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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Australian Aboriginal Actors Denounce Racism on TV Series Set

SYDNEY – Two aboriginal actors have said they experienced racism while shooting for a popular Australian television series, sparking controversy in the Oceanian country.

Shareena Clanton alleges that while working this year on the popular TV soap “Neighbors,” she heard executives and colleagues use racial slurs or jokes against women and people of color.

“The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracized and further marginalized,” Clanton wrote on her Instagram account on Tuesday, adding that she would never work on the series again.

Fellow actor Meyne Wyatt, who last year was the first indigenous artist to win the prestigious Archibald Prize, denounced on Twitter that he had also experienced racism and homophobia while working on “Neighbors” between 2014-2016.

“It made for a very unsafe environment for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community and the shit needs to be stamped out,” he said, calling for a change in the series and in the Australian film and television industry.

Fremantle Media, which produces “Neighbors,” says they had “significant and lengthy discussions” with Clanton during her time on the show, without mentioning the issues discussed at those meetings.

“Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process,” said the production house behind the show, which has been criticized in the past for not reflecting Australia’s ethnic diversity, according to public broadcaster ABC.

The comments by the aboriginal artists have sparked controversy on social media when some users criticized the actors.

“Calling out racism exposes MORE racism and racist trauma in Australia,” Shareena Clanton said in response to her critics.

The allegations of racism coincide with the release of the annual report of Amnesty International on Wednesday, in which it criticizes of the treatment of indigenous Australians, who represent just over 3 percent of the 25 million inhabitants of the country.

“Australians like to see ourselves as living in the lucky country, and that’s true for the privileged among us, but there are swathes of our community who are unable to access justice and the basic rights to which we’re all entitled,” said Amnesty International Australia National Director, Samantha Klintworth.

Australia’s aboriginal people have suffered the appropriation of their ancestral lands since British colonization in the 18th century, as well as the removal of their children to be cared for by white families or institutions as part of a policy of assimilation.

In May 2017, around 300 representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population signed the Uluru statement calling for constitutionally guaranteed political representation through an indigenous advisory body, and a pact with the federal government that would give them powers on matters concerning the community, as well as “truth-telling” of its colonial history.


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