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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marn_Grook)
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: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2015/jul/31/australia-please-join-me-in-the-kitchen-its-time-for-an-intervention
"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: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/30/i-can-tell-you-how-adam-goodes-feels-every-indigenous-person-has-felt-it
"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: http://kazblah.com/2015/07/29/goodes-treatment-a-problem-for-us-all/
"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: http://www.sydneyswans.com.au/news/2015-08-01/andrew-pridhams-speech
"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: http://www.sarahwilson.com/2015/07/an-overview-of-why-i-think-adam-goodes-holds-a-mirror-up-to-us/
"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?"