The Eggboy Incident Opens Up a Can of Worms About Allyship

Only 48 hours after the nightmarish attacks on Linwood and Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, Hebah Ali found herself at a lunch table hearing the sentence: ‘Fraser Anning should be kicked out of Parliament for assaulting a minor, he’s not fit to be a Senator’ .

No mention of Christchurch, or the attacks, or fifty-one deaths. Fraser Anning and Eggboy.

I paused mid-chew. It was at this moment I realised that the ‘vigilante’, Will Connolly, now known as Eggboy, elicited a more visceral response from this particular person, than the Islamaphobic statements made by Anning directly after fifty-one Muslim people were brutally murdered. As the Eggboy story grew and took over social media and news platforms I realised it wasn’t just this one person who celebrated Connolly as the poster boy of standing up to white supremacy.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including a vast majority of the Muslim community, applauded his act of solidarity, and rightfully so. I am a firm believer in acknowledging the work that allies do to support minority groups; however, when the work that allies participate in overshadows the work minorities dedicate their lives to, we develop an issue.

White allies, specifically, fall into this area of counter productive activism by becoming a ‘voice for the voiceless’; inserting themselves as saviours into the narratives of marginalised groups, instead of passing the mic to amplify their voices.

In the case of Eggboy, his minute act of defiance somehow snowballed to become the pinnacle of all that Australians had to offer in solidarity to its Muslim communities. Eggboy received an unreasonable amount of accolade from celebrities, bands, artists, and athletes who have gone as far as gifting him free tickets to concerts for life, painting huge murals of his face, repping his name and face on their clothing. A GoFundMe campaign was started in his name, raising over ten thousand dollars for Eggboy to buy more eggs. To say the worldwide attention he got was excessive is an understatement. Eggboy completely monopolised the Christchurch conversation, hindering a crucial dialogue for this country to address its rampant white supremacy and islamaphobia that festers within.

There is never anywhere near this much attention and support for disenfranchised groups standing up for their rights, condemning their oppressors, speaking out about their struggles. Why? Throughout history women of colour have been the driving force for change and justice. Where are their murals?

Gloria Richardson in 1964, at the forefront of the Cambridge Movement  Image credit: Blackpast.org

Gloria Richardson in 1964, at the forefront of the Cambridge Movement

Image credit: Blackpast.org

Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate flag from a pole at the Statehouse Grounds in Columbia in 2015.  Image credit: Washington Post

Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate flag from a pole at the Statehouse Grounds in Columbia in 2015.

Image credit: Washington Post

Tess Asplund stands with power at a Neo Nazi demonstration in Sweden in 2016.   Image credit: Telesurenglish.net

Tess Asplund stands with power at a Neo Nazi demonstration in Sweden in 2016.

Image credit: Telesurenglish.net

Saffiyah Khan calmly smiles in the face of bigotry in 2017.  Image credit: independent.co.uk

Saffiyah Khan calmly smiles in the face of bigotry in 2017.

Image credit: independent.co.uk

Eleanor Harding, Indigenous equal rights activist and education campaigner.

Eleanor Harding, Indigenous equal rights activist and education campaigner.

For decades people of colour have been defying the systems that oppress them, it doesn't make sense why a white boy throwing an egg became the catalyst for people to condemn the white supremacy still so prevalent in government and societal structures. Why not the multitude of xenophobic, islamaphobic and misogynistic comments spat carelessly in parliament prior to Christchurch and the egging incident?

The answer lies within white guilt and the white saviour complex.

After the Christchurch incident, and the revelation of the ‘Australian’ terrorist and his grotesque manifesto, a large number of white Australians felt a sense of shame and guilt that this country had produced a killer responsible for murdering fifty-one people because of their faith. This shame and guilt grew for some white people after hearing Senator Anning’s deplorable victim blaming and far right anti-immigration rhetoric.

Thus, when Eggboy carried out his act of defiance, he was used as a vehicle for white Australians to distance themselves from their guilt. It’s significantly easier to adopt a white saviour complex; the illusion of activism eradicates the responsibility to navigate a conversation in which the terrorist resembles white Australia and the ‘othering’ they perpetuate.

Though I don’t blame Eggboy for how his story unfolded, it does place an onus on white allies to have uncomfortable conversations about race, and privilege. By listening, understanding, and amplifying voices of minority groups, we can create a space in which activism becomes constructive.

Stand first:

Hebah Ali explains how and why Eggboy became an icon for political defiance and further discusses how the white saviour complex hinders progressive action for minority groups.

Hebah Ali is a second year Media Arts and Production student. She is extremely passionate about film, theatre, and literature and enjoys all three with the company of her beloved cat, Rasputin.