Sharon Johal, Neighbours actor, latest to allege racism on set of TV show


Another actor has made accusations about racism on the set of Neighbours, saying the set of the long-running soap opera needs to be overhauled to make it a safe workplace for all cast and crew.

In a lengthy statement on her website, Sharon Johal, who played Dipi Rebecchi on the show, said she experienced “direct, indirect and casual racism” in her four years on the set.

She outlined several such instances, including a fellow cast member referring to “you people” when discussing people of Indian origin, and she said management failed to take her complaints seriously.

She is not the first Neighbours actor to go public with accusations of racism in recent days.

Last week, Indigenous actor Shareena Clanton said she twice heard the N-word used on set, one of “multiple racist traumas” she said she endured on “this highly problematic show”.

She was followed by Indigenous actor Meyne Wyatt.

“On more than one occasion a current cast member,” not a person of colour, “directly referred to me as ‘you people’ when speaking in derogatory terms about an altercation they were involved in with an Indian person,” Johal said in her statement, which was first reported by Guardian Australia.

Johal said she had been told that the same cast member has also claimed “the show only employs ‘Indian actors” and diverse actors of colour to “fill their diversity quotas” and “not because they are any good”.

When she raised these comments with management, she said, they were sympathetic and spoke to the cast member but “no action was taken”.

“Management’s position was that I needed to speak to management directly at the time each of these incidents occurred,” she said.

“This practice does not take into consideration the reticence of a victim to come forward in a workplace culture where perpetrators are not seen to be held accountable (so why report?), and where the person reporting is afraid of being further targeted by the perpetrator and in fear of losing their job.”

In another instance, a former cast member compared her to a bobble-head toy, saying, “Oh, it’s like you guys”, referring to Indians.

“The same cast member repeatedly mimicked the Indian character Apu from The Simpsons with accompanying Indian accent and movement of head in my presence, despite me requesting they desist.”

Fremantle, the production company behind Neighbours, said: “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees on the set of Neighbours and take very seriously any questions about racism or any other form of discrimination.

“We are engaging an independent legal investigation to work concurrently with [Indigenous consultancy] Campfire X’s cultural review and hope to work directly with the individuals that have raised concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps are appropriate.”

Network Ten, which airs the show, provided the same statement in response to a request for comment.

Johal said the fast-paced nature of production on the set had created a culture in which issues were overlooked in favour of getting on with the job.

Management then mishandled disputes it was not qualified to address, she said, leaving her “powerless, isolated and marginalised”.

She commended Fremantle for initiating an investigation, but said it must be broad in scope, arguing it was clear management’s systems had failed.

“Racism is part of a wider issue and conversation.

“It’s both heartbreaking and telling of our industry that a show considered diverse on screen still struggles with protecting people these behind the scenes.”

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Academics ‘accusing each other of racism’ means lefties are devouring ‘their own’


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Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton faces online abuse after alleging racism on Neighbours set


Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton has been subjected to a torrent of online abuse after detailing allegations of racism while working for the soap hit Neighbours.

WARNING: The following story contains content that some readers may find distressing.

Clanton said calling out the issues she encountered had resulted in a backlash that further highlighted racist attitudes across Australia.

“I stand by my truth and what I said I bore witness to and directly endured,” she said.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Clanton said “overt and covert levels of racism were rife” during her months working on the TV show.

The actor, known for her role in the award-winning prison drama Wentworth, said she felt “ostracised and further marginalised” after calling out the behaviour to human resources staff.

Clanton, a Wongatha,Yamatji, Noongar and Gitja woman, said it had been “lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe place”.

In a follow-up post on Instagram today, Clanton showed abusive comments she had received since going public with her concerns.

“What a token career she had — she can kiss goodbye,” said one post.

Another post said “never hire brown people”.

A third comment called Clanton a “whiner”.

Clanton said the on-set behaviour she described in her earlier post happened and she had documentation to back it up.

“I didn’t even post some of the more triggering/traumatising/vile comments I saw … aimed at me,” she said on Instagram today.

“One [in] particular said ‘This is why you don’t employ Aboriginal people, all they do is whinge’.”

Clanton said she had no qualms about criticising power structures like Fremantle Media, the production company behind the program, saying it had expressed no remorse and had taken no action on her complaints.

“What do I have to gain here by speaking the truth to one of the most powerful and multi-million dollar global production houses like Fremantle Media,” she asked.

“I’m the one at risk of being blacklisted.”

