Australian 4th Grader Gets Detention for Refusing to Stand for National Anthem September 12, 2018

Australian 4th Grader Gets Detention for Refusing to Stand for National Anthem

A 4th-grade girl in Australia received detention and risked suspension after refusing to stand for the National Anthem based on her concerns surrounding the song’s racist undertones.

Nine-year-old Harper Nielsen is concerned about “Advance Australia Fair” because she says its lyrics are not inclusive of indigenous Australians. (She’s hardly the first to say this.)

The protest comes at the height of anthem-protest fever in the U.S., following Nike’s decision to run a major ad featuring Colin Kaepernick and referencing his decision to kneel to bring awareness to racial disparities.

Nielsen and her parents have been at odds with Kenmore South State School since administrators gave her detention and tried to force her to sign a written apology or face suspension.

“The reason why I don’t sing it or stand is because — Advance Australia Fair means advance White Australia,” she said.

When it says we are young it completely ignores the fact that indigenous culture was here for over 50,000 thousand years before colonisation.”

So at the start of this term she started her own peaceful protest by refusing to stand for the anthem at assembly.

Nielsen has some good points, but instead of acknowledging them — and understanding the time in which we live — the school tried suppressing her protest. History shows that this tactic doesn’t usually work. If anything, their attempt to stifle her speech has only amplified it.

The reaction of school has been to demand she stand, or on other occasions instruct her to leave the building.

Her continued refusal to do either has become an issue for the school administration.

Last week she was given detention during lunch and asked to sign an apology for “blatant disrespect” associated with her refusal to follow the teacher’s instructions.

She was told that she could not leave the office until she had signed a written apology and that she could be suspended for continuing the behaviour.

Nielsen’s parents haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the school, and that should be concerning to administrators who believe a student thinking critically about her nation deserves criticism rather than applause.

She may be on her own for now, but it’s only a matter of time before other kids join in her protest. History doesn’t look very kindly on those who celebrate or ignore oppression.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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