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Samantha Harris On Racism, Recognition And Respect

“It makes my blood boil that we don’t have a treaty with our Indigenous people. It’s been 250 years; it really is time”

The year 2020 marks 250 years since James Cook’s first voyage to Australia, yet today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still aren’t acknowledged in our constitution.

The time is now for recognition and reform, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

This February marie claire is joining forces with some of Australia’s biggest and brightest names to unite for change. Here, model Samantha Harris opens up about her own experiences with racism and what recognition would mean to her…

“I’m so proud to be a part of the oldest culture in the world and to have Aboriginal blood in my veins. My mum didn’t have the chance to be a proud Aboriginal woman. She was part of the Stolen Generation; it was so wrong. Mum dreamt of being a model herself but never had the opportunity.”

“When I first started out in the industry [15 years ago], there weren’t very many Aboriginal models. I’ve been told that I’m ‘pretty for an Aboriginal’ and received racist comments on social media. It’s sad. It feels like a step backwards, when we should be moving forwards.”

“I think we’re making progress towards diversity, though. I’ve had young girls tell me they were so proud to walk into a supermarket and see someone who looks like them on a magazine cover. I’m forever telling young Indigenous girls to follow their dreams and don’t listen to the haters. For me, constitutional recognition is so much more than a piece of paper. It makes my blood boil that we’re the only [major] Commonwealth country that doesn’t have a treaty with its Indigenous people. It’s been 250 years; it really is time. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.”


This article originally appeared in the February issue of marie claire Australia. 

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