‘Stan Grant was let down by all of us, not just the ABC.'

As Stan Grant presents what could be his last ever show on the ABC following racist attacks that intensified with the Coronation, many people are scrambling to shift blame. 

It was the nameless trolls on Twitter. 

No, it was the barrage of bigotry from tabloid media.

Watch: Stan Grant on racism in Australia. Story continues after video.

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Actually, the final straw was poor management by ABC executives. 

But even if all of the above are true, we’re all culpable, if we allow this vicious cycle to play on loop.

My last conversation with Stan was a few weeks ago when I was on Q+A

As a panelist, I was there to talk about submarines, refugees, cost of living and general politics, but I could sense Stan was frustrated and wanted to go off script.

It’s a lonely place, when you’re the ‘first' or the ‘only’ non-white person in a position of influence, as Stan is, sitting in the host’s chair. 


'People like you and I are still rare on our screens. And stories are still told by people who look like other people on the panel here tonight,’ Stan said to me.

Image: Supplied

I knew the moment I responded –  despite it being factually accurate and a clearly visible problem – I would be targeted and trolled for talking about structural racism in a country that is so good at lying to itself about being the ‘most successful multicultural nation in the world’.

We were both attacked as a result of our short exchange – in which Stan also brought attention to the almost all-white management at the ABC. 

From hate blogs, to tabloid press coverage right through to venomous tweets – Stan was called things too heinous to repeat and I was threatened and told to 'go back to the Middle East'.


Why am I sharing this? This is just a tiny sample of the sorts of attacks Stan is subjected to. The ferocity and intensity only increased over the next few weeks. It’s also crucial to point out the most abominable treatment is always reserved for First Nations people in the public eye. 

And sadly, this is not an accident, but rather, it’s by design.

If you’re not white, you are allowed to thrive and succeed – to a point –  but there are unspoken rules to ensure people of colour stay in their lane. 

Like Adam Goodes – you can play AFL, be recognised for your sporting prowess and heck even become Australian of the Year. But don’t you dare try and call out racism or advocate for racial equality. That will get you booed off the field and away from public life. 

Stan was asked to be part of the ABC’s well-planned Coronation coverage, and he was deservedly there to bring a First Nations perspective to the monarchy, its relevance today, and its brutal impacts on his community. 

The backlash came thick and fast. From complaints to the broadcaster, vitriolic social media posts and tabloid media attacks, they wanted to silence Stan from discussing uncomfortable truths about Australia.

It’s when the going gets tough that institutions like sport and media display who and what they are.


As Stan highlighted during our chat on Q+A, the decision-makers at the ABC are almost exclusively white. In moments like this, their paper-thin commitment to diversity, let alone inclusion, is displayed.

If the greatest footballer and one of the most accomplished journalists aren’t safe at work – and if their white peers don’t stand up for them until they are broken and have departed – what message does this send? 

It’s a pretty terrifying one: First Nations and other people of colour have a place and can succeed to a point, but not if you dare advocate for a better, fairer Australia. 

It’s not an accident or a coincidence that in the media, the justice system, politics, and sport – the decision-makers and gatekeepers look like the White Australia Policy was never scrapped.

So yes, our institutions fail First Nations and other people of colour but so do the employees, the audience and even the fans in the footy stadiums who look away uncomfortably when racist bullying triumphs. Only to speak out years later, voicing ‘regret’ for not doing or saying more. 

Every time we choose to be quiet rather than call out and challenge racism and injustice, we are complicit. 

Every time we accept new board and management announcements at places like the ABC or AFL – where there is not a single person of colour at the table – we can’t be shocked or disappointed when these institutions spit out their latest victim. 


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Every time we accept the familiar redemption routine – a belated apology, an investigation, and then a commitment to “do better” – without any structural change, we are choosing to accept lip service.

I get it, it’s easier to stay silent, and not stick your neck out. No one enjoys being punished at work or targeted online. But talking about the need for equality is tireless and thankless work. We can’t just expect Stan, or Adam Goodes or any other individual to shoulder the load alone. 

The change that is needed is clear and well-documented. Unless these institutions reflect and include all of us – from top down – they’re incapable of progress. 

And perhaps, this is exactly what these institutions want. To remain exactly as they are.

Antoinette Lattouf is a broadcaster, columnist, TEDx speaker, the author of ‘How to Lose Friends and Influence White People’, and the co-founder of Media Diversity Australia (MDA). Stan Grant is an advisory board member of MDA.

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