Let Brooke / Abbie Saga remind us white people must listen

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The biggest story in Australian pop culture this month, maybe even this year, was when the proud wife Noongar-Yamatji and the latest Bachelorette Brooke blurton said her experience was marred by what she saw to be “a clear display of narcissism” and “another white woman showing what white privilege looks like.”

It was later revealed that this statement was actually about her friend. Abbie chatfield publicly post about her blossoming romance with an eliminated candidate Konrad Bien-Stephen, via a “hard launch” style post to his Instagram the day before the season finale. While Abbie has publicly apologized for her actions, it has now become a perfect case study to highlight the importance of speaking out against white privilege and white feminism, when it happens.

Before I get into the thick of it, I should note that I am speaking about this as a white woman living on unceded Wurundjeri land. But that’s why it’s important, because I think white people have a responsibility to talk about our privileges and our racism – and call it out with our friends – when we see it coming, or when someone other points out. It’s an uncomfortable thing to chat, but it’s only when we have these uncomfortable conversations that we really learn.

And if indigenous voices are systematically ignored, it is up to us as whites to use our platforms to speak out.

With the storm around Brooke and Abbie, this only confirmed to me that there is always more work to be done and more conversations to be had to help dismantle this specific brand of deeply patriarchal performative and false-awakened feminism. .

If we dissect the situation between the two women (and their respective fans), we have a lot to learn. Although we are all human, and humans notoriously shit, our character as decent people is judged by what we do. to do with the lesson we have learned from these mistakes and the mistakes of others.

First, if Brooke – as a First Nations woman – says something smacks of white privilege or white feminism, we as non-natives cannot dispute that. Certainly not. It’s not 100% for us to go into the comments and figure out what is or isn’t oppressive to someone from an already oppressed group. There’s no argument in there, so don’t even bother.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of white women accept Abbie’s apology on behalf of Brooke in the comments section, which is also worth a bit of discussion. The apologies were for Brooke and other First Nations people who were also hurt by her actions, not Abbie’s supporters. Should Abbie have released this public apology? Absoutely. But is it up to us as whites to accept and forgive? Not at all.

Abbie posting her public apology was a big step in the grand scheme of things – it meant that she took direct responsibility for her actions and the actions of her fan base. Maybe in the future, apologies of this importance should have the comments section turned off. Maybe there needs to be another conversation about not cultivating spaces where white people can congratulate each other for doing the bare minimum, and instead apologize only for the one (s). people to whom it is addressed.

And while we talk here about all that this unfortunate saga has taught us, the people – and certainly whites – in positions of power and influence, who have this huge following and an audience that listens to them, must take responsibility. to ensure other micro-attacks do not exist on their public platforms. Not just taking responsibility for our own bullshit, but also holding our communities accountable.

There is certainly more than what can be done; even if it’s just about turning off people’s ability to put their money where it’s not needed, or actively engaging with feedback to hold our circles accountable. This isn’t Abbie’s sole responsibility, it’s everyone’s responsibility to stand and hold their friends accountable for actions and words, both online and in our day-to-day lives.

If there’s one last important thing we can all learn from this real-time instance of self-responsibility and the recognition of inherent privileges, it’s that we always should, always, listen actively to people directly affected by racism, even slight ones. Their voice is the only one that matters in these situations, before anyone else, especially ours.

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Image: Instagram / @abbiechatfield



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