It started out innocently enough, a bit of banter between two footy mates, but then apropos nothing he comes out with “Eddie Betts and Adam Goodes were both very proud and outspoken trendy ambassadors for indigenous people within the AFL. The AFL crowds only booed one of them. Yet they are seen as racist.” Then quickly followed by the increasingly popular disclaimer and defuser “Just saying”.
For my overseas readers I should clarify here that we are referring to Australian Rules Football, AFL, and to two of the AFL players. Adam Goodes was the indigenous player that was aggressively booed out of the game in 2015. The booing reached a crescendo after an incident during a game in May 2015 which was part of what is known as the indigenous round, intended to celebrate the contribution of indigenous players to AFL. Adam did a short war dance as a celebration of a goal he had just scored. At home watching it on TV I was filled with admiration that he had brought this into the game, it was most appropriate and a proud contribution to this, the indigenous round.
A Sydney lawyer, Tim Dick, also shared my feelings about the celebration but was dismayed as I was at the wide spread reactions to it. He wrote an excellent article which better expresses the feelings I shared at the reaction. I commend you to read the article here or through the link provided below in References because he highlights many of the issues which I intended to include in this post. Suffice to say that I am to this day disgusted that a player of Adam’s inimitable talent was driven early from the game that he had excelled at.
I couldn’t immediately think of an acceptable answer to my mate and the question has prompted me to write this. He was obviously distressed that the crowds booing were seen as racist. This led me to find a better way to describe the sort of people I think would join in with the booing of Adam Goodes. I came up with the term “Colonials” to best fit to what I see as a large proportion of the white population of Australia. All tribes have families at their core and your family ties are closest to your heart. If we look at the Australian “tribe” the broad family groupings cover those of English background, white christians primarily then Indigenous, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and the list of families widens from there. There are no clear or defined boundaries and I am proud that these lines have become blurred in modern multi-cultural Australia.
The Colonials as I call them come from the English background, the colonial conquerors of this nation in the 1700’s, who still insist an English flag be included on our national flag, who still welcome an English royal as our head of state and embrace their subjugation to the English Crown because they see the individual royals as “nice people”. They are also usually the sole and self-appointed arbiters of what is deemed “un-Australian”. They believe they are inclusive of all these different immigrant and indigenous “families”, but this is only the public face, political correctness as they say. In small print and underneath this display, this inclusion and acceptance is provided only if they know their place as subservient to the conquerors, the Colonials. It is also reflected in pride that “one does not get above one’s station” or in colloquial terms “don’t get a big head”.
What then were they booing about? To me the answer is regrettably best summed up by that hateful term from the South in the USA, Adam was to them an “uppity nigger”. I can almost hear the roar of indignation from some readers who will be offended by this, very likely the same people who also joined in the booing of Adam Goodes. How else are we to read their reaction? Scratch the skin of a Colonial and you will find a full blooded racist deep beneath but who claim vehemently on the surface that they are not racist. Sadly the Colonials do not even recognise their racism. They see themselves as proud Australians and it is distinctly “un-Australian” to be seen as racist. A red headed woman from Queensland has cemented a place in our parliament based on these principles, who claims white is right and in the same breath that she is not racist.
I think that it is time for this group of people, the Colonials, to lose their sole arbitration of what is “Australian”. Let us reserve the term “Australian” for those who take pride in all the magnificent cultural features that unite us as a multi-cultural society and in particular, start to take pride and joy from the things that indigenous culture in particular can bring to us. As Tim Dick points out we could learn a lot from our neighbours across the ditch and the way Maoris are integrated into the soul of New Zealand. The more us immigrants can join with the original indigenous inhabitants of this country and merge our differences into a single identifiable Australian national culture the better we will be as a nation.
- Adam Goodes
- Eddie Betts
- Tim Dick’s SMH article re Goodes war dance incident
- The Final Quarter , a documentary about the war dance incident
- Alan Tudge, a colonials view of school curriculum
P.S. Will my mate still be my mate after reading this, I hope so but we will see.