Daily Buzz: Surfing magazine in hot water for making a monkey of a man
An Australian surfing magazine found itself in hot water after a profile likened Aboriginal surfer Otis Carey to an ape.
Australia's Otis Carey at Bondi Beach in 2011.
Cameron Spencer / Getty Images AsiaPac
By Tully Corcoran
Nobody tell the apes, but in civilized human society, referring to other human beings as "apeish" is considered derogatory at best and racist at worst.
So imagine being Australian Otis Carey, a surfer of Aboriginal heritage. You agree to do a profile with a surfing magazine and you assume the story is going to concern the significance of your surfing career and, perhaps, your relevance in popular culture.
And then the magazine comes out, and it expresses shock that you are not some kind of pre-human cave dweller.
"With his apeish face and cowering hair-curtains, I expect little more than Cro-Magnon grunts from his mouth," Nathan Myers wrote in the March issue of Australia's Surfing Life magazine, as quoted in the Daily Telegraph. "I am caught off guard by the clarity and eloquence of his speech."
Carey himself hasn't publicly responded to the piece, and his father has told Australian press that the family would rather not talk about it. Which, frankly, makes sense: What is a human supposed to say in response to being called a troglodyte? Are you supposed to argue against it? Are you supposed to reinforce your own humanity?
No, you just let it hang in the air, where it only becomes more preposterous and foul. You let the public take over, which it will, and is.
And you let your previous words on your heritage speak for themselves.
"Whether I like it or not, that natural spiritual connection I have with the ocean and the land has been given to me as a gift through my heritage," Carey told Focus magazine in 2013. "And it's something I embrace to the fullest and something I'm very proud of."
Surfing Life magazine issued a statement apologizing to Carey and his family, saying its editors initially read "apeish" "as a jibe at the stereotypical surfer" and "failed to see the racist connotations" of the term.
The statement went on to say Surfing Lifeeditor Wade Davis is a person of color whose family immigrated to Australia from Africa, and he has indigenous heritage on his paternal side.
"Davis is devastated that a thoughtless misread could have allowed an insensitive and damaging term to have slipped through to publication."