Culture

Indigenous Rapper Briggs Is Screenshotting And Posting Racial Abuse He Receives On Facebook

"I think that every now and then I can afford to make an example of a few."

Update, 2:32pm: One of the men mentioned in this article, Jason Carlon, has contacted Junkee with an apology for his comments. “I crossed the line with the comments you have seen and am truly remorseful,” Carlon said.

In the last week or so, a number of prominent Indigenous voices raised against the national celebrations held on January 26 have caught in the collective consciousness. Journalist and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant’s meditation on “racism at the heart of the Australian dream” has been watched more than 1.3 million times in just over a week and generated reams of praise. Such was the acclamation, directed towards a prominent Indigenous person unapologetically asking white Australia to confront some of its most despicable qualities, it prompted Grant to write that “the extraordinary and overwhelming response to my speech tells me we are better than this”.

In the days following January 26, though, the ugly flipside of that reaction has been on display. Much as Adam Goodes became a target of constant and vocal racial abuse after his Australian of the Year acceptance speech in 2014, several other Indigenous public figures have been subjected to much of the same after expressing views about January 26 that deviate from the popular narrative.

In Wagga Wagga, newly-awarded Citizen of the Year and Wiradjuri man Joe Williams was ordered by Wagga councilman Paul Funnell to hand back his award after refusing to stand for the national anthem, on the grounds that doing so constituted “disrespect”. The controversy has since made national headlines, with both Williams and Funnell appearing on The Project on Friday night. Williams’ eloquent and heartfelt acceptance speech upon receiving the award, in which he reveals the toll racism has taken on his personal life and his loved ones, has gone almost entirely unnoticed.

Around the same time, VICE released a video featuring Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs and comedian Aamer Rahman riffing on their opinions of ‘Australia Day’ celebrations, which quickly became the focus of racist backlash online. The response was so vehement that VICE quickly released a follow-up video of Briggs and Rahman reading out some of the comments, which in turn generated more angry responses.

All of which came to a head last night, when Briggs shared a Facebook post by Victorian Gunditjmara woman Sis Austin detailing how she had been bullied and harassed online for complaining about a pair of men in blackface costumes at a themed party in Ballarat.

Briggs’ post in support of Austin was quickly met with a wide variety of racist comments, with people calling him a “petrol sniffer” and claiming his opposition to blackface constituted “reverse racism”.

Rather than abandoning the conversation or getting abusive in return, Briggs screenshotted some of the more egregious comments instead, along with a promise to send them to people’s employers.

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Whether Briggs’ name-and-shame strategy results in the trolls quietening down remains to be seen, but it’s worked a treat for Australian model Emily Sears, who’s been sending unsolicited dick pics she receives from men to their wives and girlfriends. Civilising the internet suddenly seems a lot more possible.