“I tried to scrub the brown out of my skin,”- Aussie TV Star

By Aroha Awarau
  • Australia

Acclaimed Australian broadcaster Stan Grant has revealed his struggle to embrace his Aborginal culture and admits as a child he tried to scrub the brown out of his skin. 

The 54-year-old told Native Affairs on Māori Television that growing up in Australia, he was made to feel ashamed of being Aboriginal and was often described as dirty and lazy at school.

“For a young boy that’s terribly confronting.  I remember sitting in the bathtub and scrubbing my skin.  My mother came in and saw me with this brush just rubbing and rubbing my skin. And I said – ‘Mum I’m trying to wash the brown off my skin.’ That must be terrible for her to hear, her son thinking he doesn’t belong in the world.”

Grant says his cultural shame and high pressure job contributed to a lifelong battle with depression.

“I felt terrible anxiety and depression, particularly after I’d spent a lot of years reporting.  I’ve seen disaster and death on a terrible scale.  I think a lot of that compounded the trauma that we experienced as indigenous peoples, living with the impact of conflict and colonisation in our own country.  I felt this emptiness.  This deep, deep sadness I’ve been carrying around all of my life.”

With a long-standing career as a journalist, Grant has been a news anchor and CNN correspondent. 

The father-of-four admits his struggle with depression is ongoing.  Counselling sessions and his love for writing is helping him overcome his demons.

“I’ve had to seek help and to be able to work through those things,” he says.   

The Logie award-winning broadcaster made world headlines last year when he delivered a fiery speech that went viral.  He said the Australian dream is rooted in racism.  Today, he is the editor of Indigenious Affairs at the ABC network in Australia and writes regular columns about the struggles faced by indigenous Australians.

He admits he’s received critisim from his own community, calling him a coconut – a person who is white on the inside and brown on the outside.

“Oppressed people often turn on each other.  There’s scepticism sometimes about success-  you’re a sellout.  I don’t have to prove that I’m Aborigional to anybody.”

Grant visited Auckland this week as part of the Auckland Writer’s Festival.  He says he enjoys visiting New Zealand and is well aware of the struggles Māori face.

“You have a treaty, which is part of the history of your country.  In Australia we don’t have a treaty.  We have fought just for the recognition that we even exist.”

Grant is developing a play about his life which will be produced by the Sydney Theatre Company. When asked which actor he would like to play him, he responded, “I might do it myself.”