Saturday, 1 August 2015

Shame & Solidarity.

The Adelaide Crows play the Sydney Swans today. 

Sadly, Swans star and Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes will not be playing due to a disgusting and sustained bullying campaign by some football followers against him. 

(I refuse to call these people  'football supporters' because they are not supporting the game or the players in any way by being abusive.)

Why is Adam Goodes being bullied? Because he was brave enough to take a stand against racism and demand respect for the Indigenous people of Australia and Torres Strait Islands.  

The catalyst was a spectator who called out a racist slur during the "Indigenous Round" of the football season–a time for celebrating the talents and contributions of Indigenous people to Australian Rules Football*–and Adam Goodes singled out the offender in the crowd to point out the prevalence of discrimination in this country.

Since Adam Goodes' action, football crowds have been systematically booing and abusing Adam Goodes wherever he goes, including the footy field.  I am proud to say that I am not a part of that and never will be.  I dislike booing in general because it is just not sporting and spoils the fun of games but recent behaviour has taken it to a whole new personal, hurtful level.

The excuses from the perpetrators have been pathetic. Adam Goodes has exposed an undercurrent of discrimination in Australian society today.  It isn't just Indigenous people being discriminated against, but any social minority; e.g. people with disabilities, those with mental illness, ethnic and religious groups, etc. that tries to stand up for the human rights to be respected and treated fairly.

The trend seems to be "blame the victim" and I am hearing it in some of the public responses to Adam Goodes' actions. For example:
"He brought it on himself."
"He's over-reacting. He's a sook and a whinger."

It also goes on in other sectors of society:
"She's just bitter about her disability" (In fact she is angry about discrimination in the workplace and inadequate support services).
"That's just mental illness talking." (In other words, "We don't want to take this person seriously because it will reflect badly on us.")
"All  (insert ethnic or religious group here) people are like that." (Dismissive generalisation that disrespects individual differences.)

When someone points out the discrimination and shows it up for what it is, there are those who don't want to confront the issue(s) because that would mean they have to admit that they might be part of the problem which then requires them to take responsibility for that problem and actually change something about themselves, e.g. re-assessing their personal values, changing their behaviours, lose some power or social equity.  

This is confronting to many.  People can be creatures of habit that resist change. Those with power do not like having their status quo challenged for fear of losing it.  It is easier to turn the spotlight back onto the complainant than face up to the issues or risk losing social advantage.

When you hear some of the arguments put forward for booing Adam Goodes, imagine they are being said to other people in society, e.g. the colleague experiencing bullying in the workplace,  the person living with a disability or other chronic illness, the person from a different cultural background and see how well these same arguments fit.

You can bet your last dollar that people from these other social groups have also had the same or similar treatment doled out to them to devastating effect, except they do not have the influence of a high public profile like Adam Goodes.

Nobody deserves to be bullied and abused, not even those who live their lives in the public eye.  They are people with feelings and families to support and lives to lead.  No one is immune to the damage done by constant discrimination.

Recent displays of discrimination in Australia have shown how many cowardly people there are, too scared to face up to the fact that they are part (or likely the cause) of the problem, and I am ashamed to live in a country where people 'blame the victim' instead of addressing the problem and looking at their own attitudes and behaviour.

I refuse to be a bystander and allow it to go on, (bystanders are as bad as the bullies) hence my attempt here to make people think about how we can make our society more inclusive and fair to everyone. 

It is time to respect each other and not just tolerate but celebrate our differences.  What a boring, narrow-minded society we would have if everybody was the same! There is so much we can learn from each other.

I implore you, in your daily life, to have the courage to leave your comfort zone. 

Consider your own attitudes to diversity in society and how your behaviour can make a difference for the better.

We need to help each other, not hurt;
to makes a stronger, happier, better society.

That's why Adam Goodes is
Australian of the Year.

