An obituary by The New York Times for one of Australia’s leading Indigenous actors Jack Charles has been labelled as “vile” and racist” by social media users.

Warning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers: this article contains the name and images of someone who has died.

Charles, who was a beloved Australian actor, was reported to have died peacefully on Tuesday, September 13th at the Royal Melbourne Hospital after suffering a stroke.

Today, The New York Times published an article about Charles’ passing that labelled him a member of the “so-called Stolen Generation” and addressed his “heroin addiction” and “penchant for burglary”.

Charles was a child of the Stolen Generation and was taken away from his mother when he was four months old, to be “assimilated” into a white family. Jack then went on to spend his early years in state care, where he was subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

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He would later speak on how the trauma of his childhood led him to actions that saw him spending the next five decades in and out of prison. Jack Charles was a prime example of the state’s complete failure at serving its Indigenous citizens.

Jack Charles was a prominent figure in Australian film, with a career that spanned decades. He is most known for his role in promoting Indigenous theatre and appearing in Australian films such as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Bedevil (1993) and Blackfellas (1993).

Social Media users slammed the insensitive The New York Times article and it has since been updated to remove the offensive statements.

“Disgusting approach, probably racial in motive. I bet you Wayne Carey would be eulogised as a saint were he to drop off the perch suddenly. I was fortunate enough to meet Uncle Jack Charles, and he radiated warmth, character, and honesty. A truly good soul who helped lift others,” one person tweeted.

Another penned, “Really, @natashamfrost [author of the article] a quick look at Wikipedia would’ve told you there was nothing “so-called” about the Stolen Generations. As for framing Jack Charles with words of recidivism instead of redemption  you & the @nytimes should be ashamed.

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