Why are people booing Adam Goodes?
July 31, 2015 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes is an Australian Rules football (AFL) player, two times winner of the highest individual award for the fairest and best player, as well as playing in two premiership winning games over his eighteen year career with the Sydney Swans. He works with indigenous youth in detention and co-chairs a foundation (with Michael O'Loughlin) working to empower the next generation of indigenous mentors. Goodes is a former Australian of the Year (2014) who recently said that "If people only remember me for my football, I've failed in life." So why are people booing Adam Goodes?

Racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players has never not existed in AFL. In 1993, after enduring particularly vicious abuse from an opposing team's cheer squad, Aboriginal player Nicky Winmar lifted his shirt to show he is proud of his black skin. Some years later, television host Sam Newman appeared on The Footy Show in blackface after Winmar cancelled an appearance that night.

In 2013, when a spectator called Adam Goodes an ape during a match, Goodes stopped play and called for security to evict the spectator only to discover later it was a 13yr old girl. Goodes was pretty gutted by the abuse but wanted support for the girl, "I guarantee she has no idea right now how it makes people feel to call them an ape."

Booing Goodes became common and in June 2015 Goodes responded by performing the moves of Australia's first sports war-cry dance (Previously).

This week, Goodes took an indefinite break from playing due to distress caused by the booing. This lead to a top rating commentator to claim that Goodes was "playing the victim".

See also:
Stan Grant: I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it.
There is no means test to suffering. You don’t grow out of it because you get a better job. You don’t throw off the shackles of history that easily.
Celeste Liddle: So an imaginary spear is more terrifying than racism. Really?
Apparently Goodes needs to change his “on field theatrics”. He should warn the crowd before he does such things. He is being too sensitive, boos are part of the game.
So why are people booing Adam Goodes? #2
The challenger, conversely, does not let racism slide. The challenger sees racism as endemic. He does not go along to get along, and often has an angry edge.
Waleed Aly on Adam Goodes.
Australia is generally a very tolerant society until its minorities demonstrate that they don't know their place.
posted by Thella (75 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for putting together such an insightful post, Thella. I am distressed and horrified but some of the reactions and commentary from such luminaries as Alan Jones (but seriously, what do you expect from that crotchety old reptile...). Australians need to face the fact that this is a real issue- and that the white folk don't get to decide how indigenous folk should feel about what is obviously racism through and through. Demanding that Goodes apologise for the whole thing? Geez!!

As always.. First Dog On The Moon hits the nail right on the head: Why Do You Boo Adam Goodes? Is It Because...
posted by Philby at 5:19 AM on July 31, 2015 [14 favorites]




There's so much 'not all whites' going on it's almost laughable. Particularly since those comments are interspersed with people making jokes about corroborees and spears and shit like that. I just hope there's enough people willing to drown out the boos at the next game he's in. And I really hope he plays again. What a shithouse way for an amazing career to end.
posted by h00py at 5:39 AM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there a corollary to Betteridge's Law that says if a headline asks "Why...?" the answer will be "Racism"? Because it's starting to look like there should be.
posted by Etrigan at 5:42 AM on July 31, 2015 [11 favorites]


Shit like this makes me so embarrassed to be Australian. It's a fucking outrage, and the amount of oxygen given to NON INDIGENOUS people - mostly old white males, the least discriminated against demographic ever - shits me to tears. These fuckers have never been victims in their lives. The attempt to whitewash Goodes, to pretend he is not black, and doesn't move in a white world that is afraid of blackness, is outrageous. You cannot excise race from this conversation. Goodes is not, but he could be the biggest prick to pick up a football, and the booing would still be racist and wrong. Barry halls was actually a dickhead, and he never copped anywhere near this level of shit.

And I love the kids mum : is goodes fault my kids called him an ape, and she got kicked out . My kid is three, if she did that there would be Repercussions.
posted by smoke at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2015 [33 favorites]


Oh whoops- I'm sorry Thella, I only just realised as I was working my way through your links that you'd linked First Dog in your post! I'm just always (maybe over?) eager to share it!
posted by Philby at 6:01 AM on July 31, 2015


I guess "sooking" is throwing a tantrum?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:21 AM on July 31, 2015


Yeah, basically. See also whinging, playing the victim, etc. You're not supposed to complain when you're being constantly humiliated by large groups of people.
posted by h00py at 6:32 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep, I'm right there with ya, smoke. Stan Grant's piece upped him many notches in my estimation - a passionate and compelling statement of the indelible sting of racial prejudice.

I've really felt increasingly, deeply ashamed and saddened by my fellow Australians over this whole episode. This man should be a country-wide symbol of national pride, dammit! It's like every anxious, white crank is feeling increasingly empowered to walk 180 degrees from the hopes of Rudd's apology of not so many years ago. I wonder if the "war dance" is too painful a reminder to these cretins that there's a culture in their midst that's far more robustly defined than the flimsy definitions of "being Australian" that the non-indigenous here continue to desperately scrabble for.

Crikey had a great suggestion that I'm damn sure would have worked: As soon as the boos and racist taunts start, Goodes' teammates should walk off the field for 10 minutes. Each time it happens. Reckon that would cut it out pretty quickly (and far more effectively than the AFL's unsurprisingly pissweak response). A great pity that they've been robbed of an opportunity to show that kind of solidarity this weekend.
posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 6:33 AM on July 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


As smoke says, shit like this makes me embarrassed to be Australian.

