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Uni student splits races with new performance ritual

3 min read

ISABELLA Whāwhai Mason might still be a student at Melbourne University but her assignments are already getting her national attention.

Ms Mason, a 20-year-old student and dancer at the Victoria College of the Arts, has created a show that asks people to “process their positionality in a colonial state and in a world where whiteness is privileged”.

Where We Stand, Ms Mason’s “performance ritual”, will finish its run tomorrow night but before it finishes up the uni student wants people to understand the message she is trying to convey.

Earlier today, Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge attacked Ms Mason’s performance and said the University of Melbourne had “adopted identity politics”.

Where We Stand begins with an acknowledgment of country before the performers invite anyone who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander into the theatre.

Following that, people of colour, indigenous people, and anyone who identifies as being from an Asian diaspora are also invited into the theatre.

Inside the theatre, the performers then create a “culturally safe and welcome experience where those sorts of people would usually feel ostracised,” Ms Mason said.

Outside the theatre, the remaining group, made up entirely of white or people of European descent, are left in the foyer to watch a second show.

Performers there speak about the history of colonisation in Australia before talking about how their own “whiteness” has given them privilege.

Speaking to, Ms Mason said Where We Stand aims to show people of European descent how their “whiteness informs how they benefit in society, no matter how conscious or unconscious they are of it”.

Ms Mason said the white performers address how their “whiteness has afforded them basic niceties in society”.

She says things like the nude colour of make up brands and how clothing has been tailored to white people are just some examples.

“White people are more likely to have their name pronounced correctly, they’re more often represented in media, academia, theatre, they often see white people as active role models,” Ms Mason said.

Ms Mason said her performance ritual is an important step in starting to have a conversation about racism in Australia and said “no one feels safe” discussing it.

“They don’t want to be called offensive, or have what they’re saying misconstrued. We have so much work to do but no one knows how to start,” she said.

Since launching last week, Ms Mason has been accused of “race segregation”, “playing the blame game” and “blatant reverse racism” but she insists that was never her intention.

“My intention was never to spite the audience and it’s not about ostracising the audience in any way. I’m not playing the blame game,” she said.

After speaking to the group of white people about their own privilege, the performers invite them into the theatre.

Before they enter, the group is asked to agree to “respect the sacredness of the space” and in order to do that, are invited to sign a piece of paper that says: “I acknowledge where I stand”.

When equal representation in the theatre is lost — meaning when the number of white people outweigh all others — the performers stop what they’re doing and the entire group sits and reflects.

Ms Mason said there has never been equal representation at any shows but said a lot of people have spoken to her about how much they needed the reflection portion of the show.

“I do not consider the ritual in the foyer to be any ‘lesser’ a part of the performance, however many audience members feel as though they ‘missed out’ on the ‘real show’ in the theatre,” Ms Mason said.

Since the performances started last week, Ms Mason said the reaction has been “really beautiful for the most part” but some people have responded “very aggressively”.

“It’s supposed to be a tense and uncomfortable experience and it does make a lot of people feel very sad but it’s a necessary conversation we need to have,” she said.

The uni student has had people walk out of the performance and has had other people tell her they didn’t like it.

The 20-year-old has also copped a lot of heat online.

Right wing political group Stand Up For Australia called the piece “blatant racism/apartheid”.

“I’m presenting a hard truth and some people don’t want to hear the truth but it’s the Australia we live in right now. It’s all factual. We don’t make any accusation and it isn’t inflammatory,” she said.

Despite calls from the Institute of Public Affairs to cancel the performance, the University of Melbourne has backed Ms Mason and will continue backing her until the final show tomorrow night.

Speaking toThe Australian, Institute of Public Affairs ­director Bella D’Abrera called the performance “reverse segregation”.

“If people are paying for tickets, and taxpayers are funding the Victorian College of the Arts, then they should be let in … or they should stop the performance,” she told the publication.

In response to the taxpayer argument, Ms Mason said her detractors were forgetting she too has paid thousands for her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

“I am paying thousands for this course and I’m paying thousands to make this work,” she said.

Ms Mason said she was “insulted” that people thought Where We Stand was reverse racism.

“The literal definition of racism refers to the discrimination against minorities. White people are not a minority here meaning reverse racism is not a thing,” she said.

“Someone getting upset at me for not letting them into my university show for 10 minutes will never measure up to the systemic abuse, the death, the genocide that has happened here in Australia.”

