Copping flak for being anti-vax isn't discrimination: A note to Sam Frost

Copping flak for being anti-vax isn’t discrimination: A note to Sam Frost

Sam Frost

Dear Sam,

YIKES.

First and foremost, I hope you’re okay. Public backlash is never a fun thing and while I don’t know you personally, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you said something ignorant, but you’re now feeling the guilts (in a big way).

Nonetheless, I think it’s important to explain why your video, posted to your thousands of followers on Instagram, caused such resounding anger– particularly for people in this country who have experienced real discrimination.

Your claim that you and many others have been experiencing “segregation” for your anti-vax views, was a helluva stretch and insulting beyond measure.

Again, I’m sure you used this word not understanding its true gravity, but we need to unpack that. Don’t worry this won’t take long, because basically it boils down to this:

As a privileged, white woman with a public profile and full-time work, you have never experienced segregation.

You have never been discriminated against for your race, class or ethnicity. You have never been restricted from normal social intercourse, or had your education separated or been sidelined in social arenas– simply because of how you look or your background.

The use of this specific word in explaining the reaction against you not to get vaccinated, diminishes the experience and trauma of people who have truly suffered this. And there are many.

In Australia, First Nations people have faced the inhumanity of real segregation for centuries.

Whole communities were torn in half when white colonists stole children from their families in a bid to assimilate; the barbaric assumption that the lives of First Nations people would be improved if they became part of white society. 

Up until quite recently (the 1960s), Aboriginal people were segregated from white Australians at restaurants, in swimming pools, on school buses, in cinemas and even at hospitals.

Our First Nations people were not afforded the right to vote till 1962.

This is true segregation and the devastating impacts of this mistreatment–this brutality–has lasted generations.

By contrast (although it seems ridiculous to even have to point this out), your decision not to get vaccinated is a choice.

Yes, you might be experiencing some peer fallout from making that choice, but it has always been yours to make.

There is a persistent confusion that we see broadcast annoyingly often by certain individuals, commentators and media organisations around peoples’ freedom to do something, and their freedom to do it without consequence.

Presuming you don’t have a valid medical exemption from getting the COVID vaccination (and I presume this, given you didn’t actually disclose one in your video), then you are opting to defy public health advice. You’re making a choice to follow your own rules and subscribe to alternate information at a time when the community is at high risk.

Most people aren’t going to take kindly to that, Sam. They’re going to perceive your actions as naive and selfish. I am one of them.

You might have even faced repercussions from your employer about working on set and filming with cast-mates. I hope that’s the case.

The tangible consequence (aside from peer/familial/public criticism) of your decision not to get vaccinated is merely that you and the other Australians who have made the same call will need to wait a slightly longer period before being afforded certain public freedoms like going to the pub. This seems like a small price to pay for your stance.

Moreover, no one’s enforcing this with the sole motive of trying to upset you or hold you back.

They’re enforcing it so that the healthcare system (which is already horrifically overburdened) doesn’t fall apart. They’re enforcing that so that vulnerable Australians aren’t placed at greater risk during a precarious time.

You claim to be pushing for “empathy” and “understanding” in your video. Try considering this in the context of your own situation.

I hope you read the constructive criticism many have fired your way, and choose a different pathway forward. I hope you come out with a public statement acknowledging why your use of the term ‘segregation’ was offensive and ignorant. I hope you learn from this and strive to do better and be more productive when you take a public stand against something in the future.

I also hope that you’ll get vaccinated. But that might be pushing my wish-list just a tad far.

Yours gratefully,

Many Australians.

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