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. What have you done?" - and were shocked when it was pointed our what you were saying sounded "quite racist".

I in no way am de-legitimising sexual assault and violence in Aboriginal communities. Of course it occurs in indigenous communities as it does in the wider community.

However, when it comes to indigenous people, I can't get past the fact that people like you perceive violence as something ingrained in Aboriginal culture.

Violence is a part of Australian culture. To prescribe it as a characteristic of one race is narrow-minded and rooted in the racist ideology that labelled Aboriginal people "savages".

After all in Australia, one woman a week and one man a month are murdered by current or former partners.

Now, let's get back to statistics. According to the federal government's report Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018, 14 per cent of indigenous women experienced physical violence in 2014-2015 with 28 per cent of those women reporting "their most recent incident was perpetrated by a cohabiting partner".

 

Kerri-Anne Kennerley on Studio 10. Picture: Channel 10
Kerri-Anne Kennerley on Studio 10. Picture: Channel 10

 

‘Yumi Stines called it — you sound like a racist.’ Picture: Channel 10
‘Yumi Stines called it — you sound like a racist.’ Picture: Channel 10

"In 2014-15, indigenous women were 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-indigenous women, while indigenous men were 23 times as likely to be hospitalised as non-indigenous men," the report said.

"In 2015-16, indigenous children were seven times as likely to be the subject of substantiated child abuse or neglect as non-indigenous children."

I agree, these statistics are grim, however society holds this assumption that all violence upon indigenous people is perpetrated by other indigenous people.

The fact is, 74 per cent of married indigenous people are married to a non-indigenous person. Don't you think holding the assumption that indigenous women only have indigenous partners is more than a little ludicrous and probably racist?

As for indigenous children suffering child abuse and neglect, we must remember: Indigenous children are removed from their homes at an alarming rate and in many cases are placed into non-indigenous homes, where they also suffer violence.

Maybe people should do more research into statistics before making a correlation between culture, race and violence.

 

There’s more to the statistics Kennerley is trying to bring attention to. Picture: Channel 10
There’s more to the statistics Kennerley is trying to bring attention to. Picture: Channel 10

 

'I'M OFFENDED'

Kerri-Anne, what do I say on this? I'm kind of speechless but here it goes: Do you honestly think Aboriginal people exist in this bubble in the outback?

The largest Aboriginal population exists just one hour away from your eastern suburbs home, in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, and trust me, we are suffering too.

The media may report we are being raped but we are also being incarcerated for not paying parking fines, we are dying up to 20 years younger than non-indigenous people, we are being targeted by police, we are dying in custody, we aren't being employed, we aren't being allowed to participate in a cash economy, our autonomy is being taken away from us, we are micromanaged in our government jobs, we are committing suicide at alarming rates because our peoples feel hopeless.

How can you be so offended at being called a racist? Imagine being called an Abo, petrol-sniffer, government bludger, 75 IQ, pretty for an Aboriginal?

It sucks being called a racist but what is worse is experiencing racism.

It's exacerbated when we realise the government is on your side when they reinforce this "unconscious bias" BS, which ultimately protects you and not us, the people who suffer as a result of your ignorance.

Those 50,000 "Invasion Day" protesters in Sydney who you imply are idle and lazy, were protesting much more than changing the date.

People have been protesting before Australia Day was even Australia Day for a future for indigenous people which seems to be much more than what you are doing.

Lowanna Gibson is a retired international figure skater and archaeologist. She grew up in Sydney's west and is a proud member of the Gamillaroi people. She is the younger sister of Nakkiah Lui, a prominent Aboriginal playwright and actor.


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