I didn't inherit my mother's dark skin*, but I grew up with her stories of childhood on Sydney's Northern Beaches, in the ’50s, being chased home from school by kids calling her 'abo' and throwing rocks.

It seems like every day brings a fresh reminder that those other kids grew up too.

*of undetermined origin. My maternal grandparents were equal parts white and tight-lipped.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 6:33 AM on July 31, 2015 [21 favorites]


Waleed Aly absolutely nails it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:41 AM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Right now I'm embarrassed amd ashamed to be an Australian. We're all crying about poor cecil the lion, but no one in any position of authority is doing anything to shut the racists down. Like the Howard years, this Liberal government is giving the bigots free reign. This country is rotten to the core.

Waleed Aly and Stan Grant have blown me away with the way they've articulated things this week.
posted by prettypretty at 6:53 AM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just like pretty much all 'not all' arguments, just because you don't do it doesn't mean other people aren't. There are racist fuckwits out there and if you're honest you'll say that you know them and you've heard their shit at parties and bbqs and sporting events and pretty much everywhere, really.

If you're booing you're in line with the racist arseholes who really are booing because he did an indigenous dance. It doesn't matter, at this stage, what your excuse is.
posted by h00py at 6:55 AM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why is it that I think that individual Aussies are great and more than twelve of them are complete shits? Is there that much evidence of this? I know several Aussies, they're great people, I'd catch a bullet for them, and then this shit keeps happening.

You guys are like America Squared. Brilliant in some ways, and complete fuckheads in others. The only reason you're not the nightmare than the US is on the world is that there aren't that many of you.

God.

It's fucking England's fault, isn't it? I mean, really, they imbued us with their worst traits, and went "Woah, you guys are too serious", and tossed out out over the ocean, and that's what we got, the US and Australia.

Fucking limeys.
posted by eriko at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I too have been embarrassed and ashamed in Australia at this whole issue. The worst thing is that even if racism WASN'T the issue (which it is) - there are that many people saying that Adam Goodes is being a wuss and a sook for being so affected by this. I'm gobsmacked by this.

I've been performing in my field for the same amount of time he's played football (15 years) - and just one time if I went out on stage and got boo-ed at - I would certainly have a nervous breakdown. Regardless of the reason.

The same people are also saying that boo-ing is perfectly acceptable culture, and that everyone gets boo-ed at some stage, so get over it.

How unsportsmanlike this is in a country that values sports over pretty much anything else - the mind boggles. How the bullying and harassment isn't being addressed, let alone the racism - it makes me sad about the state of our people and country.
posted by shazzam! at 7:00 AM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I recall hearing Goode's response to the girl and just being stunned by his compassion and leadership. Make no mistake: that's also what he's hated for.
posted by hawthorne at 7:07 AM on July 31, 2015 [20 favorites]


I've really felt increasingly, deeply ashamed and saddened by my fellow Australians over this whole episode.

I pretty much gave up on the majority of my compatriots ten years ago, after polling revealed that two thirds of us support the arbitrary detention of "terrorist suspects", without charge, in secret. The recent polling on boat turnbacks (apparently 60% of us are fine with desperate people dying, as long as they don't have the poor taste to do so near our coastline) has reaffirmed my view that most of the people with whom I share the country of my birth are, fundamentally, utter dickheads.

I am not ashamed to be Australian; I didn't choose where to get born. I am, however, repelled and disgusted by these attitudes. And the chaff bag Alan Jones recommended for use on Julia Gillard is waiting for him out the back of my place, should he ever poke his revolting self-satisfied nose through my front door.

By the way, when speaking of Jones, Bolt and their ilk, please don't call them "crotchety", which has a slight whiff of the endearing. These are evil, unprincipled, hypocritical pricks, no more and no less, and anybody who finds them even slightly endearing needs to take a good hard look at themselves.
posted by flabdablet at 7:10 AM on July 31, 2015 [28 favorites]


Australia is generally a very tolerant society until its minorities demonstrate that they don't know their place.

This is pretty much the problem in a nutshell. 71 indigenous players in the AFL, none of them get booed until one of them stands up to racist bullshit. Then a sustained campaign of hate against that person that wouldn't be seen if they were white.
posted by Talez at 7:12 AM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm sure all the people booing would just let it roll off their backs if a crowd of people booed them for being racists.

"But! But! It's political correctness gone m-"

SHUT UP WE'RE NOT BOOING YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE A RACIST, WE'RE JUST DOING IT FOR FUN IT'S A FREE COUNTRY DON'T BE A WHINY RACIST BABY. BOOO!
posted by straight at 7:13 AM on July 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


If the Sydney Swans were half smart they'd get Goodes to teach them all that war dance, and then cease play and deploy it in the direction of the next fuckwit that boos.
posted by flabdablet at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2015 [16 favorites]


The mom says her kid didn't know calling him an "ape" was offensive! I find that doubtful*, but even if true didn't her mom teach her that calling people names was wrong?

(You can't boo the boo-ers that just adds more boo-ing. What's the opposite of a boo? something fun and happy and positive to drown them out? - at least i hope there are enough people to drown them out.)
posted by vespabelle at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's the opposite of a boo?

