Today co-host: ‘He called me the n-word’
BROOKE Boney had been in her new gig at the Today show for just a few days when she looked down the barrel of the camera and delivered a message to make Australia take notice.
It was after a segment from tennis legend Pat Cash on his Australia Day "awakening", that she felt compelled to say what the day meant to her.
"I'm a Gamilaroi woman, my family is from northern NSW, been there for about 60,000 years or so," she said.
"This date, I know it comes up every year and I'm not trying to tell everyone else what they should be doing … But I can't separate the 26th of January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school.
"Or that my little sisters and my mum are more likely to be beaten and raped than anyone else's sisters or mum. And that started from that day."
Recirculated footage of the powerful on-air moment soon went viral after it broadcast in January. And now, the entertainment reporter has revealed why she said what she said and has opened up about her shocking experience with racism.
Growing up the eldest of six children in housing commission in Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Boney told The Sydney Morning Herald a boy at school called her the "n-word and slammed (her) against a wall".
"Which is funny, right, because I'm the most caramel-coloured Aboriginal person you'd ever meet," she told the newspaper.
"I remember the principal telling me, 'Look, we know this guy is a troublemaker, but would you mind just dropping it.' And that's what I did."
"I don't think they were being malicious or anything; the school just really didn't know how to deal with it. It was easier to pretend it didn't happen."
That moment inspired her to stick through her schooling, head to university and make a career in journalism, specifically so she could add her voice to the conversation.
She said her career path was chosen because of the racism she encountered earlier in her life.
Boney, who joined the Today show following Karl Stefanovic's messy departure, copped abuse for her views about Australia Day, but she was also inundated with support.
She explained that her message wouldn't have been controversial with audiences she addressed during her stints on Koori Radio, NITV and Triple J, but because she said it on the Today show, it reached people who hadn't considered opinions like hers before.
That was why she was compelled to deliver such a powerful message on the Today show, just days into her new job.
"If I can contribute to that conversation in any way, that's my goal," she told the Herald. "That's why I wanted to be a journalist, that's why I've worked so hard to get to this position. To have that conversation happen in my first week on the show, I just felt like this is why I'm doing it."