It is heartening to see this public display in Adelaide this week.
This patchwork blanket depicting the Australian Aboriginal flag was created by knitters and crocheters of Adelaide for Reconciliation Week and to commemorate Sorry Day 2015.

*There is evidence to suggest that Aussie Rules developed  from an Indigenous Australian game called 'Marngrook'.
(Wikipedia, "Marn Grook" 13 June 2015:

Author's Note

I thought very carefully about whether to comment about this topic on my crochet blog.  I do not want to "add fuel to the fire" of controversial affairs. I do not want this blog to be political.

I do want my blog to inspire people with their creativity and create friendly connections between people.

I write about crochet and I am sure it is no coincidence that the yarncrafted patchwork banner came out on display this week. Crochet, health, football, friendship and support. These are all topics on my blog and all of these ideas are in this post.

My family did not want me to discuss the topic for fear that I might become a target for abuse and they are concerned for my safety. Isn't that sad?  In a supposedly 'free country' that proclaims 'multiculturalism' and 'harmony'? 

If I do nothing, then I am a 'silent bystander' and that is just as hurtful as bullying itself. 

I cannot stand by and do nothing. 

Other articles related to this topic

First Dog on the Moon, "Australia, Please Join Me in the Kitchen. It's Time for an Intervention", The Guardian, 31 July 2015:
"We don't even know you anymore Australia." 

Grant, Stan, "I Can Tell You How Adam Goodes Feels. Every Indigenous Person Has Felt It.", The Guardian, 30 July 2015: 
"It may not be what you want to hear. Australians are proud of their tolerance yet can be perplexed when challenged on race, their response often defensive."

Kazblah, "Goodes' Treatment a Problem for Us All", Kazblah. A Look at the Funny Side of Sport. Mostly., 29 July 2015:
"In Adam Goodes, Rosie Batty and Patrick McGorry, we have had Australians of the Year prepared to shine a light in dark places. … Don’t tell him to harden up. How about you grow up. As for the rest of us, we can’t just say this is a problem for the AFL. It’s a problem for all of us. Our actions shape our society." 

Pridham, Andrew, Chairman, Sydney Swans Football Club, "Pre-game Speech to Supporters", 1 August 2015:
"Adam did not choose any of this to happen to him. … Adam has achieved great things – and today we have seen he has shaken the nation’s conscience. … Adam Goodes has been booed relentlessly because he’s Aboriginal and because he’s had the courage to stand and speak about matters close to his heart. … Some say that it’s political correctness gone mad, it’s not political correctness, it’s just correctness. It’s just decency." 

Wilson, Sarah, "An Overview of Why I Think Adam Goodes Holds a Mirror up to Us", I Quit Sugar, 31 July 2015:
"For anyone who is truly outraged about the idea of Australia being labelled racist, I invite you to ask whether you’re equally outraged by the appalling gap in life expectancy for indigenous people? Or by the massive over-representation of indigenous people in jail? Or the continuing scourge of deaths in custody? I also invite you to ask, is the real issue here that Goodes has made us all feel uncomfortable?" 


  1. I applaud you for writing about this. It's funny, I don't think about your blog as a crocheting blog - I think about it as a blog about you and your life - and this post is personal and powerful. I am surprised by the fans response to his brave stance. I would like to think that wouldn't happen to one of our football players if he spoke out in such a way, but the human race can disappoint at times. Thank you for sharing Adam Goode's story - I will continue to follow it via the world wide web.

    1. Thank you Mary-Anne for your support. I'd like to think the perpetrators (whether knowingly or unwittingly) and the abusers (such as the examples on Sarah Wilson's article) are a noisy minority. Andrew Pridham's speech today was excellent. I was heartened today to see so much support for Adam Goodes with anti-racism sentiment outwardly displayed and expressed.