Rabbit punch to the side of the head from the spectator in the next seat would satisfy me.
posted by flabdablet at 7:19 AM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you want to make somebody really angry, just bring their value system into question. That's why minority people who "know their place," and hence are compatible with a bigot's value system, aren't hated as much as those who act contrary to a negative stereotype.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:23 AM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


What's the opposite of a boo?

A Boo-urns, clearly.
posted by Etrigan at 7:32 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would yay loudly if I was there. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! As loud as I possibly could.
posted by h00py at 7:34 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


#NotAllAusies

But damn, a lot of them. I remember studying in Australia in 2000, hearing this song playing on the radio. I asked some locals if it was serious or, like... what? I didn't get how it'd be possible to play a song like that on the radio. They had no idea what the problem was. This was in 2000! Also, tons of anti-Chinese graffiti everywhere. Maybe it's gotten better since then, though. Many, many very kind and thoughtful Australians. But man the unapologetic racism was way unexpected for this naive little pup when I was there.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:51 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just went hunting for an online version of the "Who Do You Think You Are?" that he was in. Which was excellent if terribly, terribly sad, and do watch it if you can get your hands on a copy. I accidentally stumbled onto a message board discussing "Adam Goodes: Who do you think you are!?". It was foul.
posted by kjs4 at 7:55 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The mom says her kid didn't know calling him an "ape" was offensive! I find that doubtful.

The mother also said her daughter had only turned 13 five days beforehand. She was technically still 12.

Likely, both statements are equally true. "She just called him an ape. That's technically not offensive."
posted by layceepee at 8:00 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


No discussion would be complete without noting Andrew Bolt's valuable contribution on the issue.

The mom says her kid didn't know calling him an "ape" was offensive!

To you want to appear dense, or a racist and a liar? A conundrum that, sadly, far too many Aussies face on a daily basis.
posted by kithrater at 8:06 AM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


TISM also questioned this: What Are Ya?
posted by h00py at 8:14 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shameful. I'm a 'foreigner' currently living in Australia, and I've found the level of acceptance of racism and sexism here staggering.
posted by flippant at 8:17 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]




The mom says her kid didn't know calling him an "ape" was offensive!

When I was nine, (white) me called a (black) girl in my class "nigger". I had no idea what it meant, and it wasn't a word I would have heard at home (at least in those years; that might have changed more recently -- thanks Fox News!). I clearly had some idea to whom the epithet was customarily applied, and I knew for certain that it was a bad thing to say. The girl (thank goodness) told the teacher, I got a stern talking to, and I ended up making an embarrassed apology.

What I'm trying to say is that this thirteen-year-old may not have understand *how* or *why* the word "ape" was offensive, but I'd put a large sum of money on her knowing *that* it was offensive.
posted by Slothrup at 8:36 AM on July 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh, man, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down". I was bewildered until I got to the third verse, then my jaw dropped.

So, anecdotes.
I visited Australia in 1993 to go to a conference in Hobart. Several colleagues and I were presenting a paper at a conference there. My closest peer and traveling companion was Lily, a brilliant human being and a strong black woman. I am a pretty mealy mouthed white woman, myself, and working and traveling with Lily was an education in how to carry myself as a person. She was brilliant.

In Hobart she was almost the only black person. And she was a bit of a celebrity in the hotel, recognized by most everybody. I went to the doorman one day to ask if he might have seen a woman wearing xxx and before I got past "I'm looking..." he knew just who I meant and that she had not come in yet.

One early morning, whilst we were jet lagged and window browsing the gift shops, Lily said good morning to a cleaner who vacuumed away in the opposite direction as if she hadn't heard. I, white, assumed she hadn't heard and moved on. No such thing for Lily. In a very friendly way, she moved into her line of sight and said good morning again, twice, and finally got one back. "I don't tolerate that stuff." Small victory, small piece of education for the cleaner and me both I think.

A larger slight was from a white South African woman who was part of a group that we fell in with and had several tours and meals with. She absolutely ignored Lily. Sat as far away as possible, avoided eye-contact, avoided friendly greetings, and looked uncomfortable the entire time Lily was around. It was obvious even to me. Lily did not call her on it, and I am not sure why. Perhaps it was too big a thing to be dealt as easily as the cleaner. This was about the time that South African Apartheid was ending and we talked about that some.

On a boat tour of the harbor we took shelter from the cold and found the SA woman in the lounge in a very friendly with the bartender, a black woman. This was absolutely bewildering to Lily. "Why will she talk to her and not to me?" "Because she's serving drinks and you are presenting a paper at a professional conference."

So, educational for Lily that time, but probably more so for me because I could see that woman's perspective, and I think that that means that I share some of it, which is scary and makes me realize how much work I have to do.

The last night there was a big dinner and at the end, at the last possible moment to make conversation, the woman leaned across about 4 other people and asked Lily, so awkwardly, so earnestly, how she enjoyed the conference, how had she liked the trip?
"Why would she do that after not talking to me for 5 days?" "Because she knows she's wrong. And she wants to change."

I don't know what the end of that story is. I am sorry to realize that such a lovely woman has deal with all that. It was an eye opener to me to see what little slights people have to put up with on a daily basis. It helped me see some of my own sub-conscious thought processes. Probably was good for the vacuum woman and the South African woman, too.