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woman calls police on girl selling water outside San Francisco apartment building

1 min read

A WHITE woman caught on camera calling the police on an eight-year-old black girl for selling water has been dubbed “Permit Patty”, sending Twitter into meltdown.

The little girl was selling bottles of water in front her apartment building near the AT&T Park stadium in San Francisco when the woman decided to call the police.

In a video posted to Twitter, a mother states that the woman called the police on the little girl.

“An 8-year-old selling water in front of her apartment building where she’s lived her whole life is NOT a reason to call the police,” the woman captioned the video.

The video shows the mother confronting the woman while she’s on the phone.

Realising she is being filmed, the woman ducks behind a retaining wall.

“You can hide all you want,” the mother said. “The whole world gonna see you, boo.”

The woman on the phone then snaps back: “And illegally selling water without a permit?

“On my property,” the girl’s mother says.

“Its not your property,” the woman responds.

The little girl’s cousin tweeted footage of the incident, referring to the complaining woman as #PermitPatty.

Angry Twitter users slammed the woman for her petty actions.

Their anger intensified when the woman was revealed to be an entrepreneur named Alison Ettels, who sells cannabis-laced treats for animals “suffering anxiety issues”, allegedly without a permit.

“Grown adults calling the police on eight-year-old black children for basically setting up a lemonade stand,” tweeted prominent music producer DJ Pain.

“Only a devil would want to see an 8 year old child in the criminal justice system.”

Another user going the name J’Schalla tweeted: “This is America, where a grown San Francisco woman will call the cops on an 8-year old girl for selling water outside of her apartment building. #permitpatty”

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YouTube star’s final moments before stunt turns deadly

1 min read

PORTIONS of a video released by police show the final moments before a young woman shoots dead her boyfriend in a YouTube stunt gone wrong.

The prosecutor in Norman County, Minnesota released a transcript and the portions of the video Pedro Ruiz III, 22, took with his pregnant girlfriend, Monalisa Perez, 20, last year.

The final video of the incident was not released because Norman County lawyer James Brue said it was “clearly offensive to common sensibilities”, Fox News reported.

According to court documents, the couple had prepared the stunt hoping for it to go viral.

Police said the couple set up two cameras outside their home in Halstad, Minnesota. Their three-year-old daughter was watching, along with about 30 other people.

Perez, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child at the time, was heard in the video telling Mr Ruiz she could not shoot him.

Mr Ruiz asked his girlfriend to shoot him with a .50 caliber handgun while he held an encyclopaedia to his chest.

He assured her that he had done it before with a different book.

“I can’t do it babe,” Perez said. “I’m so scared. [inaudible] my heart is beating out of [inaudible].”

“Babe, if I kill you what’s gonna happen to my life. Like no, this isn’t OK,” she said. “I don’t want to be responsible.”

Mr Ruiz replied: “As long as you hit the book, you’ll be fine. Come on.”

The bullet went through the book, killing Mr Ruiz on June 26, 2017.

In December 2017, Perez pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. The young mum will serve her sentence in 30-day instalments each year for six years.

Before his death, Mr Ruiz was an up-and-coming YouTube star.

The couple had a presence on the site by performing pranks including eating a doughnut with baby powder sprinkled on top.

However, his new YouTube channel was going to follow him doing outrageous stunts, FOX 9 reported. Mr Ruiz said he was inspired by MTV shows Jack*ss and Nitro Circus.

“I may fail, but if I fail I want to die trying. We’re all going to die anyways — it’s just a matter of how and when,” Mr Ruiz was heard saying in one of his videos.

In another video released by prosecutors, Mr Ruiz was heard saying he could die from the stunt but had “confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me.”

“So if I’m going to die, I’m pretty much ready to go to heaven right now. If I die, I’ll be ready for Jesus,” he said.

“He probably won’t accept me into the pearly gates because of how stupid this is, but I have confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission.

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How sick experiment separated triplets

8 min read

WHEN 19-year-old Robert Shafran drove from his home in Scarsdale, New York, to the Catskills for his first day at Sullivan Community College in 1980, he was shocked to find that everyone already knew and adored him.

“Welcome back!” guys said. Girls ran up and kissed him. Finally, a fellow student, Michael Domnitz, connected the dots after asking if Shafran was adopted: “You have a twin!” he said.

Domnitz was a friend of Edward Galland, who’d dropped out of Sullivan the previous year. He knew Galland was also adopted, and he called him right away.

Shafran was stunned to hear a voice identical to his own on the other end of the line — and decided he couldn’t wait to meet his “new” brother.