      Some football teams chose to wear their guernseys decorated with Indigenous designs. Other Indigenous players performed celebratory dances on kicking goals. Adam Goodes' player number is 37. At the game today (a full house at the Sydney Cricket Ground) supporters spontaneously applauded for an entire minute at the 7 minute mark of the 3rd quarter to show their support and I was pleased to watch the game to hear the cheers drown out any boos that may have been uttered (if anyone dared).

      One of the junior football teams wore red and white 37s on the shoulders of their uniforms and when interviewed on television a young boy was able to beautifully articulate why they were wearing the number, why bullying was wrong and what people should be doing instead. Another young girl (non-Indigenous by the way) was helped by Adam Goodes in a fundraiser was interviewed and she too spoke up about his excellent character and her support for him.

      How pathetic those racist bullies are, having to be shamed by being told how to behave by our youth! It also shows up the ignorance of people. If a child as young as 6 or 7 years old can get the message, why can't so many adults?

      Anyway, I am rambling now. I am so glad that so many people stood up to show their support and pray that people can show the same courage in other areas of life too. "Walk the walk", as well as "talk the talk"

      I was worried about the possibility that Lupey Loops may get inundated with the types of ignorant comments that Sarah Wilson received (thus proving her points about racism) so I appreciate your comments very much. Thank you! xxx

  2. Your post is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and true. Australia is not the only country with this problem; racism lives in any country, both subtly and overtly. To believe it's "Not my problem" is naive at best and dangerous. Inclusion is not something we do, or something we vote on occasionally, it is a way of being. We either include or we exclude. There is no room for in-between. I applaud you for including this on your blog. We write about our every day experiences, or most of us do. Goodness is not found in the grand gesture, but in the daily choices and actions we take. I'm glad you chose to speak up here.

    1. Thank you Sarah for bringing a worldly perspective (it doesn't only happen in Australia) and at the same time a personal perspective by explaining how each of us plays a part in the world we live in to be the change we want to see. Your practical suggestions are most appreciated. Thank you! xxx

  3. Well said, Jodie. As you know, I share your thoughts and feelings on this issue. We need to take a stand or lose the country we love.

    1. Thank you Cheryl for your unfailing support. I must admit that I was beginning to fall out of love with my country this month when influential broadcasters choose to fuel the emotive racist arguments while failing to educate but giving air time to misinformed ignorant loudmouths without challenge. Everyone can have an opinion, yet I feel that broadcasters should have the responsibility to separate fact from fiction and challenge those whose statements are ill-founded or just plain wrong. For example, one might have the opinion that 1+1=3 yet their opinion doesn't change the fact that the logic is wrong. The arrogance of denying such a fact is stunning but that is akin to what I have heard on radio in recent weeks.
      Thank you for having the courage to comment on such a controversial subject. Love always xxx

  4. A very thoughtful post. I haven't followed the discussion but it sounds horrible!

    Take care Anne
    Crochet Between Worlds

    1. "No pain, no gain" some people say. I am hoping that this painful episode has at last publicly defined what is and isn't acceptable in today's society. If people did not know or understand how recent bullying behaviour towards Adam Goodes is racist, the message has been made loud and clear now. (See Andrew Pridham's speech and Stan Grant's story). My only worry is that the people who really need to read and listen to these messages, probably won't.
      I hope that the positive messages outweigh the negative ones to give Australians a 'wake-up call' about discrimination and inequity in our society.
      Thanks for the feedback, Anne. I hope you are well :-)

  5. Adam Goodes just announced his retirement from AFL football after the Sydney Swans' last game for Season 2015. So many people who have met this courageous man describe his integrity and kindness. I am sad and disappointed about the harassment he received this year.

    A champion of the game and Australian of the Year deserves far better than that. I am certain that Adam Goodes has "bigger fish to fry" and that the best is yet to come for him in his life.

    Congratulations Adam Goodes on a remarkable football career - 2 Brownlow medals, 4 All-Australian team selections and 18 years with the Sydney Swans - a stellar performer. May he have every success in life after footy.