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Racial tensions prevalent within Australian Football League

by Alyssa Daley-Executive Editor
Tue, Apr 25th 2017 06:00 pm
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In almost every corner of the world, racism still exists. There is a certain demographic of people who think they are destined to be better than everyone else and anyone else who is different from them because of their skin color. 

Australia is no different and this has been demonstrated in the long-lasting history of racial abuse in the nation's football league. Just like here in the United States, white skin is considered, by some, to be superior to any other. It doesn't matter that people of color have proven time and again that they can beat us at our own games even when they have not only beat the system, but they have beat the system that was made to keep them oppressed. Just as the U.S. has looked down upon the Native Americans, who were here before Christopher Columbus decided he wanted to get lost while searching for a direct route to Asia, white Australians believe themselves to be superior to the aboriginal Australians.

For some reason the ideology of white supremacy continues to be reproduced across the world and in Australia's Football League it has stayed in common practice through racial abuse, according to CNN. Not only do players on opposing teams throw disgusting racial slurs at the black athletes but the "fans" also get in on the whole ordeal by throwing bananas at the indigenous players. This has been happening since the creation of the AFL in 1897. 

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the revolution to do something about it finally came 20 years ago when footballer, Neil Elvis "Nicky" Winmar, who was of aboriginal descent lifted up his shirt, after being harassed for years, game after game, and shouted, "I'm black and I'm proud to be black!" 

The initial statement, according to the aforementioned newspaper, of president of the Collingwood Football Club at the time, Allan McAlister was, "As long as they conduct themselves like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect ... As long as they conduct themselves like human beings, they will be all right. That's the key."

Obviously, this statement was given by a privileged white man who still believed in the ridiculous notion that white men were the end product of evolution while the indigenous people were the remnants of an inferior race, which holds no truth or validity in the slightest. Even though the president of the club, which comes up repeatedly when looking into the history of racial abuse in the league, didn't want to do anything about it because he was racist, four years later the revolution Winmar had set in motion began to take hold. 

1993 was the year that race began to be covered in the media on an international level and, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald, the year Australia's prime minister, Paul Keating launched the International Year of Indigenous Peoples. By this time the racism that had been ingrained in AFL culture began to spark outrage across much of the nation and in turn the AFL claimed it would make on-field racial abuse a punishable offense. Two years later after another black footballer was abused by another athlete who played for Collinwood the AFL created Rule 30, "the first Australian sporting law prohibiting racial vilification."

You might be wondering why this is now current news if seemingly a solution to the problem was found but as Americans we should know that just because some legislation was passed doesn't mean there aren't loopholes, Jim Crow Laws, and people who use those loopholes to their advantage. According to CNN, just last week two players, Paddy Ryder and Eddie Betts were racially abused during a match at Adelaide Oval. The AFL's players' indigenous advisory board reacted by asking, "How long must we put up with this," amongst other things in a letter. 

That is most definitely the question and it pertains to racism in all places. How long will people have to deal with other people hating and hurting them for things they cannot control and things that should not matter? As recorded by The New York Times, the gene which controls the color of our skin was discovered and confirmed in 2005. It is scientifically proven that it is one little piece of our DNA that will determine whether or not we can walk down the street without people moving to the other side or clutching their bags closer. One little piece of our DNA determines whether or not we will be more likely than not to be a part of the school to prison pattern. And one little piece of our DNA determines whether or not we view ourselves as valuable in a society that tells us only a certain type of person can become somebody rather than just another  random nobody. 

I cannot understand why people continue to harass others for something as natural as a variation in the tint of our skin. The AFL and the "fans" who attend the games need to accept that people are people and that your superiority is not generated by a gene. A superior human does not do things to people with the intent of hurting them and their family. 

A superior human does not use their privilege to prevent others from achieving their dreams, and a superior human does not care what color skin someone was born with because a superior human can have skin of any shade and they understand that our outer appearance is superficial. It does not hint at what is on the inside and to be a little corny here, it is what's on the inside that counts even if our society for the most part says otherwise.

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