This week, we also published our deepest look yet at Indigenous Australia, through the eyes of a New York Times reporter who usually covers race in the United States.
John Eligon, who I worked with closely before I came to Australia, spent nearly a month traveling all over Australia and the Torres Strait Islands, visiting a wide variety of Indigenous communities.
“I heard stories of frustration and anger, resistance and resilience,” he says. “What I saw was a complex reality for Australia’s First Nations people.”
You can see the full scope of his reporting in the 60-minute documentary we produced in partnership with “Foreign Correspondent” on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and in his New York Times article profiling three young Indigenous Australians battling stereotypes in their own ways: Zeritta Jessel, pictured above, in Western Australia; Bobby Salee, a young man who found autonomy on Murray Island; and Nakkiah Lui, the well-known playwright, in Sydney.
What’s striking to anyone who watches or reads what John produced is the degree to which he was able to get these people and others to open up about their lives. He drew out heartfelt stories about suicide and discrimination but also moments of pride, expertise and humor. Even in outtakes from the project that we’ve been sharing, such as this interview above with Ms. Lui, there’s an authenticity and candor that illuminates the lived experience of race.
In the end, we hope, it all amounts to a nuanced portrait of a community that made clear to John that there is more symbolism than substance in the way that Australia interacts with its colonial legacy. Just about everyone John talked to emphasized that more work needs to be done in Australia, not just in terms of policy, but also in terms of personal interaction and prejudice.
“It’s that low hum of racism that people deal with every day,” said Stan Grant, the ABC’s most prominent Aboriginal journalist, in an interview with John. “It’s not that, you know, this is necessarily going to ruin someone’s life. But it makes you defensive. And it reinforces the message that, if you’re Aboriginal, you’ll be seen differently or be treated differently.”
Tell us what you thought of the project at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a subscriber, join us in our Facebook group for additional discussion about the world — and share this newsletter if you like what we’re up to.
Now for my weekly New York Times roundup, including a new daily feature for Australians that we’re calling The Breakdown, and instead of my own recommendation this week, I’m asking you: Where should I go and who should I meet in Byron Bay and in and around Brisbane? I’ll be there next week.
Introducing The Breakdown
This week we introduce a new feature aimed directly at Australian readers: The Breakdown. Each weekday, we’ll select a few news stories from Australia and try to cover them with a more contextual, Timesian approach. This week, we’ve looked at David H. Petraeus calling for Australian military intervention to fight the Islamic State in Asia; we’ve drawn comparisons to other countries after the Australian census data was released; and tackled men’s rights activists and trolling. This is very much an experiment, and we’ll play with length, tone, story selection and visuals, so chime in with feedback at email@example.com or in the Facebook group.
Trump vs. The F.B.I.
Tim Weiner has covered the American intelligence community for decades, as a New York Times reporter and the author of several best-selling books. That alone makes his magazine piece on how President Trump misunderstood the F.B.I. an essential read. While you’re at it, check out Gail Collins and Bret Stephens in conversation about the meaning of government, because Gail makes every conversation she’s in wittier and smarter.
Canada, Canada, Canada
Make sure you wish your Canadian friends a happy birthday this week; the land of maple leafs just turned 150. And as part of our expanded coverage there, we have a rich, meaningful look at a variety of family histories, along with a smart take from our friends at The Interpreter on why Canada has managed to resist the wave of populism raging through other parts of the world.
Hot Dog, Anyone?
O.K., if we did an Australian version of this taste test for hot dogs, what would it be? Our audience editor, Tacey Rychter, asked that question in our subscriber Facebook group this week, and the responses were savory and amazing. I just love the fact that The New York Times is a place that tackles the high and the low of our daily lives and cultures with such amazing rigor.
… And You Recommend
I’ll be in Byron Bay for a few days off next week, then doing a small road trip in and around Brisbane. I have a few ideas for stories to explore, but am open to suggestions. If you live in the area, who are the characters with stories to tell that are not being told? What are the conflicts that need exploring? And, of course, where can I find the best coffee? You know how to find me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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