Too strong for racism as Australians support Wergaia family

A viral video of a racist attack this week has inspired memes, merchandise and a move from McDonald’s Australia demonstrating their zero-tolerance stance on racism.

Posted on December 14 by Kira Djnalie on their Twitter account, footage filmed by respected Wergaia artist Robby Wirramanda-Knight, showed his neighbours Mildura and Irymple McDonald’s owner Rob Vigors and wife Karen Ridge spewing a racist tirade at Wirramanda-Knight on Friday night, December 13.

The couple questioned the fair skinned Wergaia man’s Aboriginality, with Mr Vigors asking him “which one percent” of him was Aboriginal.

Mr Vigors continued his racist rant, saying people like Mr Wirramanda-Knight “make a mockery of true Aboriginals.”

During the spat, Ms Ridge tried to rip down the family’s Aboriginal flag hanging from their property.

“It’s too strong for you, Karen!” Mr Wirramanda-Knight shouted in the video, as she struggled to dismantle the flag and eventually gave up.

Although seconds earlier staunch in her position Mr Wirramanda-Knight wasn’t Indigenous, Ms Ridge was irate at being defeated by a well-fastened flag.

“Go and live in your fucking humpy down the river,” Ms Ridge said as she stormed off with her husband.

Inspiring the hashtag that has trended for most of this week, #TooStrongForYouKaren has united Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across social media in calling out racism.

McDonald’s Australia acted quickly, firing Mr Vigors from their Mildura and Irymple restaurants within 24 hours of the racist attack.

“McDonald’s confirms the company has taken over the operation of the Mildura and Irymple restaurants, effective immediately, and Robert Vigors has left the system and is no longer involved,” said a statement from the fast-food chain.

Mob from across Australia have mobilised behind the Wirramanda-Knight family, with many sharing their support and well-wishes across social media.

Victorian fashion brand Clothing the Gap voiced their concern at people having to justify their Aboriginality, revamping conversation around the campaign they launched earlier in the year, #ShadesOfDeadly.

The brand shared photos of Indigenous Australians brandishing signs with the hashtag, #ShadesOfDeadly, and encouraged others to do the same.

In conjunction with the news of the Wirramanda-Knight family, the campaign has this week seen well-known Indigenous figures participate such as Noongar Yamatji youth social worker Brooke Blurton and Kamilaroi sisters Marlee and Keely Silva behind popular podcast and movement, Tiddas 4 Tiddas.

“#ShadesOfDeadly is about celebrating mob all colours of deadly. Aboriginality is deeper than colour, it’s connection to land, to people and community,” said Clothing the Gap in a post on their Facebook page.

In response to the strong support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike, the Wirramanda-Knight family released a statement via Djnalie’s Twitter account on Tuesday.

“As you are probably aware our family have been dealing with a lot lately,” the statement read.

“Your support during this difficult time is appreciated and we thank you.”

By Hannah Cross

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