Magda Szubański has defended herself after historic images of her in blackface resurfaced after she backed Indigenous netminder Donnell Wallam.
Wallam unwittingly became the face of a major sponsorship conflict between Netball Australia and mining giant Hancock Prospecting, which eventually led to the latter abandoning its $15 million contract with the team.
The netballer was uncomfortable wearing the Hancock logo on his Australian Diamonds team dress after former boss Lang Hancock infamously said in the 1980s that Indigenous Australians should be sterilized to “bring themselves out”.
Hancock Prospecting chief executive Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person and Lang’s daughter, ended her four-year contract with Netball Australia on Saturday after the controversy it sparked.
“Hancock and its executive chairman, Ms. Rinehart, believe that sports organizations do not need to be used for social or political purposes,” Hancock said in a statement.
“There are more focused and authentic ways to promote social or political causes without virtue signaling or self-promotion.”
But Szubanski showed her support for Wallam on Thursday and dismissed Mr Hancock’s past comments as going beyond “simple racism”.
“Lang Hancock went beyond simple racism. He proposed to STERILIZE the human race. So it’s not virtue signaling – it’s survival!” – the actor wrote on Twitter.
“Imagine being asked to wear his name on your back so you can get funding for your sport #IStandWithDonnellWallam.”
While the actress was largely supported for her position, others came to Ms. Hancock’s defense and pointed to an infamous incident from Shubansky’s past.
One Twitter user posted an image of Shubansky in blackface from a 25-year-old comedy skit.
“Maybe you should probably stay out of discussions about racism,” they said.
Shubansky defended herself and said she had apologized and self-educated in the years since the incident.
“Since then I have spent 25 years listening and learning. And I apologize,” she wrote.
Another Twitter user asked if the actor’s relatives should apologize for the skit, similar to how Mrs Rinehart was asked to apologize for her father’s comments.
“In 40 years your c̶h̶i̶l̶d̶r̶e̶n̶ relatives will be forced to apologize for your racism?” they asked.
“I did this work for them. See previous tweets,” replied Shubansky, referring to her previous tweet.
The actor also posted a link to a Huffington Post article covering her appearance on Sydney’s CityTalks where she discussed the incident.
“I was recently challenged by alt-right trolls who posted photos of me doing blackface 25 years ago. Even though they’re alternative trolls, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong,” she said in 2019.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with their comments. I have had to go through the process as someone who speaks about diversity, and I am also part of the challenge. What should we do with people like me?’
It comes after another comedy skit involving Shubanski also arose as part of a dispute between Hancock Prospecting and Netball Australia.
The clip was from Foxtel’s 2015 sketch series Open Slather and showed the actor playing a character named Gina Meinhart.
Shubansky stroked a piece of iron ore, limiting the famous saying “what’s yours is mine.”
“What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine,” she said.
“What is in the mine is mine, and what is not in the mine is also mine.”