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Indigenous Politician Publicly Shares Disturbing Racist Letters Online

"Brain dead, brain washed, black bitch".

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Federal Labor Senator Nova Peris has started posting the racist hate mail she receives on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

“I started posting the racist material I receive because racism should be called out. You can’t let people get away with that kind of hate. It’s usually sent anonymously or privately, which is pretty cowardly," the Northern Territory senator told BuzzFeed News.

Peris, Australia’s first Aboriginal woman to sit in federal parliament, posted several disturbing letters she had received over the past week from a member of the public.

"I can’t sit by and let it go unnoticed. If someone sends me a racist threat, I’m not going to allow them the satisfaction of seeing me accept it, I’m going to make sure everyone knows how much of a bigoted coward they are," she says.

"As a senator, I feel it’s my duty to expose this behaviour on behalf of other Australians who are subject to racism".

One letter features a picture of Peris with rifle crosshairs on her forehead as she stands next to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose face has been smudged out. The caption above reads, "Who will come a coon hunting with me".

"I’ve lived a public life for 23 years and in that time it hasn’t been uncommon to receive such brutal racist hate mail,” Peris, a former Olympian, says.

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"You are one of those working class sub-humans who wear rose coloured glasses and live in the Dreamtime with an egocentric public image of, 'look at me folks, I’m an empty tin can with a mouth that makes a lot of nigger noise'," the racist and sexist letter goes on to say.

"Battle-hardened veterans of the political system will cut you down to size and put you right back where you rightfully belong, crawling on all fours out in the deserts of central Australia, pissed out of your mind and scavenging for food scraps".

Peris says she felt compelled to put these particular letters online because unlike the racist social media comments she often receives, in this case an anonymous person spent time crafting these letters, making them more sinister.

"It happens too often. Some of it is casual racism, sometimes it’s outright threatening. But when people put it on paper, I feel compelled to expose it on social media," Peris said.

Most of the abuse takes aim at Nova's heritage and how she entered politics as Julia Gillard's 'captain pick'.

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"Who would want to vote for a stupid, dumb bastard, stone age, backward, brainless braindead, brainwashed black bitch that has the brain capacity of a grain of sand," one venomous letter reads under the picture of a black chess piece and the title "Gillard's black pawn".

Peris has called on those who insist on sending racist abuse to put their names to it.

"If you really believe that I’m 'Julia Gillard’s black pawn', have the guts to say so publically, or else keep your bigotry to yourself," she said.

Another letter with the title of "Gillard's raw black prawn," talks about breeding out, "brainless black bitches of the coon species".

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After posting the abusive letters, Peris has received an outpouring of support.

@NovaPeris @ItStopsWithMe disgusting. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. Awful.

@NovaPeris @ItStopsWithMe 😳😳😳😳 Wish this was no longer a thing. A lot of hatred in that person's soul.

@NovaPeris @ItStopsWithMe this is disgusting and the person should be ashamed of themselves.

@NovaPeris @ItStopsWithMe That is one of the most disgusting things i have ever read. I'm sorry you have to deal with this.

"I’ll continue to call it out until one day, maybe these letters will stop. The reaction on Facebook is always one of shock, and people call out how disgusting it is," Peris said

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The senator says she will continue to draw attention to racist abuse.

"By exposing this kind of threatening racism, I hope to make people aware of the kind bigotry that’s out there".

"If bigots know that when they write these things, they’ll be called out publically, maybe they’ll realise that their behaviour isn’t acceptable in Australia and reconsider their beliefs".

Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at allan.clarke@buzzfeed.com.

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