An Open Letter to White Australia about Adam Goodes. 

Listen up, White Australia! This strong, proud, Aboriginal woman has something to say about the Adam Goodes saga, and I feel that what I have to say is of value, for you to ponder as you go about your daily lives. It’s about racism. I know this shit gets uncomfortable for ya’ll but it’s important for me to say and for you to hear. 

This whole discussion around racism, I have a fundamental problem with. Currently, there is a debate about what does and does not constitute racism. But who gets to decide what is and isn’t racist? Who gets to make that call? I’m going to make this clear right here and right now; White Australia does not get to decide what is and (more importantly) isnt, racist. 

If an oppressed, minority group of people says it hurts, then it hurts. If an oppressed, minority group of people says it’s racist, then it’s racist. In the wise words of a good (White) friend of mine: if you have an opinion about whether or not the booing of Adam Goodes is racist, and you haven’t sought the opinion of Aboriginal Australia, then you need to stop. The fact is, that we, the oppressed group in question, are experts in our own lived experience of systematic racism and oppression. We’ve got this, we don’t need your help. 

I don’t believe that every single one-eyed football fan that has booed Adam Goodes is, fundamentally, a racist. But I’m gonna lay this out: racist booing, and booing with no racist intent; sounds the same. And therefore, is construed the same. And as the oppressed, minority that is affected gets to decide if it hurts and if it’s racist, then that’s how it is. Racist booing and non-racist booing are both construed as racist; all booing of Indigenous People in this context, is therefore considered to be racist. 

But let’s go back to what this is really about. Adam Goodes has challenged White Australia and White Australia doesn’t like this. Adam Goodes has called out racism, and White People feel challenged and affronted by that. Those “3 D’s” come out to play – the three most damaging ways that White Australia respond to discussion of race, racism, privilege and oppression: Dismissiveness, Defensiveness and Derision. I would suggest that the relentless booing of Adam Goodes is a Derisive response to being challenged about racism. 

Anyone who calls this man a sook, or suggest he “get over it” or “get on with it” needs to carefully examine whether they themselves have been subject to systematic racism and oppression and relentlessly targeted with by overt racist bullying and “gotten over it”. This doesn’t even begin to consider the fact that he is entitled to a safe work place free of racist bullying. So unless you’ve had his lived experience of racism and oppression, I strongly suggest you sit back down. At the very least this is bullying; and it’s ugly and vile. 

The one positive that comes out of issues such as this is that it’s starts a national conversation that needs to be had. White Australia needs to feel uncomfortable to be able to move past it. White Australia needs to fill in the blanks of our white-washed education system. But mostly, White Australia just needs to stop and listen. 

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4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to White Australia about Adam Goodes. 

  1. YES. I just read your blog Liz. This is the comment I posted earlier today on Cosi’s page. ( not that I follow him but a friend liked his post and up it came on my FB feed.) “Why can’t we just cheer good play from either side and forget the booing altogether? OK OK I will get real. However I don’t think you can judge people or tell them how to feel if you haven’t walked in their shoes. For Adam that girl’s comment was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back after a lifetime of taunts etc, and for HIM it felt racist. There is so much tension and aggression in those football games with everyone pumped up to win that sometimes bad reactive decisions are made eg spear tackles, head high tackles, punches thrown etc. The good that has come of this is that people are now debating racist attitudes and for too long this ugly truth has been brushed over in denial.” What I didn’t write was … I think the saddest thing that has come out of this is just how many people are racist…and finding out which friends are…

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  2. That’s absolutely true! It’s so disheartening to discover that friends are perpetuating racist ideas and ideals. I try to live by the motto: ‘the standard that you walk past is the standard you accept’ and that inaction is complicity but gosh it’s easier to just walk past and say nothing.

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    • Hah! That may well be true but we need to bear in mind the power that our words have. To a white man, being called an ape might not necessarily be particularly offensive but for an Aboriginal man, who’s lived experience of racism, who’s parents have memory of pre-1967 and being classed sub human under the Flora and Fauna act, being called an ape, something less than human, could be really damaging.

      But yeah those mouthguards aren’t doing anyone any favours are they?!!!

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