The mother of a nine-year-old boy, who she sent to a school book week parade dressed in blackface, has apologized. But not for ‘blacking up’ her young son and exposing him to widespread social media condemnation.
In a statement to New Matilda, the mother – who New Matilda has chosen not to name because it will identify her son – said she never intended to offend people by using the word “balls” in her original Facebook posting.
The latest Australian blackface scandal roared to life last night, after the Perth mother proudly posted on social media that her son had decided to honour his favourite AFL player. The original New Matilda story is here.
“… My son had book week parade today. He wanted to go as his idol Nic Naitanui from the west coast Eagles (sic).
“I was a little worried about painting him (so many politically correct extremists these days) he is pastey White and if I just sent him in a wig and footy gear, no one would tell who he was.
“So I grew a set of balls and painted my boy brown and he looked fanfuckingtastic.”
Naitanui has Fijian heritage, but was born in Sydney.
The posting sparked a social media storm, with thousands of shares of the woman’s post.
After being contacted by New Matilda, the mother explained: “All I have to say is the text has been taken way out of context. When I said I grew some balls and did it. I did not mean I chose to offend anyone. I meant I chose to stop trying to get my son to choose any other book character, as he has just as much right as ANYONE else to go as who he wants. And that is his idol.”
In her original posting, the mother acknowledged that friends had warned against sending her son to school in blackface.
“After being told by everyone on Facebook not to do it and it’s a horrible idea etc, my son won the fucking parade!!!! Parenting win!
“I’m celebrating by having a wine before 12pm. Love love!”
The mother also took to Twitter to defend her conduct – here’s a tweet she sent yesterday evening.
Blackface incidents have plagued the nation for some years now – beginning in 2009 with a skit on TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday, followed by an international outcry.
In particular the act of ‘blacking up’ has plagued the AFL, which has reeled from racism scandal to racism scandal (over the weekend in Adelaide, a fan was banned from the Port Power club for throwing a banana at Aboriginal star Eddie Betts).
Readers confused about whether or not blackface is bad, should watch this video – a montage from Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled – for a guide to how it’s used to depict people of colour.
Aboriginal rapper and comedian Briggs has led the response to the latest blackface incident on his own Facebook page.
“Again and again. This is the attitude we face every moment. This was such an obviously reckless, racist thing to do – I thought it was a set up. This mother has acknowledged what she was doing was wrong but decided she was going to ‘grow some balls’ and do it anyway with complete disregard to whoever she was going to offend. Can’t let a little bit of racism get in the way of ‘Book Week’.”
Much of the social media outrage also zeroes in on the fact that Naitanui – while clearly an exceptional AFL player – is not a character in a book, and thus shouldn’t be a character in a book week parade.
It remains unclear whether the mother’s claim about her son winning the parade is true. You can read more about blackface on new Matilda here.
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