So yeah, travel is good.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:42 AM on July 31, 2015 [17 favorites]


"Tie Me Kangaroo Down". I was bewildered until I got to the third verse, then my jaw dropped.

Mine too, and that song was part of my childhood. Haven't listened to the thing for literally decades, but I have always had it in my mind that the verse in question was "Let me animals loose, Bruce"...

So either I've just edited it myself, or my parents did a really good job of singing loudly over the top of that bit whenever it came on the radio.

Actually it's only just now occurred to me to wonder why they did so reliably sing along to that particular Rolf Harris song but none of his others.
posted by flabdablet at 9:12 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unrelated, but: Harris was also convicted of sex crimes against young women.

I was just reading about this, and I really don't get how you can have some sports fans loving the shite out of the New Zealand All Blacks performing hakas before matches and then other sports fans booing this one dude for his post-goal celebrations. I doubt they're the same sports fans, but if they are, I'm totally flabbergasted.

As a non-Australian, I also have to wonder: Is also it Tall Poppy Syndrome? Or folks getting annoyed by the over-exuberant display because it's all braggadocio and not about good sports? (In addition to everything else mentioned above.)

And if it's just the exuberance and unsportsmanlike display, then all of these footie folks should have been booed, too. (Though, one did get a red card.)

We are too many years from events like Jackie Robinson's debut in American baseball for this sort of thing to continue happening.
posted by TrishaLynn at 9:42 AM on July 31, 2015


Harris was also convicted of sex crimes against young women

Keep me dick in me pants, Clance,
Keep me dick in me pants.
Don't let me take the chance, Clance,
Keep me dick in me pants.
posted by flabdablet at 10:55 AM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I really don't get how you can have some sports fans loving the shite out of the New Zealand All Blacks performing hakas before matches and then other sports fans booing this one dude for his post-goal celebrations.

Part of it is the thing about keeping the minorities in their place: the pre-match haka is clearly an organized part of the spectacle, and is therefore perceived as a quaint native dance rather than the ritual declaration of war that it actually is. Part of it is that the All Blacks are not, in fact, all black.

And part of it is the fact that the All Blacks are guests in our country, which means they're going to leave. We reserve our genuinely shitty treatment for minorities who have the unmitigated gall to want to live here.
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 AM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is informative. Harry Connick Jr meets a dumbfoundingly tasteless act on an Australian talent show. You will squirm.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Non-Australians should understand that the "talent show" in question was actually a parody segment within the larger and very long-running Hey Hey It's Saturday live variety show. The segment was called Red Faces, it was based loosely on the US Gong Show (complete with gong) and pushing excruciatingly, dumbfoundingly tasteless as far as it would go and then pushing it some more was pretty much its entire reason for existence. Squirming was the point.

That said: at the time that act first appeared, most Australians would indeed not have considered blackface, in and of itself, to be in any way objectionable; but by the time it had its second go-around with Harry Connick Jr, that had changed a fair bit.
posted by flabdablet at 1:09 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


The thing I don't get: Goodes has been playing for 18 years and is a top-flight player, right? Why now? This is like booing Jackie Robinson in his final year, or Jim Brown, instead of the very public, nasty first years Robinson and Brown went through (before they won MVPs and league titles).

Australia is a baffling country to me. In some ways, it feels 20 years ahead of America. In others, it's 60+ years behind.
posted by dw at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Squirming was the point.

Thanks for the context, flabbers
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:02 PM on July 31, 2015


Why now?

Because of his award of award of Australian of the year and its concomitant publicity which enabled him to talk honestly about race on a national platform, because of the "Ape" incident and his brave and no bullshit response to it, because of the "War dance" episode, all the stuff in the OP, basically.

Also, I believe because we have the most openly racist government in recent history, that thrives on dumbing down the discourse and encouraging the fearful and racist/sexist/everythingist Mr Hyde that lives in many Australians to run riot.
posted by smoke at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Australia is a baffling country to me. In some ways, it feels 20 years ahead of America. In others, it's 60+ years behind.

Which is also how the US looks to my British eyes, a lot of the time. An obvious point of speculation would be that the less well-established a complex group's social structures are, the more likely they are to throw up obvious contrasts, contradictions and paradoxes.
posted by howfar at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


We reserve our genuinely shitty treatment for minorities who have the unmitigated gall to want to live here.

Well put. He's clearly Un-Australian and should be deported.

For a bit of context, the soccer goalkeeper in question is not much of a celebrity outside of (Association) football which is not a big sport here. He is however, shamefully, typical of the reaction we've been seeing. The current government has also been banging the drum about deporting people for "terror" related offences lately.
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2015


A good portion of the discussion in Australia is highlighting, for me, the intersection between emotional labour and being not-white and/or a minority member. Goodes is expected to 'suck it up' ie: do the emotional labour of soothing both himself and his abusers 'cos complaining makes them feel bad.