In an interview with the ABC, Clanton said she had to “protect her peace” after copping the waves of abuse online.

She said she understood the backlash given Neighbours was such an iconic show, but had endured it by “grounding myself in truth, being gentle and to remind myself that I’m doing the right thing”.

“Let’s start with basic respect – I wouldn’t speak to you like that,” she said.

“This is bigger than one individual situation, or situations and experiences, and despite the events being incredibly traumatic and stressful, it’s important that we continue to be bold and courageous and speak up about it.”

Clanton added that she had received a call from the chief executive of Fremantle Media, who told her the production company would investigate her claims.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Fremantle Media said the company would conduct an “independent cultural review” of Neighbours.

A spokesperson for Fremantle Media said on Tuesday the company had held “significant and lengthy discussions” with Clanton during her time on the show.

“Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process,” the spokesperson said.

Meyne Wyatt, a Wongutha-Yamatji actor and director who worked on Neighbours between 2014 and 2016, said he had also experienced racism on the set.

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Rangers: Ondrej Kudela suspended as Uefa examines racism allegation


A comment from Ondrej Kudela sparked an onfield melee late in the game at Ibrox

The one-match ban issued to Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela “does little to instil confidence” in Uefa’s approach to eradicating racism, says Rangers player Glen Kamara’s lawyer.

Kudela, 34, denies Kamara’s claim he racially abused him during Slavia’s 2-0 Europa League win at Ibrox on 18 March.

The Czech has been given a provisional suspension for insulting an opponent while Uefa investigate the allegation.

If found guilty of racism, he could face a 10-match ban.

Uefa says it is also investigating Kamara’s behaviour. Slavia claim Kudela was assaulted in the tunnel after the match in Glasgow.

Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar released a statement on the Finnish midfielder’s behalf, saying Kudela’s suspension “smacks of ‘tokenism’ and gives little confidence to black players who face such vile abuse”.

It added: “Uefa have carried out an initial investigation which makes damning reading about Kudela’s conduct. This initial one-match ban does little to instil confidence in Uefa being serious about stamping out racism in football and they must take robust action going forward.

“The defence put forward by Slavia Prague can only be described as incredible or fantasy.”

Police Scotland are also looking into separate allegations of racial abuse and a reported assault.

Kudela will miss Thursday’s quarter-final first-leg meeting with Arsenal. However, he was expected to be absent for the game in London anyway, owing to an injury sustained against Wales on duty with the Czech Republic.

A statement from Uefa concludes that more information “will be made available once the CEDB [Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body] has taken a decision in due course”.

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Neighbours star Shareena Clanton’s shocking racism allegations against cast and crew


Neighbours star Shareena Clanton says she endured “multiple racist traumas” on the set of the iconic Channel 10 show, including the “N-word” being used several times by other actors.

Wongatha, Yamatji and Noongar, Gitja woman Clanton shared a lengthy post on Instagram today revealing she has sought counselling following her time on the “highly problematic” show.

Clanton, who did not list any names in her post, said she approached the HR department following several incidents involving fellow cast members, but little action was taken.

She explains she was instead “ostracised and further marginalised” for calling out her colleagues.

“Struggling to post anything positive about the months I endured on @neighbours after multiple racist traumas and navigating ongoing counselling from this highly problematic show. It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space,” she began.

RELATED: Star’s ‘terrible’ Hey, Hey humiliation

The Wentworth star went on to list in dot-point form seven incidents which occurred during filming.

“(Someone) thought it funny and appropriate to openly laugh at the word ‘cum sl*t’ by a cast member who loudly spoke about ‘cum’, ‘cum’, ‘cum’ in front of other cast and crew,” she wrote.

She also shared than upon requesting a Wurundjeri Elder to be present on set to ensure “ongoing cultural safety”, she was told Channel 10’s budget would not cover it, so paid out of her own pocket.

“Due to my insistence of engaging a Wurundjeri Elder to be included for ongoing cultural safety reasons like cultural protocols followed and debriefing, I was told ‘this is not a film production, Shareena’. and that ‘we simply don’t have the budget’. The humble few hundred dollars a week Aunty and I proposed was in contrast to the thousands of dollars actors were receiving each pay. I paid Aunty directly out of my own income to make up for this ‘lack of budget’,” she wrote.

Clanton continued:

“-A senior staff member openly laughed whilst using the term ‘slave driver’ in reference to him ‘working hard’. My management at the time didn’t help as they endorsed/encouraged this ‘office banter’. I fired the agent.

