Racism is another word which has people’s heads shaking, we are all guilty of this as well, some intentionally, some in playground fights. As children we repeat words heard from older people. I remember when “wog” was a terrible thing to say, but it was said anyway and certainly not by my parents, I heard things in the school playground, whilst travelling on trains and at other schools where we travelled to play sport. Now there is actually a really funny stage show in Australia called “Wogs at Work” written, directed and acted by Italians taking the mickey out of themselves and Australians.
As Australians we can laugh at ourselves and others and we do this well. We are also good at apologising and moving on (most of the people I associate with) This week we have seen terrible instances of racism the worst of it’s kind being the terrible murder in England of a young soldier and father, there are no words here that can ever make this ok. The other one which has my head shaking is the Adam Goodes football incident.
For fear I am going to be bombarded I will write this, my first question I ask myself “do you think he would have done it if he had known it was a 13 year old girl?” I wonder if he thought upon hearing the word he was hoping it would have been a 40 yr old Male? I also wonder if the global media punishment fitted the crime? Him yelling and pointing her out, getting security involved, having the Australian public watch (with horror) as not 1 but 3 security people escorted her out of the grounds. Now lets talk about those people who abused HER as she was unceremoniously walked out of the ground from a night football match. She took nothing with her and no one went with her, did they make her safe? was she given a phone to call her mother or adult person in her life to come get her and protect her?
He is after all a grown man, I wonder what he would have done as a father if he found out his 13 year daughter was publicly humiliated, verbally abused and then deposited outside a very large sporting arena with no money, phone or support. I can imagine, as a mother I think this is worse than the word she used. (here is where I expect verbal berating) I do not excuse her behaviour but as I said did the punishment fit the crime? there was no ‘n’ word no ‘c’ word not even the ‘f’ word was used here.
I agree the word ‘ape’ can be used as a derogatory term, but really?? There was no reference to his skin colour, his heritage nor his ability as a player. From where I sat (watching the game on TV) his performance as a player was not questioned, he was the star on the field on the night, probably the entire round. (except from my armchair I now think he overreacted and it is cringe worthy watching the replay). But we watched as he yelled and pointed out this young girl and we watched (me in horror) as she was escorted out of the stadium and then we watched as he chose not to take part in the end of game celebrations. These were choices he made himself on the backs of this action. But I stress here HIS choices, no one said he couldn’t join in, he couldn’t celebrate.
The young girl, admitted in the eyes of the media, she didn’t know ‘ape’ was a racist term, she just said it as her favourite team was losing. I can imagine there were adults there at that game that would have said a lot worse, just not in ear shot of one of Australia’s favourite indigenous players at the ‘Dreamtime’ round. I saw the presidents from the opposition team (the one which the girl was a supporter of) go to the rooms and shake his hand, I heard commentators talk about it, I saw endless reruns of the incident yet I didn’t see anyone shielding her. (she is only 13)
It was unfortunate I do not think it was ok, that she called him an ‘ape’ but what I wanted to see was the adults standing up for this young girl on the night. I can only hope TV coverage has moved on and I don’t get to see it again. We do not know her family structure or circumstance but she was forced to leave at night on her own. Thankfully there was someone there (the next day) that got her to call this player and apologise to him and we got to hear her tell us she didn’t know the term was racist. I wonder if he apologise to her for the consequence of his actions, he accepted her apology and explained why it affected so much and he then asked everyone to leave her alone. FINALLY.