Adam Goodes, an Indigenous footballer, has recently announced he was taking time off from football for mental health reasons after last weekend’s continuous booing from the crowd. A couple fans were ejected from the game and one was singled out after having made the comment ‘go back to the zoo’ towards Goodes. Two years ago, Goodes singled out a 13-year old girl at the footy after she called him an ape, so this zoo comment was in reference to that.
The person who made the comment said he was humiliated and felt like he was treated like a criminal for his remarks, which he didn’t think were in the least bit racist or directed at Goodes. The person who (decided to stand up against racism) informed security of his comments was later verbally abused by the crowd for dobbing and ended up leaving the game.
Goodes is a proud Indigenous footballer and he’s copped a few racism remarks over the years including ‘ape’, ‘go back to the zoo’ and ‘he could be used to promote the musical King Kong’, which was said by big name football president (Eddie Maguire). He’s stood up against all these comments, which obviously led to media coverage over racism. During Indigenous round this year, where the entire AFL celebrates Indigenous heritage and culture, Goodes celebrated a goal with an Indigenous war cry dance that involved the action of throwing an imaginary spear. Apparently, many people were offended, intimidated and frightened of this imaginary spear, saying it was inappropriate - even though it was Indigenous round! They’re all for celebrating Indigenous round, but just don’t want it rubbed in their faces!
My vent is about the reactions of the public and those around me. Whenever I see a facebook article about the issue, I like to read the comments to see where society stands. Sadly, more than three quarter of the comments every time were people calling him a sook, telling him to grow up, to brush it off, to not make such a big deal, that he is a baby, that calling out a 13-year old on a racist comment is bullying, is an attention seeker, etc. People who’ve never been on the receiving end of racism are saying that he is making a big deal out of nothing and in doing so, is escalating the issue further (which is the point but they don’t see it like that).
The AFL even came out and have asked the crowds not to boo him, because doing so would be considered racist. You know what the response to this was? People said that if you tell kids not to do something, they will do the opposite! But we aren’t dealing with kids here. We’re dealing with grown adults who should know better, and if Goodes didn’t take time off, I’m betting most would still boo him, just because the AFL said they shouldn’t. Adults are actually worse than kids.
People even justify their reactions by saying their reactions aren’t racist, but that they just don’t like him for those above reasons. They say that it’s not racism, because they’re not treating every other Indigenous player like this. Not every other Indigenous player has been directly racially abused or is brave enough to stand up to racism because this is the sort of public reactions that develop. Sort of like how people make racist comments but don’t see themselves as racist because they have a non-white friend. Sometimes my workmates will say something really racist, but then defend it by saying, but I don’t see you as Chinese (because I’m quite Aussie) or I have plenty of Chinese friends :\
They say that Goodes has brought the booing upon himself and deserves it. That he’s made a non-issue a racist one and that he continues to play the race card by bringing it up with the media. Too many people have the attitude of ‘just ignore the problem and it will eventually go away’ rather than addressing the issue to prevent it from happening. We seem to have this attitude of blaming the victim for apparently getting them self into the situation. It’s like Goodes must attract racist comments or something ridiculous like that. They suggest he suck it up, harden up and get on with footy (instead of continuing to bring up the very real issue of racism that’s affecting his mental health). I’m not even going to start on the public’s reaction to his supposed ‘mental health’, because we already know about the stigma surrounding mental health disorders.
Just earlier tonight, a workmate that I always talk footy with was saying how she lost all respect for Goodes when he called out the 13-year old girl for calling him an ape. I didn’t have time to interject because we were starting a work meeting, but I was thinking, why??? Why are people thinking like this? At 13, I knew what racism was and that racist comments were inappropriate. I knew the difference between right and wrong. Sure, you can say, she’s just a kid, who probably doesn’t know what racism even is, but her comments are a reflection of society! And that’s why Goodes pointed it out, not to vilify and condemn her, but to raise the issue that if our younger generation think it’s okay to racially abuse others, then there’s something wrong with society.
It just makes me sad that so many people (including the ones I work with) have this attitude towards racism. I mean, their land was invaded, overtaken, children were taken from parents, many were killed and despite government efforts to close the gap between health and life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, there’s still a massive gap. Racism still obviously exists!
Society is going backwards.
On a positive note, my bro does see it as racism and is on my side with this topic.