Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Booing Adam Goodes has become about Racism.

The pot has been stirred and Australia can't stop talking about it. No, I'm not referring to Bronwyn Bishop's travel expenses, though that too gets us talking. And I'm not speaking about changing the Marriage Act or whether Bill Shorten would make a good Prime Minister. I'm talking about racism. Well, more directly, I'm talking about the booing saga that has Adam Goodes choosing to sit out for a week of professional football and which has divided the Australian public.

Go with me for a minute. Remember the apology to the 'Stolen Generation'? Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood before the parliament, during his tenure as Prime Minister and offered a heartfelt apology to Indigenous Australia. He said:
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on....our fellow [indigenous] Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry...
The moment was February 13th, 2008. Such words were spoken because underlying the relationships between Anglo-Australians and Indigenous Australians was a bubbling discontent. Someone had to step forward and offer some leadership to help bring about reconciliation. Rudd ripped off the band-aid and tried to offer some disinfectant.

Though it is clear that some seven years later, the tension and hurt still runs deep with the inherent differences around our race. In a piece called Racism in Australia today, I wrote: 
You could liken racism in Australia to soup in a pot boiling away on the stove and occasionally someone turns up the heat and the pot overflows. Right from the settlement of white immigrants in the late 18th Century there has been racial tension, and discrimination has been bubbling away, coming to the surface on occasions.
Adam Goodes has turned up the heat.

Now, who would have thought, that something as seemingly simple as booing a footballer during an AFL match could spark up issues of race today. Some of you are yelling at the computer now, saying, 'It's not about racism!' Well, that may be true for you, but if it is interpreted as racism, does that not make it so? I mean, if you abuse someone, and a person feels abused, surely you don't get the luxury of pointing out that you 'felt like abuse did not occur' and then automatically that becomes true. That's as petty and pathetic as when I was in high school and someone punched me in the arm, and I said that it hurt. The reply came, 'That didn't hurt!' But wait a minute! That's my arm, and I can tell you it hurts! Don't tell me it doesn't hurt, because you're the one inflicting it upon me!

Maybe, it was not about racism when it all started. Sure. I can go with that. Though, when people on social media start labelling Adam Goodes everything under the sun, we quickly realise, Australia has racism issues. And the reason the Adam Goodes thing became linked to racism, was because when someone applies the heat to Australian culture, the cracks appear, and one of those cracks is our racist attitudes towards Indigenous Australians.

The sooner we admit we have an underlying racist problem in Australia, the better. Then and only then can we truly start to do something about it.

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