There’s Blackface, And Then There’s… Well… This Idiot

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Blackface is big international news at the moment, after numerous German fans turned up to a recent World Cup match against Ghana sporting the preferred face-paint of morons and racists everywhere.

The outrage is so great that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has promised to crack down on racism at the World Cup, and eject fans who disrespect people of colour.

But back home in sleepy Australia – where Blackface is apparently NOT offensive and perfectly acceptable – a young Queensland party-goer has decided to take racist stupidity to a whole new level.

The party, in the central Queensland coastal town of Gladstone, is raging on this evening with a combined 21st-land lovers theme to honour land-locked nations.

As you might expect, there’s plenty of animal onesies, including a girl in an elephant onesie, and another in a Kangaroo onesie.

There’s even a Pharoah outfit. But the outfit of the party goes to Kylie Geissler, a young apprentice fitter and turner with the Gladstone Shire Council. Kylie decided that Ethiopia was the country for her.

And of course, no Ethiopian outfit would be complete without painting your face and body black, and then throwing in a pair of fake black breasts for good measure.

The picture is tonight doing the rounds on Facebook, to hoots and hollers from friends both at the party, and beyond.

It was originally shared by Hannah Jefferies, a young Gladstone woman who, ironically, works for a company called Bechtel Corporation, a project management group which uses its Facebook page to promote the work it’s doing to alleviate poverty in India. Where Blackface is probably not acceptable.

Fellow party goer Alana Maree Cooke – also a Bechtel employee – was particularly excited by the post: “F*ck you have nice t*ts Kylie hahahahaha.”

Unfortunately, for the partygoers, the picture also turned up on the newsfeed* of Hayley McQuire, a mutual friend of one of the attendees. Ms McQuire happens to be the younger sister of former National Indigenous Times editor and prominent Aboriginal journalist Amy McQuire.

Ms McQuire also happens to be a rather successful young Aboriginal woman in her own right – she’s the Australian representative on a United Nations committee which focuses on education.

And that’s precisely what Ms McQuire decided she’d try and do – educate, politely, the group, by linking to articles about Blackface and racism, including a link to the World Cup furore.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ms McQuire’s comments sparked… you guessed it, racist abuse.

Cory Hilder, living in Gladstone and originally from Ingham replied with: “Ay, where’s the goon?”, a reference to ‘goon bags’, cheap cask wine that white people claim are the favoured drop of Aboriginal drinkers.

And then [another poster – name withheld]decided to up the ante a bit.

“It’s not racist it is a dress up theme for land lover so I think it quite fits the theme!! Stop being a twat. Do you realize no one gives a f*ck. I’m not Aboriginal either c*nt.”

The comments have since disappeared from the Facebook page (but not before they were captured via screen-shot, of course!).

Hayley McQuire was both appalled, and perplexed.

“I don’t even know why she said ‘I’m not Aboriginal’,” Ms McQuire said. “No-one asked her if she was. But sorry, I am Aboriginal, and I find this sort of thing really annoying.

“I’m very passionate about education and making sure that Australians understand history and how it still affects people today.

“There’s just no excuse for being this ignorant when people have access to the internet on their phones and computers.”

Ms McQuire said she was particularly stunned at the response she received given her posts weren’t aggressive, and linked to articles that left no doubt about international opinion on Blackface.

“After I shared articles about Blackface, including an international article about why it was offensive, they still denied it was.”

The irony for Ms McQuire couldn’t be greater, given where she’s just returned from as a youth representative with the UN.

“I just got back from Brussells. I had to deliver a speech in front of education ministers from around the world,” Ms McQuire said.

“It was the Ethiopian minister who came up to me afterwards and said he liked my speech. That just makes me that little bit more angry about how ignorant these people are.

“It’s embarrassing when you go to these events and represent Australia, a country with such a good reputation for what we contribute internationally to education, and yet we seem to be failing our own.”

New Matilda is awaiting a response from Ms Geissler.

UPDATE: New Matilda was sent the following response late this evening: “F*ck off it’s her 21st she will dress like she wants. Get your facts right for one she (sic) not even paying out on anyone so his (sic) about you and your mag go find a real story (sic).”

* CORRECTION: The article originally stated that offending photo was shared on the wall of Hayley McQuire. In fact the article appeared in her newsfeed. The story has been corrected above.

* New Matilda is an independent Australian news site, and currently relies entirely on subscriptions for its survival. You can help fund New Matilda here. Sharing our stories on social media helps as well.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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