There's a photo of me, one of the few school photos I have. I am seven years old, the darkest face in the class in 1970s white Australia.
I look scared. I'm not smiling. My hands are clasped tight. My uniform doesn't match. Unlike the other boys I have no tie. There's a stain on my second-hand jumper.
I look for the world like I don't belong.
I don't know that I have ever changed from that boy. These past weeks I have been taken right back there.
Since the King's coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia.
Nothing could be further from the truth. My ancestors would not allow me to be filled with hate.
I was invited to contribute to the ABC's coverage as part of a discussion about the legacy of the monarchy. I pointed out that the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land. In the name of the crown my people were segregated on missions and reserves. Police wearing the seal of the crown took children from their families. Under the crown our people were massacred.
I speak truth with love, I offer Yindyamarra
Australia is the only Commonwealth country not to have signed treaties with First Nations people. Under the crown we remain the most impoverished and imprisoned people in the country. We cannot live in the fantasy Australia that pretends we have transcended this history. We owe it to ourselves to be better.
Truths. Hard truths. Truths not told with hate—truths offered with love. Yes, love. I repeatedly said that these truths are spoken with love for the Australia we have never been.
Love that inspired my grandfather —a Wiradjuri man —to fight in World War II for a country that didn't recognise his full humanity, let alone his citizenship. My grandfather who kept by his bed the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. A Wiradjuri man who knew that he had a place in the world.
Through my Wiradjuri family I learned Yindyamarra. Yindyamarra is respect.
During the coronation coverage I spoke of Yindyamarra for those who support the monarchy even as I confront the darkness of colonisation and empire. I speak truth with love because that is who I am. If I did not offer Yindyamarra, my ancestors would be ashamed of me. They would also be ashamed of me if I did not speak up for justice.
I speak of truth, not grievance. Yet that is not how it has been reported.
I can't speak for what motivates those who hear only hate instead of love. But I know the impact they have.
On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused. This is not new. Barely a week goes by when I am not racially targeted. My wife is targeted with abuse for being married to a Wiradjuri man.
I don't even read it, yet I can't escape it. People stop me in the street to tell me how vile it is. They tell me how sorry they are. Although I try to shield myself from it, the fact it is out there poisons the air I breathe.
The price of survival
The ABC has this year lodged an official complaint with Twitter about the relentless racial filth I am subjected to.
I am not beyond criticism. I occupy a privileged and prominent place in the media —I should be critiqued. And I am not thin skinned. Aboriginal people learn to tough it out. That's the price of survival.
This year the stakes are higher. There is a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and I am not alone in feeling judged. This is an Australian judgement on us. Such is politics.
But racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough.
I am writing this not because I think it will make a difference. No doubt the haters will twist this, too, and trigger another round of racism.
I am writing this because no one at the ABC —whose producers invited me onto their coronation coverage as a guest —has uttered one word of public support. Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don't hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.
I value the friendship of ABC Director of News, Justin Stevens. He has been a support and a comfort. He is trying to change an organisation that has its own legacy of racism. But he knows I am disappointed. I am dispirited.
I was not the producer nor presenter of the coronation broadcast yet every newspaper article accusing the ABC of bias has carried my image. I am writing this because I will not have people depict me as a person of hate.
The media sees battle lines, not bridges
I am not perfect. But I try to live a good life. I try to be kind. I love my family. I love my people. I love the idea of what our country could be. I am a person of God and I know God is on the side of justice.
Sadly, it seems there is no place in the media for love, kindness, goodness or God. There is no place in the media for respect.
I am sorry that some monarchists were offended at our coverage. That was never my intent. I thought I used words of love. Clearly, I failed. I have to accept I am part of the problem. I am part of the media that fails the Australian people every day.
This is the last column I will write for the ABC for a while.
On Monday night I will present my Q+A program, then walk away. For how long? I don't know.
I don't take time out because of racism —I won't give racists the satisfaction. I don't take time out because I believe the ABC was wrong to discuss the legacy of colonisation and empire on the day of the coronation. We did that, I believe, with maturity and respect.
I take time out because we have shown again that our history —our hard truth — is too big, too fragile, too precious for the media. The media sees only battle lines, not bridges. It sees only politics.
Not everything is politics. Some things are sacred. Our stories are sacred. Yet the media has turned public discussion into an amusement park. Social media, at its worst, is a sordid spectacle. A grotesque burlesque. Lives are reduced to mockery and ridicule.
I want no part of it. I want to find a place of grace far from the stench of the media. I want to go where I am not reminded of the social media sewer.
My parents have been proud of the career I have built. I owe anything I have done to them. I have tried to represent my people and do some good in the world.
I don't know now if it has amounted to anything. I thought I had come a long way from that scared, little Aboriginal boy in the school photo. Now I wonder if I have travelled very far at all.
Stan Grant is presenter of Q+A on Mondaysat 9.35pm and the ABC'sinternational affairs analyst.