The Verdict: Miranda Tapsell doesn't feel Australian
The actress is candid about the difficulties she has faced growing up black in Australia on Channel Nine's The Verdict.PT0M30S 620 349
Miranda Tapsell is a national treasure.
Earlier this year the Love Child actress won hearts with the speech she gave after winning a Logie, in which she called for more diversity and inclusiveness on Australia's incredibly whitewashed TV screens.
On Thursday night, she returned to the topic, bravely taking her seat on Channel 9's shock jock flop of a panel show The Verdict despite the fact that the show doesn't exactly cater to thoughtful, measured discussions or concepts like empathy.
Miranda Tapsell in Blaque Showgirls, part of the 2016 Malthouse Theatre season. Photo: Supplied
Tapsell didn't just survive the show: she was also able to offer a shockingly candid insight into how it felt for her to grow up being treated as an outsider in your own country.
"I was called gin bag, nigger, like really full on derogatory stuff," Tapsell said of her childhood experience of racism.
"You don't think that you're worth it. I felt invisible as a teenage girl because I would look at the women that represented a lot of the media and they were tall they were blond, they were blue eyes, they had fair skin and here I am this short Aboriginal and I thought, 'there's not much chance for me'."
When Karl Stefanovic asked her if she identified as Australian, she said no.
"When I go to Australia Day," she told him, "I don't feel like an Australian that day, because essentially people are telling me that I can't be a part of that."
Unfortunately, and wholly unsurprisingly, the reaction of far too many Australians to these words was not to listen, understand, and reflect on them. It was to take offence - because as is made clear time and again in this country, the feelings of white people are the standard by which all others should be measured.
Showing a wilful lack of both comprehension skills and historical awareness, just about everyone who's taken offence at Tapsell's comments saw her as 'rejecting' Australia. When what she actually spoke about was about how Australia rejects and marginalises Aboriginal people like her - especially on our national day which is a celebration of the British arrival and by extension a denial of the right of Aboriginal Australians to mourn that turning point, and what followed it.
Tapsell doesn't identify as Australian because white Australian culture belittles, patronises, others and erases her, her people and their heritage and rights. Australian culture does next to nothing to identify or align itself with Aboriginal people except through simplistic, tourist-friendly imagery that whitewashes the reality of both history and present.
Why would a proud Aboriginal woman identify with a national identity that actively seeks to suppress her?
Ironically, the racist vitriol that spewed forth on The Verdict's Facebook page afterwards completely vindicated Tapsell's position - and beautifully showcased the narcissistic bigotry of anyone claiming to be offended that someone who's been dealing with racism her entire life would have the gall to speak out about it. She was called a "princess", a "racist", a "sooky la la" and a number of words and phrases that don't deserve repeating.
This country can only hope that one day it will be deserving of the likes of Miranda Tapsell to count herself in.