In the lead up to Australia Day this is a passionate reminder that we have much to do before we can be proud of our history, particularly in relation to the original inhabitants of the land.
During the Ethics Centre’s IQ2 debate on “Racism is destroying the Australian dream,” Stan Grant (a Wiradjuri man and respected Australian journalist) presented a powerful picture of the experience of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
In the winter of 2015, Australia turned to face itself. It looked into its soul and it had to ask this question. Who are we? What sort of a country do we want to be.
And this happened in a place that is most holy, most sacred to Australians. It happened on the sporting field, it happened on the football field. Suddenly the front page was on the back page, it was in the grandstand.
Thousands of voices rose to hound an Indigenous man, a man who was told he wasn’t Australian, a man who was told he wasn’t Australian of the Year.
And they hounded that man into submission.
I can’t speak for the what lay in the hearts of the people who booed Adam Goodes. But I can tell you what we heard when we heard those boos.
We heard a sound that is very familiar to us.
We heard a howl.
We heard a howl of humiliation that echoes across two centuries of dispossession, injustice, suffering and survival.
We heard the howl of the Australian dream, and it said to us again, you’re not welcome.
For those of you who don’t know, Adam Goodes, an Australian of the Year, was an Aboriginal football player who was booed repeatedly at matches. Some commentators tried to claim it wasn’t racially motivated. For a serious look at the issues involved the Conversation provides some helpful background. A lighthearted, but compelling, discussion comes from Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson.
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