‘I’ll be OK’: emotional Stan takes time out
Stan Grant has broken down as he made a powerful statement after fronting ABC television’s Q+A program before taking a break for a period after being subjected to racial abuse.
“I’ve had to learn that endurance is not always strength. Sometimes, strength is knowing when to say stop and to those who have sent messages of support - thank you so much. But I’ll be OK,” he said at the end of the program on Monday night.
Grant, a proud Wiradjuri man, announced he would be “walking away” from the program in an essay published on ABC’s website on Friday, citing racist abuse while at the helm of the program.
Dozens of employees gathered in front of the broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters at Ultimo, outside Parliament House at Canberra and outside the Melbourne headquarters on Monday afternoon.
On Monday, ABC staff across the country held rallies to show support for Grant.
Staffer Dee Jefferson took to Twitter announcing the walkout, saying many staff share the same experience of racial abuse.
“ABC staff are walking out in support of Stan this afternoon,” she wrote.
“Stan’s experience of racist abuse is shared by so many colleagues. Listening is the smallest part of what we can do to help clean up this mess.”
Grant, 59, hosted Q+A on Monday night with a panel of five MPs and senators who were voted into parliament at the May 21 election.
Most of the program was devoted to discussion about the housing crisis, but at the end Grant made a personal statement about his decision to take time out to a standing ovation.
“Sometimes, we need to just take time out. Sometimes, our souls are hurting and so it is for me. I’ve had to learn that endurance is not always strength. Sometimes, strength is knowing when to say stop,” he said.
“And to those who have sent messages of support, thank you so much. But I’ll be OK. Please, send that support and care to those of my people, and all people who feel abandoned and alone, who are wondering whether they have a place in this country and who don’t have my privileges.
“To those who have abused me and my family, I would just say – if your aim was to hurt me, well, you’ve succeeded, and I’m sorry.
“I’m sorry that I must have given you so much cause to hate me so much, to target me and my family, to make threats against me. I’m sorry. And that’s what yindyamarra means. It means that I am not just responsible for what I do, but for what you do”
Grant said he would not be kept down by the abuse.
“I will get back up. And you can come at me again, and I will meet you with the love of my people. My people can teach the world to love. As Martin Luther King Jr said of his struggle, ‘We will wear you down with our capacity to all love’.
“Don’t mistake our love for weakness it is our strength. We have never stopped loving and fighting for justice and truth - the hard truths - to speak in our land.
“Too often, we are the poison in the bloodstream of our society. I fear the media does not have the love or the language to speak to the gentle spirits of our land. I‘m not walking away for a while because of racism - we get that far too often.
“I’m not walking away because of social media hatred. I need a break from the media. I feel like I’m part of the problem. And I need to ask myself how, or if, we can do it better.
“To my people — I have always wanted to represent you with pride. I know I might disappoint you sometimes but, in my own little way, I’ve just wanted to make us seen. And I‘m sorry that I can’t do that for a little while. To my family - I love you.”
In a lengthy statement on Friday, Grant said the breaking point was vile criticism directed at him following his discussion of colonisation on the ABC’s coverage of the coronation of King Charles.
“Since the King’s coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia.”
Grant said “nothing could be further from the truth” and his ancestors would not allow him to be “filled with hate”.
“I don’t take time out because of racism … I take time out because we have shown again that our history — our hard truth — is too big, too fragile, and too precious for the media.
“I am writing this not because I think it will make a difference. No doubt the haters will twist this, too, and trigger another round of racism,” he said.
Mr Stevens said the segment Mr Grant appeared in was just part of the Coronation coverage and fitted within the ABC’s role to facilitate “such important conversations, however confronting and uncomfortable, and to reflect the diversity of perspectives.”
The ABC Ombudsman is investigating the editorial complaints received about the coverage.
He said the responsibility for the coverage lies with ABC News management, not Mr Grant.
“Yet he it is he who has borne the brunt of a tirade of criticism, particularly in the usual section of the media that target the ABC,” he said in a statement.
“Reporting on his contribution to the panel discussion has been unfair, inaccurate and irresponsible. It has contributed to fuelling horrendous personal and racial abuse.”