That day, Shafran and Domnitz drove to the New Hyde Park, Long Island, home where Galland lived with his adoptive parents.

When the door opened, Shafran says in the film Three Identical Strangers, he saw his own face staring back at him: “It was like everything faded away, and it was just me and Eddy.”

But as he would soon discover, it wasn’t.

Months later, David Kellman, a student at Queens College, saw a news story about the reunited twins and recognised his own face in the photos.

He called Galland’s house and got his mother, who said: “Oh my God, they’re coming out of the woodwork!”

Three Identical Strangers chronicles a story so wild that, as Shafran says in the film, “I wouldn’t believe [it] if someone else was telling it.”

And once the long-lost siblings found each other, their story became even more shocking as they discovered they had been part of a decades-long psychological experiment that had controlled their destiny.


The triplets were born to a teenage girl on July 12, 1961, at Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.

Split up at six months by the now-defunct Manhattan adoption agency Louise Wise Services, the boys were raised within 160km of each other. None of the adoptive parents knew of the other brothers.

Before the babies were placed in their adoptive homes, the agency had told the prospective parents that the children were part of a “routine childhood-development study.”

The parents say it was strongly implied that participation in the study would increase their chances of being able to adopt the boys.

For the first 10 years of their lives, the siblings were each visited by research assistants led by Peter Neubauer, a prominent child psychologist who had worked closely with Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna.

“It appears there were at least four a year for the first two years and a minimum of one visit per year after that,” said the film’s director, Tim Wardle.

Officially, the study went on for a decade; however, said Wardle, “it’s clear from some of the study records that the scientists continued to follow from a distance and collect data on the triplets’ progress for many years after this.”

Dr Neubauer’s study, initially brought to light by New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, involved separating a still-unknown number of twins and triplets at birth and placing them with families of varying economic and emotional reserves. The intention? To answer the question of nature versus nurture.

The brothers were placed with families who were working class (Kellman), middle class (Galland) and upper middle class (Shafran).

Kellman’s father, a grocery-store owner, was a warm and loving man who eventually became affectionately known as “Bubula” to all three of the young men.

Shafran reports his upbringing to have been slightly more reserved, with his doctor father often away.

Galland clashed with his father, who, according to Wardle, “had a different idea of what men should be.” Collectively, they represented a spectrum of “nurture.”


“That era, the ’50s and ’60s, was the Wild West of psychology,” Wardle said.

“The Milgram experiments [on human obedience], the Stanford Prison Experiment. Psychology was trying to establish itself as a new science, and people were pushing the envelope.”

Still, Dr Neubauer and his associates were not roundly accepted, said the director.

“They approached other agencies to be part of the study, and [were told], ‘You can’t split up twins and triplets — what are you thinking?’ Even at the time, it was pretty extreme.”

Conducted in the families’ homes, the meetings involved cognitive tests, such as puzzles and drawings, and were always filmed.

Behavioural problems were evident almost immediately in the triplets. According to their adoptive parents, as babies, all three would regularly bang their heads against the bars of their cots in distress.

Kellman thinks he knows why: “It was absolutely separation anxiety.”

Mental-health issues continued as the boys got older. By the time they were college-aged, Kellman and Galland had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals; Shafran was on probation after having pleaded guilty to charges connected to the murder of a woman in a 1978 robbery.

“Those who were studying us saw there was a problem happening. And they could have helped,” Kellman told The New York Post. “That’s the thing we’re most angry about. They could have helped … and didn’t.”

In the early days, life for the reunited triplets was a party. The strapping young men made the talk-show rounds and moved into an apartment together in Flushing, Queens.

“We were sort of falling in love,” said Kellman of the time. “It was, ‘You like this thing? I love that!’ There was definitely a desire to like the same things and to be the same.”

But as they spent more time together, he recalled, “there would also be times when one of us was closer to another. And it was not fun to be the odd man out.”

They met their mother, briefly, in the early ’80s. Hers was an underwhelming story, says Kellman in the film: “A prom-night knock-up.” She had drinks with them but didn’t pursue any further relationship.

In 1988, the trio opened a restaurant in Soho, called Triplets Roumanian Steakhouse. (Shafran left the business several years later, and it closed in 2000.)

“We did do a lot of crazy things,” Shafran told The Post. “Like march down 42nd Street with one of us perched on the other two’s shoulders, stopping traffic.

“One night, we ran into [celebrity photographer] Annie Leibovitz,” Shafran added.

