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Opinion

Shut up and play footy: Why do we take down players who stand against racism?

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Roar Guru
10th February, 2021
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2548 Reads

Fox Footy ran a story titled “Heritier Lumumba listed his nickname as ‘chimp’ in AFL Record” – a clickbait article which looked as if it had been intentionally devised to drive anti-Lumumba sentiment in the wake of the damning Collingwood report and subsequent fall of Eddie McGuire.

It’s the Adam Goodes saga all over again. It’s Nicky Winmar. Why does it keeping happening?

It’s easy to be high and mighty and say we are a racist country.

There is certainly history – for example, I had no idea until recently, that Carlton great Syd Jackson was part of the stolen generation, as well as numerous accounts of someone’s race being used against them on the field or from the stands over a long period.

As much as many of us would like to put our heads in the sand, that racist element is still prevalent. It will be for a long time.

There is another factor at play too. Australians like people to follow our steady institutions, and as much as we like to think we love a rebel, we hate people who rock the boat.

The AFL is definitely an institution, an organisation that can infiltrate schools and clubs throughout the land.

We rely on AFL for fun, excitement, exercise, mutual conversation with friends.

We even define people by the team they follow.

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So when someone shakes this up and calls out something we don’t like, the Australian culture is to make sure we collectively take them apart, like a swarm of wasps on a carcass.

The problem is, when someone calls out a race issue, the shock jocks, and the dinosaurs who are in the system end up at the head of the swarm, and the institution follows.

How many of you saw the Fox Footy article and decided Lumumba was full of shit, without reading?

The reality is, every time we attack like this, we end up the worse for it. We lose the chance to gain a bit of Australian-ness that we long for.

Kids who struggle with racism have their self-worth stripped a little bit more. Yet time and time again, these people speaking out are proven to be right.

It’s high time the leaders in the AFL stop leading the swarm and listen to the change-makers.

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