-Overt and covert levels of racism were rife, often disguised as ‘jokes’ like a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a ‘lil’ monkey’.

-Twice I endured the ‘N’-word openly being used on-set and in the green room. I was even told to ‘go somewhere else’ by staff when confronting the actor directly because I was making others ‘uncomfortable’.

-A white actress openly laughed at the racist ‘N’-word to only lie about laughing about it when questioned by HR. She said that I ‘misconstrued’ what she was ‘laughing at’ and that she was laughing at ‘something else’. That is a blatant lie.

-The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracised and further marginalised. In what was meant to have HR follow up and discuss this led to them saying they were unsure of ‘what else they could do’.”

She concluded her post by adding: “I’ll never work for this show again.”

The statement has garnered more than 1400 likes as of Tuesday morning, with a number of followers thanking Clanton for her courage.

Clanton will portray a character named Sheila in upcoming episodes of Neighbours, according to Digital Spy.

Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson from Fremantle told news.com.au: “Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen. Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process.

“Shareena’s involvement in the creative process and on set was invaluable and hugely educational and will benefit the series moving forward. There have been significant and lengthy discussions with Shareena during her time on Neighbours and we will continue to work with all cast and crew to ensure Neighbours continues to be a fully inclusive environment.”

The network’s former Drama Executive, Dan Bennett, also told TV Blackbox: “I know and respect the people at #Neighbours (not all, obviously, but many). I’m finding this story hard to reconcile. But I am BEYOND convinced it will be investigated to the fullest, and that every and all appropriate actions taken.”

Clanton’s allegations are not the first instances of racism linked to the long-running series.

In February, actress Sharon Johal, who has played Dipi Rebecchi for four years, wrote a piece for Stellar Magazine in which she claimed fans of the television program would yell racist insults to her on the street.

In it, she praised the program for its diversity but added that she “couldn’t escape” racism even on Ramsay Street.

“When I arrived on Neighbours, albeit feeling like an impostor, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a young female producer in charge and an Asian actor on set who formed one half of a gay couple. Diversity at last!,” she wrote.

“Despite these positive developments, I came to understand that I couldn’t escape racism, not even on Australia’s most famous street.

I’m incessantly trolled on social media and sometimes even in public, with people saying things like “go back to your country” and “you and your filthy children need to leave Ramsay Street”,” she wrote.





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Black senior adviser quits UK government in wake of racism report


The most senior black adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned, the day after a report on racial disparities concluded that Britain does not have a systemic problem with racism.

Samuel Kasumu will leave his job as a special adviser for civil society and communities next month.

The Prime Minister’s office said Mr Kasumu’s departure had “been his plan for several months”.

Downing Street denied the resignation was related to Wednesday’s publication of a report by the government-appointed Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which concluded that Britain is not a systemically racist country.

But Simon Woolley, a former government equalities adviser and a member of the UK House of Lords, said Mr Kasumu’s exit was connected to the “grubby” and “divisive” report.

He said there was a “crisis at Number 10 when it comes to acknowledging and dealing with persistent race inequality”.

Mr Kasumu considered quitting in February.

He wrote a resignation letter, obtained by the BBC, that accused Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party of pursuing “a politics steeped in division.” He was persuaded to stay in his job temporarily.

Report finds UK not ‘institutionally racist’ or ‘rigged’ 

The Conservative government launched the commission’s inquiry into racial disparities in the wake of anti-racism protests last year.

The panel of experts concluded that while “outright racism” exists in Britain, the country is not “institutionally racist” or “rigged” against ethnic minorities.

Citing strides to close gaps between ethnic groups in educational and economic achievement, the report said race was becoming “less important” as a factor in creating disparities that also are fuelled by class and family backgrounds.

Many anti-racism activists were sceptical of the findings, saying the commission ignored barriers to equality.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted racial fault lines, with Britons from Black African and Black Caribbean backgrounds dying from COVID-19 at more than twice the rate as their white compatriots.

Black people in Britain are three times as likely as white people to be arrested and twice as likely to die in police custody.

A crowd lowers a statue into a harbour
Demonstrators tipped a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol’s harbour during Black Lives Matter protests last year.(

AP: Ben Birchall/PA

)

Like other countries, Britain has faced an uncomfortable reckoning with race since the death of George Floyd, a Black American, at the knee of a US policeman in May 2020 sparked anti-racism protests around the world.

Large crowds at Black Lives Matter protests across the UK last summer called on the government and institutions to face up to the legacy of the British Empire and the country’s extensive profits from the slave trade.

