Thursday, May 30, 2013

Is This Really 2013?

Warning#1: Another non-wargaming post!

Warning #2: This is my opinion. You do not have to agree with it, but please respect my right to express it.

In 1993 the great Nicky Winmar of  AFL team St. Kilda  lifted his jumper and pointed to his dark skin as a response to racist abuse hurled at him from the Collingwood cheer squad. He was saying to them "I'm black and proud. Your abuse can't change that!"

Nicky Winmar's iconic gesture to the Collingwood crowd in 1993
Fast forward 20 years and in the Indigenous Round of the 2013 season, no less, Sydney Swans captain Adam Goodes was called an "ape" by a teenage girl in the crowd. Yep, another Collingwood supporter.
Goodes, another indigenous player, singled her out for security to escort from the ground. He was reportedly "gutted" by the abuse and wasn't present to celebrate their victory over Collingwood, so deeply did he feel the hurt of the abuse.

Adam Goodes nearly as iconic gesture to the Collingwood crowd in 2013
Now for all of you who don't follow Australian Rules Football, this may be news to you, but here in Australia, this latest incident has dominated the headlines and talkback-airwaves over the last week. Not only because of the issue of racism, but in the dignified response by Goodes, not blaming the girl who was too young to know better, and clearly describing the effect of racism on him personally and the Aboriginal community in general. Collingwood president and media personality, Eddie MacGuire, also gained much respect by personally apologising to Goodes straight after the match and making it clear that racism is not to be tolerated in the game and in society generally.

But Eddie undid all his good work by stupidly suggesting that Goodes should be used to promote the musical version of King Kong on his morning radio show yesterday morning!

How a lot of people reacted to Eddie McGuire's brain fail
He has unreservedly apologised and tried to explain that somehow between his brain and his mouth the words got mangled, but has been howled down for making the situation worse. His intentions don't really matter: the effect does.

And that's what has got my goat in all this, especially listening to talkback radio; the lack of empathy about what it means to be an Indigenous Australian and the effect that casual racism has. Ignorant opinions expressed on the radio that "they're all grown-ups and should take it on the chin" just don't take into consideration the ancestral dispossession, disadvantage and despair handed down from generation to generation. People like Goodes, who have made it to the pinnacle of elite sport, have done it despite their aboriginality, not because of it. They are the exceptions to the rule, but still carry the burden of disadvantage. Indigenous Australians constitute 2.4% of the overall population, but are disproportionately represented in the figures of alcohol abuse, unemployment, victims and perpetrators of violence, incarceration (including deaths in custody), mortality in general - the list goes on. Succeeding in the face of all that burden and then copping the sort of crap that's made the attention of the media in the last week, I can totally understand Goodes' saying that he's been cut to the bone. Especially when his abuser was a child who knew no better, and had obviously picked up on what adults around her had taught her.

Eddie's brain fart just topped a week that left me open mouthed with disbelief! (To be fair he has admitted since that what he said was racial vilification, no matter what his intentions were.)

Let's hope that this all translates into a focus on how we as a nation can lift the living standards of our indigenous population from its current abysmal 3rd world level to something approaching the rest of the population.....Hang on; it's an election year. There's no votes in aboriginal affairs. Silly me!


  1. I totally agree with you. I am not from Australia but from Germany. Here we have also some serious problems when it comes to racism and pushing people outside the standarts because of religious affairs or because the hail from a "wrong" foreign country. Let us not forget that is is the person that counts not the color of his skin, his religion or country.

  2. Good rant Rosbif. This has been all over the news here too!

  3. Well said sir. Goodes' dignified, honest and generous response was damn impressive. Can't we vote for him?

  4. Good rant! With Memorial weekend, overtime,etc; I missed that. I myself am a mix breed. Granted, my tribe being of the Great Lakes, did not suffer as much as my western cousins yet I was a bit put out that the asian kid, the creole kid, and I were always the indians and never the cowboys when growing up! ;)
    It took a bit to not get get wound up when someone called me "chief" too. I have chosen to embrace my heritage, and I seek out historical Natives to show my kids that they CAN do anything. I also serve my country in the military and have found an equilibrium of sorts. I am fully prepared by oaths that I do take seriously including protection of other countrymen who may not share or agree with my own values. The right path is seldom the easy one, but the restraint in the face of adversity does wonders for personel growth! ;)

  5. Good post, sir. Very sad but at least it has sparked a discussion and some introspection (hopefully).

  6. Great stuff mate. Good to see it being said in public. Speaking as a massive Bombers fan, I'm hoping Goodesy runs out and plays an absolute blinder this weekend against us. And the Bombers still win by a point. ;-)

  7. Goodes for PM! I'd vote for that.

  8. The best blog post of 2013. Well said mate, and it needed saying.

  9. I hope you'll see some good change there...

    Everywhere, what we see is more racist behavior, should it be beacause of the skin, sexuality, wages, religion, sports team, ...

  10. Did you watch Marngrook that week Ben? The only footy show worth watching did it so well, of course.


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