I would really appreciate hearing from more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other non-whites like Stan Grant and Waleed Aly respectively about their anger and awareness of the ongoing embedding of racism. Australia desperately needs to have this conversation NOW particularly in light of the discussion about recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution, an event many many ATSI people Do Not Want.
posted by Thella at 4:07 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


devious truculent and unreliable : This is informative. Harry Connick Jr meets a dumbfoundingly tasteless act on an Australian talent show. You will squirm.
flabdablet: That said: at the time that act first appeared, most Australians would indeed not have considered blackface, in and of itself, to be in any way objectionable; but by the time it had its second go-around with Harry Connick Jr, that had changed a fair bit.

That was perhaps the weirdest thing about that incident. The near universal conviction that there was nothing wrong with the act. People were saying that we have no history of blackface in Australia, so to us this was just silly guys playing dress-ups, and therefore anyone complaining about it was just an overly PC whinger (or in modern terms, an SJW).

Problem is, that's an outright lie.

My mother grew up watching BBC's The Black and White Minstrel Show on the telly. It aired here until the show was cancelled in 1978. As a 34 year old, I have brothers who are old enough to remember watching it in their childhood. We've had minstrel shows in Australia since at least 1850. Australia didn't even officially become federated until 1901. This form of racism has been a part of our culture since before we were even a proper country!

It was playing in our theaters. It was playing on our TVs. Sometimes the jokes were slightly reworked so that material written about black Americans would instead be targeted at Indigenous Australians. The idea that we didn't know blackface was humiliating to black people is demonstrably false. We knew. We just didn't care. we became outraged because the criticisms were right and that just didn't fit our image of ourselves. It was cognitive dissonance on a national scale.

As many other commenters here have pointed out, and as Waleed Aly stated in the video posted by Thella in the OP, Australians by and large just don't want to face our own racism. As Aly said:

It's about the fact that Australia is generally a very tolerant society until it's minorities demonstrate that they don't know their place. And at that moment, the minute someone in a minority position acts as though they're not a mere supplicant, then we lose our minds.

We don't want to admit, despite the fact that we literally had a White Australia Policy on the books until 1973 (enforced to varying degrees until 1966), despite the fact that issues of Aboriginal Affairs were typically handled by the various departments of Flora and Fauna, and until the referendum of 1967 Aborigines weren't counted as part of the population for the purpose of representation in government, despite the fact that entire generations of children were stolen from their parents because of an assumption that Aboriginal families were an inherently abusive environment, that maybe, just maybe, there might be some lingering racism and issues of white supremacy in our society.

There seems to be a similar problem in other white-majority countries*. We've all internalised the fact that racism and bigotry are bad, but we haven't internalised what racism and bigotry are. We reason that since we know we're not bad, these things we do and say can't possibly be racist or bigoted.

And that leads to situations like this, were prominent news organisation's commentators unironically state that the celebratory spear dance performed by Aboriginal football players is a racial attack against white Australians while simultaneously claiming that the booing and jeers of "ape" and "get back to the zoo" are just good-hearted fun and non-whites need to lighten up.

* It may also happen in non-white majority countries in relation to their minorities, but due to the very different levels of cross-cultural saturation I only feel qualified to comment on issues in the UK/GB, USA, and Australasia.
posted by timd at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2015 [17 favorites]


He's clearly Un-Australian and should be deported.
Oh Goodness, wasn't that the most asinine thing?

I am reluctant to merge racism against Aboriginal people with Australian racism against newcomers. The two are different species of ugly.

Racism against Aboriginal people is not limited to white Australia. I've had a number of non-white international students refuse to house-share with me because I live on the side of town where Aboriginal people live. And racism against Aboriginal people cannot be escaped because it is there in their history, and in their family; in their way of being in the world and in their own 'country' if they are lucky enough to know their heritage after all the child stealing. Knowing that ancestors of their neighbours deliberately poisoned the water of their own ancestors, or took their land, women and children for slave labour or just benefited generation after generation from oppressing generations of Aboriginal people ... as they still do, and then to hear them say they are not racist? Talk about social gaslighting.

Aboriginal people deeply understand the irony of the saying "go back where you came from" and have a legitimate right to say it but rarely the power to have it heard.
posted by Thella at 6:15 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


we have the most openly racist government in recent history, that thrives on dumbing down the discourse and encouraging the fearful and racist/sexist/everythingist Mr Hyde that lives in many Australians to run riot.

Quoted for truth.

The only thing that's stopped me plunging into a black pit of depression since the landslide victory of the Abbott Government has been the quiet confidence that not even Murdoch and 2GB would end up being enough to save it from drowning in its own shittiness.

Because as well as having essentially no coherent policy beyond keeping the populace as frightened as possible, this pack of born-to-rule silvertails finds it very difficult to disguise its true attitude; and if there's one thing Australians despise more than an uppity black, it's being ripped off by condescending hypocrites with their snouts in the trough.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


fatfrank posted: The mother of a 13-year-old girl who called Adam Goodes an “ape” during the AFL’s Indigenous Round in 2013 has blamed him for the booing he continues to endure from AFL crowds.

Question about this article...is "carried on like a pork chop" a racist thing to say? Or is it just an awesome thing to say?
posted by mullacc at 9:03 PM on July 31, 2015


Question about this article...is "carried on like a pork chop" a racist thing to say? Or is it just an awesome thing to say?

Shortened version of 'To carry on like a pork chop at a Jewish wedding/synagogue.' Originally meaning to act out of place but now commonly meaning to draw attention to oneself by acting foolishly.
posted by Thella at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2015


Question about this article...is "carried on like a pork chop" a racist thing to say? Or is it just an awesome thing to say?

