The New York Times has been slammed over a fkd obituary of legendary Indigenous actor, advocate and Elder Uncle Jack Charles, as well as a truly cooked tweet linking to it.
In the now-deleted tweet, The NYT referenced his experiences of addiction and said he had a “penchant for burglary”.
According to NITV, the obituary said Uncle Jack was a member of the “so-called” Stolen Generation, a reference which has since been deleted.
Shame on you @nytimesarts – this is a disgraceful framing of a much loved Elder. Disrespectful, racist & poor journalism.
— Prof Bronwyn Carlson (she/her) (@BronwynCarlson) September 21, 2022
You have got to be kidding? Uncle Jack was a National treasure, deeply respected for his capacity to contribute despite the most heinous of treatment as a Stolen Generations member. Absolutely appalling.
— Professor Nareen Young (@nareenyoung) September 22, 2022
You really woke up this morning and chose disrespect. Uncle Jack Charles was one of Australia’s leading actors and a pivotal voice in First Nations theatre, queer liberation and the stories and leadership of this land.
— Ruby Gill (she/her) (@rubymarygill) September 21, 2022
No, we are not doing this. He was a leading actor and activist. This isn’t presenting a complex person, it’s straight up racial profiling.
— Amy Gray (@_AmyGray_) September 21, 2022
At the time of writing, The New York Times hasn’t apologised for the, quite frankly, disgusting now-deleted tweet and references in the obituary.
Instead, after sustained backlash, it tweeted: “We deleted an earlier tweet to this story because it lacked proper context”.
As you might expect, The New York Times‘ pathetic correction attempt has been resoundingly slammed online.
Many Twitter users have called the OG tweet “racist” and demanded the publication issue a full apology.
Thank you for the update. I hope there’s a chance to reflect on the fact that the problem was not “context”, but an explicitly racist framing that called on horrific stereotypes about First Nations people
+ worth crediting the FN folks who called it outhttps://t.co/mrF3d1Bv8z
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) September 22, 2022
They’ve deleted the tweet and revised the obituary of Uncle Jack Charles without acknowledging how absolutely despicable @natashamfrost’s original piece was. There must be a meaningful apology for its blatantly hurtful and discriminatory effects. https://t.co/FC8XG0muRx
— සුනිලි (they/them) (@sunili) September 22, 2022
No, you framed him as a criminal and said the Stolen Generation was “so-called”. Genuinely just really bad journalism and cultural insensitivity that deserves an apology.
— pops (@lentilmumma) September 22, 2022
Words have power. The previous tweet didn’t lack proper context. It was damaging, hurtful, racist, and completely out of line. The NYT can apologise to the family of Uncle Jack Charles & to the broader Aboriginal community and undertake that this doesn’t happen again.
— Eileen Chong 张奕霖 (@eileenchongpoet) September 22, 2022
Can you issue a proper apology? This ain’t it.
— Rebecca (@BexualFeeling) September 22, 2022
Uncle Jack was a beloved Boon Wurrang, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man. Since his passing earlier in September, he has been remembered with far more fitting tributes for his immense legacy.
“Before he passed away, his family were able to send him off on Country during a smoking ceremony at the Royal Melbourne Hospital,” a statement from Uncle Jack’s publicist said at the time.
“We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life — Elder, actor, musician, potter, activist, mentor, a household name and voice loved by all — as is demonstrated by his numerous awards including this year’s NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year.”
It’s disgraceful to see a beloved Elder eulogised in such a despicable, reductionist manner. Rest in peace, Uncle Jack Charles.