Australia

Aboriginal mum posts daughter's 'whiteface' photos

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Media captionAn Aboriginal mother has shared photos of her daughter with her face painted white for a school costume

An Indigenous Australian mother has posted photos of her daughter dressed in "whiteface" in response to a debate over "blackface".

Last week a young boy in Perth attended a school event with his skin painted black in tribute to his idol, Australian Rules player Nic Naitanui.

The incident sparked furious discussion on social media.

Bec Bee, who is of Aboriginal descent, said there were "double standards" inflaming racial debates in Australia.

"I didn't see blackface," she told the BBC. "I saw a young fella who was proud to emulate his idol. There was no intent of racism."

The mother-of-two from Far North Queensland shared a photo on Facebook showing her daughter dressed as a Dr Seuss character in a red wig and white face paint for a similar school event three years ago.

"Not once did anyone say anything when I painted my black daughter white 3 years ago. We need to stop the double standards, a hero is a hero!" Ms Bee wrote.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A photo of a young boy dressed as AFL star Nic Naitanui

'Innocent'

She suggested the boy would likely be scarred by the controversy surrounding his innocent admiration for a sports star.

Ms Bee said: "I showed my daughter the article about the young boy… She said 'I'm proud that he wants to be the same colour as me'."

She said she did not believe the Western Australian mother at the centre of the debate had any intention of offending people.

"If this little boy and his mum had been mocking Indigenous culture then I can totally see how this is offensive," she said.

But some on social media disagreed with Ms Bee, saying the two photos were not comparable due to the historical usage of blackface to mock people of colour.

"Just because it doesn't offend you, doesn't mean it's not offensive," said Facebook user Aliera French.

The mother of the child who dressed in blackface last week said her son regarded Mr Naitanui as his idol and he wanted to dress up as him for Book Week.

Mr Naitanui, who is of Fijian heritage, said on Twitter that he did not believe there was any intentional offence but said the mother should "reflect and choose an alternate method next time".

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