No, there's nothing's inherently racist about calling someone a pork chop. It's roughly equivalent to a diminutive or mild insult like 'fool'. But it's absolutely racist to call someone a pork chop because he spoke out about the racism directed against him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:11 PM on July 31, 2015


we have the most openly racist government in recent history

Yes we do. But racism against Aboriginal people has been going on for hundreds of years. This government (and its party predecessor) doesn't acknowledge it like the Rudd/Keating governments did, but all of them are complicit because we (non-indigenous Australians) are all complicit. The standard you walk by is the standard you accept, to quote David Cosgrove on sexism but it goes the same for any discrimination.
posted by Thella at 9:15 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The two are different species of ugly.

People I know personally who proudly put their anti-Aboriginal racism on display are the same ones eager to trot out weird and broken tirades against asylum seekers, Muslims and (to a decreasing extent in the past two decades) Asians. There may well be two different species of ugly operating there, but it's quite remarkable how often they operate within the same skulls.
posted by flabdablet at 9:20 PM on July 31, 2015


"I do think people shouldn't boo him at the football, they should be trying to encourage him to be a better person than what he is," Joanne said of the former Australian of the Year.

Andrew Wu, you legend.
posted by flabdablet at 9:25 PM on July 31, 2015


I was wrong. Goodes didn't call over the security in the situation with the teenage girl. Another post from Waleed Aly explaining how rewriting the past embeds racism.
posted by Thella at 9:29 PM on July 31, 2015


but it's quite remarkable how often they operate within the same skulls.

The obvious ones, yes. But there are a lot of racist people who keep it well under wraps. It's broken my heart the number of times I've made friends with a rural person, mostly farmers, only to discover that under the cover of familiarity they spit bile about Aboriginal people. There is a lot of de-humanising of Aboriginal people in some country-talk. Migrants and refugees are not given much thought but at least they are accorded personhood in conversation.
posted by Thella at 9:35 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Goodes didn't call over the security in the situation with the teenage girl.

And yet, if Andrew Wu's reportage is accurate, her mother clearly still blames him for it:
"It's all stemmed from what he did to Julia," Joanne told Fairfax Media. "If he hadn't have done it he wouldn't be having the problems he'd be having now.

"He probably should apologise because maybe he should have picked his target a little bit better.

"She'd only turned 13 five days beforehand. She was technically still 12. She had no idea what she was saying."

...

Joanne is still angered at how her daughter was treated by MCG security and police, blaming it on Goodes' reaction to the racial sledge.

"Picking on a 13-year-old child I thought was absolutely ridiculous and having her questioned by police without an adult being present was absolutely disgusting on the part of himself and the AFL," Joanne said.

"I don't think Julia was treated fairly at all. It was the way he carried on on the ground that made them do what they did. If he hadn't have carried on like a pork chop it wouldn't have mattered.

"It would have gone on exactly the same as any football game any other week. He just happened to pick on the wrong kid."

Joanne said Goodes "shouldn't take things to heart as much as he does" because being "badgered" on the football field was part of being an AFL footballer.
Obligatory Wondermark.
posted by flabdablet at 9:58 PM on July 31, 2015


It's broken my heart the number of times I've made friends with a rural person, mostly farmers, only to discover that under the cover of familiarity they spit bile about Aboriginal people.

As a paid-up member of the latte-sipping elite who has now lived in a small rural village for the last fifteen years, I have been doing my best to nudge this issue in the right direction, one acquaintance at a time.

One of the good things about going to people's houses to fix their computers is the amount of time you get for one-on-one conversations.
posted by flabdablet at 10:03 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Weasel words from Our Dear Leader.
posted by prettypretty at 12:19 AM on August 1, 2015


Australia desperately needs to have this conversation NOW particularly in light of the discussion about recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution, an event many many ATSI people Do Not Want.

Australia desperately needs to keep having this conversation as a safer and cheaper alternative to action. Likewise for what will likely be an entirely symbolic constitutional amendment.

In other news, ScoMoMo continues. This gets funnier the longer you watch.
posted by kithrater at 7:22 AM on August 1, 2015


I know it's orthogonal, but what the hell did this mean, I can't figure it out:

"She'd only turned 13 five days beforehand. She was technically still 12.

If she turned thirteen, she was technically thirteen!

I love the implication that of goodes had done nothing, it would have been a perfectly ordinary day at the football. She's both horribly right, and incredibly wrong, erasing goodes experience entirely like that.
posted by smoke at 2:01 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know it's orthogonal, but what the hell did this mean

It means she's an idiot. It's really that simple.
posted by Wolof at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I know it's orthogonal, but what the hell did this mean, I can't figure it out:

"She'd only turned 13 five days beforehand. She was technically still 12.

If she turned thirteen, she was technically thirteen!


It means she was desperately grasping at any straw to excuse her shitty parenting.
posted by Etrigan at 7:57 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


She's both horribly right, and incredibly wrong, erasing goodes experience entirely like that.

An observation about people who just don't get racism (or sexism, or feminism - seems to be the same folks): if most of the media you consume is dominated by confected outrage, it becomes easy to take as a basic starting point that all outrage that I would not personally feel myself must be similarly confected.