The toppling of a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston in the city of Bristol in June prompted a pointed debate about how to deal with Britain’s past.

Many felt such statues extol racism and are an affront to Black Britons.

Others, including the Prime Minister, argued that removing them was erasing a piece of history.

AP

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Indigenous patients anonymously report racism in health care with new online tool


SASKATOON —
Hundreds of Indigenous patients in B.C. have been using a new online tool to anonymously report the racism they’ve experienced within the health-care system. The initial demand for the tool has been so high that creators are aiming to expand the platform across the country next year.

The platform Safespace, currently run through the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres website, allows people to share their experiences at a health-care facility and rate it on a five-point scale.

“I’ve experienced racism personally in the health system. I’ve observed it. I’ve been there with family members… who’ve gone through the same situations,” Canadian Medical Association president-elect Dr. Alika Lafontaine, who created the tool, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Since the app launched in November, it has recorded approximately 1,500 complaints and stories from Indigenous patients and their family members.

A lot of people “didn’t feel safe sharing them with the health system,” Lafontaine said, adding that those who did report incidents were ultimately disappointed with how things ended up.

This discontent could be because a health-care provider wasn’t disciplined or because there wasn’t any change in a facility’s methods overall. And Lafontaine explained that for many patients, complaining publicly has only served to strain their relationships with their doctors, leaving them in “worse place than if they’d said nothing at all.”

The app was launched on the heels of an investigative report released in November 2020, which found troubling, widespread racism against Indigenous patients in the B.C. health-care system. Another report in the province found Indigenous people also have less access to primary care doctors, less access to primary care providers for seniors and lower rates of cancer screening than non-Indigenous people.

Similar disparities are being seen across Canada, highlighted by high-profile incidents such as the case of Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman in Quebec who recorded herself being insulted by health-care workers before she later died.

B.C. FRIENDSHIP CENTRES ARE EARLY PARTNERS

Lafontaine, an Alberta-based anesthesiologist of Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander descent, said the idea was partially sparked by his brother and Safespace co-founder who was subjected to racism.

“He said, ‘it doesn’t matter what type of privilege I accumulate — whether I’m a business leader or highly educated, or contribute to the community –when I put on that [hospital] gown, I’m just another Indian.”

Lafontaine chose to partner with the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres for the first phase of Safespace rollout because those centres are places people already trust when it comes to patient advocacy and emotional and social support.

The group has 25 facilities across British Columbia and during the first half of this year, workers will be offering workshops to help familiarize the community with the Safespace tool.

Leslie Varley, executive director at the BCAAFC and member of the Nisga’a Nation, told CTVNews.ca over the phone that “to one extent or another, we all experience racism.” She said this can involve health-care providers in emergency rooms falsely assuming patients are drunk or them being disregarded or roughly treated during hospice care.

Without collecting personalized data, Safespace anonymously catalogues incidents to flag potential issues in the future, and identify patterns or prevalent issues in certain facilities or across the province — and lobby them to change.

“Our hope and intention is… to take that data and use it very specifically at one hospital or clinic, or health-care clinic or [address] systemic racism overall,” Varley said, adding she encourages health-care providers themselves to report things they witness, since they might not do so out of fear of putting their job at stake.

Varley said a lot of the complaints so far are from Indigenous doctors and health-care workers who say “they’re not feeling safe at all.”

Next year, she said the National Association of Friendship Centres, which boasts a network of more than 120 facilities, will be further expanding the program.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine

APP HELPS PATIENTS MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS

Lafontaine said one of the short-term goals will be to “help patients to make more informed decisions about where they access care.”

“For example, if they realize racialization is an issue within emergency departments in and around a certain place in B.C., they can choose to move to a different place of care or if they have to go there… they can at least go and be prepared.”

But he said this data should force health-care providers to look inwards.

Lafontaine explained doctors, nurses or other health-care providers may have inadvertently learned racist ideas in school, which have been reinforced in the field. “But once you become aware of the harm you do have a responsibility to stop it.”

“We can create that normalcy of being an anti-racist… where we have to go to create change in the system but that’s going to take stories,” he said, hoping that the app helps in “creating the opportunity of a new narrative in health care.”

Lafontaine hopes Safespace prevents people from feeling alone and baring the “the weight of history on their shoulders.”



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Waleed Aly responds to outrage surrounding AFL star’s racism claims interview


Waleed Aly has dug in deeper surrounding the controversial interview with former AFL star Heritier Lumumba — still refusing to apologise for the deleted video.

