Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Adam Goodes: yes, it is racist!

Star Australian Football League player Adam Goodes, twice winner of the national competition's highest award for the best and fairest player, is being repeatedly booed every time he touches the ball.

Goodes is an Aboriginal Australian. The booers deny they are being racist.

It is racist. It began with his identifying the young girl who called him an ape. People equate what happened to her afterwards as his direct victimisation of her, which it wasn't. Plenty of people are referring to this to justify their booing of Goodes.

Look at this comment from an online newspaper:

Goodes has no one to blame but himself.

He started this whole thing by going off his nut at that little girl who called him a 'Big Ape'.

He instantly took offense insisting it was a racist remark and went the heavy hammer approach.

If he were a sporting gentleman - he could have won the crowd over with sympathy. All he had to do, was walk over to the young girl and simply asked her not to use those 'bad words'. Instead he spat the dummy and piled on the aggression.

The officials in the AFL jumped on the alleged 'racist' attack and went to town on the little girl and her grand-mother. Hauling them out of the stands and detaining them until the police were called.

Picking on someone your own size is one thing. Picking a fight with a poor frightened kid and defenseless grandmother : showed him up for what he is.

This is typical of someone confusing Goodes' initial reaction to the hype that followed.

He hardly "went off his nut" or "piled on the aggression". Was Goodes responsible for dragging the "poor frightened kid" out of the stadium? He was getting on with the game as this happened.

Did he know in advance that she had a "defenceless grandmother"?

This is bullshit. It was the AFL's Indigenous Round, the weekend when the contributions of Indigenous players to the Australian national game is celebrated. It is understandable that to hear such an insult - which every person of colour takes as a reference to their sub-human status in the eyes of racists - in the context of the Indigenous Round - was emotionally gutting.

Goodes was to say later that "Racism has a face. It's a 13-year-old girl." He added, "It felt like I was in high schools again being bullied. I don't think I've ever been more hurt by someone calling me a name. Not just by what was said, by who it came from".

But then the gentleman footballer came to the girl's defence.

"I've got no doubt in my mind she's got no idea what she was calling me last night. It's not a witch hunt. I don't want people to go after this girl." He then invited her to ring him and apologise.

Goodes later revealed the girl had called him to apologise. He tweeted: "Just received a phone call from a young girl apologizing for her actions. Lets support her please #racismitstopswithme #IndigenousRound."

That could have been the end of the matter except for Collingwood President Eddie McGuire's appalling gaffe in suggesting that Goodes could have been used to promote the musical "King Kong" then being advertised in Melbourne.

It revealed just how close to the surface lies a casual racism in the white Australian psyche.

It was compounded by references Goodes made as Australian of the Year to the invasion of Australia by colonial Britain and the unsettlers- some of their descendants are referring to this to justify their booing.

One would think their view is that an Indigenous recipient of the Australian of the Year Award should simply profess his gratitude for the dispossession, by force and violence or the threat of force and violence, of the lands of his people and not use the platform to raise awareness of the cause with which he is associated. They want Goodes to be a "good Aborigine", a quiet, compliant and passive presence on the national stage alongside the kangaroo and the koala.

Just compare this to the treatment of current Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. She is an incredibly powerful and articulate champion of victims of domestic abuse, having suffered the loss of her own 11-year-old son at the hands of his violent father. It seems as natural as the sun in the sky that Batty should use the platform afforded by her Award to challenge state and federal authorities to do more to eliminate the scourge of domestic violence.

Why does Batty - who I admire enormously - have license to advocate her cause from the platform of the Award o