“She said, ‘I work for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone. Let me hang out and take your picture.’ She took us to Peppermint Lounge and the Mudd Club. We were wearing these Izod Lacoste shirts and, like, matching white jeans, going to places where people had multiple piercings and all kinds of colour in their hair. We felt like virgins in a brothel!”


They were also spotted on the street by director Susan Seidelman. “She was like, ‘You’re the guys! Will you be in my film?’ ” Shafran recalled. That film was 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan.

In one scene, Madonna jumps out of a convertible and heads into an apartment, catching a smile from the three brothers lounging by the stoop.

“We were kind of cautious about doing it,” said Shafran, “because the whole crew had this sort of leathery, punk look.”

As the triplets basked in their new-found bond and endless similarities, their adoptive parents were beginning an investigation into why the trio had been separated in the first place.

They convened a meeting with several officials at Louise Wise, who gave them little information.

“They said the reason was because it was hard to place three children in one home,” Kellman says in the film. “At that moment my father blew his stack. He said, ‘We would have taken all three. There’s no question’.”

The parents left frustrated and angry, but Shafran’s father had forgotten his umbrella.

“He went back to get it,” says Shafran’s stepmother in the movie, “and he walked into the room to see them breaking open a bottle of Champagne and toasting each other, as if they had dodged a bullet.”

The furious parents vowed to take legal action. But, said Wardle, “they couldn’t find any law firms that would take the case — some firms told the parents they had partners who were trying to adopt from the agency and they didn’t want to damage their chances.”


Eventually, the brothers married off and had kids of their own: David and Janet Kellman had two daughters, Ali and Reyna; Robert and Ilene had a daughter, Elyssa, and a son, Brandon; and Eddy and Brenda had one daughter, Jamie.

Of all the triplets, Galland seems to have been the one who was the most affected by their discovery of one another.

Growing up, Galland and his adoptive father “didn’t quite see eye-to-eye,” Wardle said. “They had a very dysfunctional relationship. So when he met his brothers for the first time, he felt, this is my family. He put everything into being with the boys.”

But in 1995, Galland, who had exhibited increasing signs of bipolar disorder, killed himself at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.

“A heartbreaking detail that isn’t in the film is that Eddy moved several times so that he could be close to the brothers,” said Wardle. “He did that, I think, three times. He had moved close to David and his family when he ultimately died — he was living across the street from them, which is kind of tragic.”

After Galland’s suicide, Shafran and Kellman drifted apart, their relationship indelibly marked by the whiplash of initial euphoria and the harrowing events that came later.

“It would be fair to say their relationship was very strained from the point [Robert] left the restaurant,” said Wardle, who says the two remaining brothers did begin to get somewhat closer over the course of making the film.


Today, Shafran is a lawyer living in Gravesend, Brooklyn; Kellman, who is still in New Jersey and in the process of a divorce, is an independent general agent working in life insurance, medicare and annuities.

He has remained in touch with Galland’s wife and daughter. “My daughter and Jamie are extremely close,” Kellman said.

After everything they went through, the study that so altered the triplets’ lives was never published. Dr Neubauer shelved his findings, and upon his death in 2008 and according to his orders, all documents related to the study were placed with Yale University and restricted until 2065.

Through an attorney, the remaining siblings eventually gained access to thousands of pages of documents from the archive.

“We were given some discs with notes and stuff like that, and it was pretty heavily redacted. Everything I got was just about me — it wasn’t about visits to me versus visits to Eddy,” said Shafran.

Wardle was able to access short clips of film from the study, and the end credits play over archival footage of the triplets as toddlers, separately working puzzles, taking tests and looking quizzically at the person behind the camera who’s so interested in their behaviour.

Their search for answers as to why it was ever allowed to happen is still not over.

“There are people living in New York City now, practising psychiatrists, who were heavily involved in setting [the study] up,” Wardle said.

“They refused to talk to [the filmmakers] even when we had the proof they were involved in it.”

But, he hopes, once the film is out, “there will be a lot of attention on those involved.”

In the film, viewers hear a recording of the psychologist speaking with New Yorker writer Wright about his work. “Neubauer showed no remorse,” Shafran said of that clip. “If anything, he reinforced his position. We were subjects, and it was a study. [But] you don’t do a study with human experimentation.”

Robbed of the chance to confront Dr Neubauer in life, Kellman is seen directing his anger into the camera. “Why?” he says. “What did you do? Why? And how could you?”

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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