The Project host on Sunday revealed he will not apologise for the interview he conducted with Lumumba in 2017, before his football club, Collingwood, concluded from an internal investigation the club was guilty of fostering “systemic racism”.

The report was instigated after Lumumba made claims about enduring a “culture of racist jokes” and being nicknamed “Chimp” while playing for the Magpies between 2005-2014.

Aly interviewed Lumumba four years ago, during which he discussed the player’s alleged nickname, with viewers saying he appeared to cast doubt on the ex-player’s claims.

RELATED: ‘Chimp’ nickname exposed in old magazine

Footage of the controversial 2017 interview resurfaced in February after Collingwood’s bombshell “Do Better” report was released.

Former club president Eddie McGuire famously described the release of the report as a “proud day” for the club. He was forced to resign in the days that followed.

During the interview, Aly questioned why there weren’t many other players who had come forward and corroborated his claims about being called “Chimp”. Co-host Peter Helliar also questioned Lumumba’s claims and integrity.

Helliar has since made a public, unreserved apology on Twitter for his actions in the deleted interview.

Aly — and Network 10 — have refused to apologise.

The 42-year-old is still refusing to back away the interview — and stands by his scepticism.

“No, I don’t regret the interview at all,” Aly told The Daily Telegraph.

“I was approached to do the interview by his team, we did it. I asked the questions I think had to be asked in the circumstances it was for him to answer. I think that it’s been part of the process that has led us to this point.

“I think he’s entirely justified to feel vindicated by (the findings).”

Aamer Rahman, a friend Lumumba’s, led the criticism of Aly earlier this year when he said the popular host played a part in “discrediting” Lumumba.

“The questions were bizarre. For example, if Heritier was telling the truth, why wouldn’t more players admit to a culture of racism at the club? Imagine staking a victim’s credibility on why none of their abusers had publicly admitted to their behaviour,” Rahman wrote on Twitter in June last year.

He claimed the hour-and-a-half interview “brought Heritier to tears”, before slamming the interview was “unethical and dishonest”.

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Asian-American bares his military scars to make an emotional point about racism in the US



An Asian-American veteran has used the scars from his military service to make an emotional point about deteriorating race relations in the United States.

Lee Wong, the 69-year-old chair of the West Chester Board of Trustees in Ohio, moved to the US when he was 18.

The spontaneous act at the town hall meeting resulted from what he described as decades of racial abuse, including being bashed by someone for being of Asian descent.

The meeting came days after a string of shootings in spa parlours across Atlanta, leaving eight people dead – including six women of Asian backgrounds.

A report by the UN has flagged more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian-Americans in the US over an eight-week period in 2020.

The attacks included physical assaults, vandalism, verbal harassment and denial of services.

The findings also contain reports of Asian-American women being harassed more than twice as much as men. More than a quarter of verbal attacks made references to China, including many instances of Asian-Americans being told to go back to China.

Recent attacks against Asian-Americans have in-part been fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and talk of the “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan virus” or the “Kung flu” by former president Donald Trump.

In an apparent rebuke of Mr Trump’s characterisation of the coronavirus crisis, President Joe Biden urged Americans to “combat the resurgence of xenophobia” following the Atlanta murders.

Mr Wong said the recent events spurred him to speak out and show his scars from the military service.

“People questioned my patriotism,” Mr Wong told the meeting on 23 March, before showing the scars on his chest.

“Now is this patriot enough? I’m not ashamed to walk around anymore. Before, I felt inhibited, people looked at me strange.”

Earlier in March, a survey by the Lowy Institute found more than a third of Chinese Australians reported facing discrimination in 2020.

Almost one-in-five Chinese Australians have also reported having been physically threatened or attacked in the past year.

The Lowy Institute and UN reports both affirm these COVID-related attacks can be traced back to pre-existing prejudices.

“Prejudice is hate,” Mr Wong said, “and that hate can be changed. We are human and we need to be kinder, gentler to one another, because we are all the same.”

The town hall video has received an overwhelmingly positive response on Twitter from broadcasters and media commentators.

The hashtag #StopAsianHate has also gone viral following a wave of rallies in support of the Asian community, with federal politicians posting their tributes to the victims of the Atlanta shooting.



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'We need to address much deeper issues' about racism – England boss Gareth Southgate



Gareth Southgate says the England squad will continue to have talks about taking the knee and need to also address “the much deeper issues” about racism.

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