In her Facebook post about the subject, Rita Pryce said that her daughter recently had her first job interview at a McDonald’s near the family’s Manoora home. Her daughter was interviewed by a “senior staff member,” but felt uncomfortable minutes into the interview, when the staff member interviewing her started to ask her questions like “Do you think you’re beautiful?” and “16 and still no job?”
The questioning became even more intense when the girl mentioned that she was a Torres Strait Islander, one of Australia’s indigenous communities. The staff member started interrogating her about where she came from and asked her if she knew what 2 + 2 equaled. She responded with the answer “Yep, it’s 4 in our country too!”. When the girl said that she was “bubbly” as part of an interview question, he interrupted her to say that “someone who is bubbly makes a lot of mistakes.” After the interview, the girl returned to her mother’s car, in tears and “scared.”
Pryce says that she attempted to make a complaint with the store, but was met with polite unconcern. When she asked the manager how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were employed there (given that the area has a high population of Torres Strait Islanders), she says that “he could not and did not answer.” She received a phone call saying that the McDonald’s had changed policy so that there would always be more than one person doing the interview, but that the interviewer was still working for the store.
Racism against Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Australians is still prevalent in Australia today. Research compiled by the Lowitja Institute suggests that Indigenous Australians have worse health outcomes, higher stress, and lower social and economic success than white Australians. And according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, black and Indigenous Australians face the highest levels of racial discrimination in the country.
At the end of last year, the Commission put out a new public awareness campaign called “Racism: It Stops With Me.” The videos, which shows everyday acts of racism against Indigenous and black Australians, are aimed at encouraging bystanders to stand up to racism. “This campaign is about empowering people to identify racism and to respond appropriately and safely,” Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said in a campaign video. “People can be more than just bystanders.”
To Pryce, the most infuriating part of the ordeal her daughter went through is that McDonald’s claims to be an equal opportunity employer. “On your website under your Vision and Values, you state: ‘We operate our business ethically,'” Pryce wrote on her Facebook post. “It also mentions that ‘McDonald’s is a signatory to the Corporate Leaders for Indigenous Employment Strategy and are working to provide increased and more effective training and employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.’” After her recent experience, Pryce doesn’t believe in the company’s commitment to anti-racist initiatives: “What a load of crap! Or should I say, what a load of burgers!!”
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