Therefore, when Adam Goodes objects to being called an ape, he's doing so in order to further some hidden personal or political agenda, probably one of which I disapprove.

For people with this outlook, racism is something you do rather than a worldview you have. It's all about what you say. You're not supposed to Say Racist Things because doing so makes you look bad. And as long as you can avoid actually saying any of the Bad Racist Words like nigger, boong or coon, then you are ipso facto Not A Racist; racism is seen as a form of rudeness, which you can avoid just by not using swears.

It seems to me that this also explains the readiness of such people to complain about Political Correctness Gone Mad: an expansion in the number of Bad Words you're supposed to remember not to use is a terrible burden, because all it takes is forgetting one of them and you've Said Something Racist, and therefore been racist, which is Bad.

Spend time talking to people who have been brought up in racist families and/or are comfortable in racist workplaces and you find that they really do hold a genuine and deeply felt belief in a natural order of things where each race has its proper place. The attitude is: I'll pretend when in polite company that no such order exists, but of course you and I both understand how things really work, nudge nudge wink wink?

It takes a very, very long time to unpick these things.
posted by flabdablet at 11:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


If she turned thirteen, she was technically thirteen!

A more generous reading of what she meant is that she's simply misused "technically" to mean "virtually" in much the same way that so many people misuse "literally" to mean "figuratively".

Were I the parent of a good-hearted thirteen-year-old who'd been subject to a similar media feeding frenzy, my first instinct would also be to leap to her defence. And I can easily imagine finding myself so overwhelmed by fending off the vultures as to have missed the point that Adam Goodes had already done exactly the same thing.

Given her subsequent apology, I have much more respect for the girl who sparked this whole thing off than for the army of morons who have since taken it upon themselves to knock Goodes down a peg or two, and I think it's important to remember that neither the girl concerned nor her mother are members of that army.
posted by flabdablet at 11:35 PM on August 1, 2015


I've been trying to use this booing as a jumping off point to discuss racism with some acquaintances on Facebook. I don't think I've changed anyone's mind, but I hope I've planted a few seeds that will germinate later. It was very depressing though so I made a donation to Goodes' Go Foundation mentioned in the post.

But... Luke Pearson pointed out on Twitter that this is a white person's racism topic. There's been sustained media interest, largely clickbait and awful old white men doing the #notallwhites line apart from the gems shared in the FPP and thread here. Meanwhile you can't get coverage of recent defunding of Indigenous medical and legal services or recent deaths in custody.

I don't know what to do about that. Maybe a celebrity sport angle to racism will open the door a crack to the broader issues, but I haven't got any evidence of that. Just hope.
posted by harriet vane at 4:12 AM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Marngrook Footy Show panel on the booing. Marngrook is an indigenous-led footy show on NITV if you haven't seen it before.

The Weekly: Adam Goodes Controversy "Release the white males!" And a demonstration of the difference between racist booing and booing when someone has staged for a free kick.

The only description of professional shit-stirrer and convicted racist Andrew Bolt you need, courtesy of the duck by the oboe: a five-star, fur-lined, ocean-going fuckwit. Not exactly relevant, I just remember it and laugh every time I hear his name.

The current dust-up is because of the near-continuous booing of Goodes at a West Coast Eagles home game. The Eagles are reportedly trying to get Goodes' team-mate Lewis Jetta, who is also Indigenous, to sign with them next season. Jetta was mightily pissed off by the booing and did his own war-dance celebration of a goal to show his support of Goodes. I don't think Jetta would sign with the Eagles now - there's not enough money in the world. Good one, racist Eagles fans. You fucked that right up for your team.
posted by harriet vane at 4:51 AM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


this is a white person's racism topic.

Until most of the people perpetrating racism do not self-identify first and foremost as white, isn't that completely appropriate?

Meanwhile you can't get coverage of recent defunding of Indigenous medical and legal services or recent deaths in custody.

It seems to me that people who care about these things are already well aware of them. The problem is not that most Australians are ill-informed on these issues (though that is undoubtedly the case); it is that most Australians genuinely consider Aboriginal people as lesser beings until proved otherwise and/or undeserving recipients of community largesse, and therefore do not care enough about these things to make their choice of elected representative hinge upon them.

You can't really shift that kind of confirmation bias by presenting facts that disagree with it. It's about values and attitude, not awareness, and unless and until those values and attitudes shift in politically significant numbers, we will continue to see people suffer the horrible effects of community indifference to disadvantage.

The only thing I've ever seen cause a shift my own values is face-to-face conversation with people I respect. I can think of no reason to believe that racists are any different in this regard. Media coverage of the booing is currently acting as a trigger for just this kind of conversation, and I think that's a good thing.
posted by flabdablet at 5:19 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


this is a white person's racism topic.

I've been thinking a lot about this. Not sure yet where i stand.

Goodes is "in the mainstream" in a way. He's not up in the NT in a dry town or away from view like many other ATSI people. Sounds horrible but he's more relatable because of that. If this is indeed a way into a broader discussion then that would be awesome. In the meantime, there are people suffering harsh deprivations but who are out of sight and out of mind.

I've been trying to work out what can I do. Give to ATSI charities yes, started researching those today. Face to face conversations are another terrific avenue.
posted by prettypretty at 5:36 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why are you so angry? parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 and followup. Primary topic is gamergate, not racism, but much of the analysis strikes me as completely applicable.
posted by flabdablet at 11:15 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to work out what can I do. Give to ATSI charities yes, started researching those today.

One option is to read (subscribe?) to The Koori Mail The Fortnightly National Indigenous Newspaper – 100% Aboriginal-Owned 100% Self Funded since 1991. Like their Koori Mail Facebook Page and share stories their with your facebook friends. Follow the Koori Mail twitter feed and retweet relevant stuff. You can get their mag on the Pocketmags app too.

Face to face conversations are another terrific avenue.
Abso-frickin-lutely. But one thing I have learned is that listening is the first course of action. From what I have gathered, Aboriginal people are not shy in talking about how racism effects them to those that are willing to listen.

'Why are you so angry?' - much of the analysis strikes me as completely applicable.

I get the correlation but it is vitally important that we don't whitewash racism against Aboriginal people by cognitively merging it with discrimination against another group with another issue. One of the reasons that non-indigenous Australians don't grok the everyday racism inflicted on Aboriginal people is that they don't actually understand the distinct and unique qualities of that oppression.

Think about it. The legally mandated oppression and racism against Aboriginal people in Australia for the first 180 years of its colonisation was nothing short of attempt at ethnic cleansing. The deliberate destruction of families, denial of culture and language, the massacres and stealing of country... is all really hard stuff for non-indigenous Australians to come to terms with. So we try to say "it's in the past" or "yeah, I get it, now get over it" and our sensitive little cosseted souls recoil at scenes of third world poverty on the telly but have something similar happening within two days (or two hours) drive of almost every capital city... but they just can't quite bare to face it because it means acknowledging that all the crap we have told ourselves about equality and fair go are like gossamer veils covering a rotting corpse. Deep down we know that our great and prosperous nation was stolen country and we have killed and killed again to keep it. Killed people, killed landscapes, killed families and cultures and languages; the very things that make the oldest surviving culture on earth who they are.

And on that note: We have surivied by No Fixed Address.
You can’t change the rhythm of my soul,
You can’t tell me what to do
You can’t break my bones by putting me down,
Or by taking the things that belong to me... Cos why?
We have survived the white man’s way,
And the horror and the torment of it all
We have survived the white man’s way
And you know, you can’t change that.
posted by Thella at 5:23 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Which is also how the US looks to my British eyes, a lot of the time. An obvious point of speculation would be that the less well-established a complex group's social structures are, the more likely they are to throw up obvious contrasts, contradictions and paradoxes.

I don't know if that's true. To me, it's more that there's an "expectation" of countries outside of the US being more liberal and humanist than the US, and then you encounter the "othering" that's common in the UK towards immigrants and Muslims, or the "othering" of indigenous peoples in Oz.

It may be the uniquely American problem of caring about how we think the world sees us -- a brash upstart to Europe, a meddling military-colonial power in Asia and South America -- and the defense mechanism we throw up called "exceptionalism."

We had a similar "stolen generation" in the US, though it was the Indian school system and tribes believing that becoming more white was their only salvation. OTOH, you have hundreds of tribal governments in the US with levels of self-determination that Aboriginals lack, and in some cases tribes have become prosperous enough to rise into the middle class. OTOOH, life on the rez is still abysmal, and the Feds have been negligent and asleep at the wheel with regards to that situation.

I do find it heartening, at least, that we're finally starting to see that racism wasn't solved for all time for all countries and all peoples by Dr King giving a speech, but that white privilege is a worldwide problem we all need to address.
posted by dw at 7:54 PM on August 2, 2015


it is vitally important that we don't whitewash racism against Aboriginal people by cognitively merging it with discrimination against another group with another issue.

Agreed. I posted the links to "Why are you so angry" in order to offer insights into the way the majority seems to think, not to draw any kind of equivalence between indigenous Australians and feminist game critics.

nothing short of attempt at ethnic cleansing

Not only that, but an absolutely up-front, deliberate and widely accepted attempt. Step 1: characterise the indigenous populations as "a dying race". Step 2: do everything possible to try to make that accurate.

And yet we crack the collective sads if a black Australian footballer has the temerity to use the words "invasion day" in public. WTF, Australia?

our sensitive little cosseted souls

I think "Why are you so angry" does a pretty good job of outlining the mechanisms we use to keep them cosseted.

all the crap we have told ourselves about equality and fair go are like gossamer veils covering a rotting corpse

I believe Andrew Bolt knows this, and that he sees that the correct response involves a massive ramp-up of gossamer production in some kind of "fake it until you make it" approach to creating the egalitarian utopia he desperately wishes he was already occupying.

I agree with Bolt that a truly egalitarian Australia is a possible state of affairs. I disagree that we are anywhere near living in one right now. If we're ever going to have one, we need to understand, acknowledge and unpick the default assumption that people whose country we share are childlike and/or disposable and/or unworthy and/or unimportant. We've been acting on the basis of that assumption for a bit over two hundred years and it's well past time we stopped.
posted by flabdablet at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've linked it before in Aussie threads but if you want an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander perspective on current events, the IndigenousX Twitter and website are well worth your time. I've found some really great people to follow and chat with online from there.
posted by harriet vane at 6:15 AM on August 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


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