How racist is Australia 1

World Games - Sport and Colonialism (5)Australia's problems with the self-esteem of the indigenous peoples

Adam Goodes is an icon in Australian Rules Football, one of the most important sports in Australia. The player of indigenous origin is successful and popular, but he is also repeatedly insulted racially.

In 2013 Adam Goodes has had enough. During a game of his Sydney Swans, he stops on the sidelines and points to a 13-year-old spectator who has just described him as a "monkey". A debate follows about racism, identity thinking and indigenous roots in Australia. Adam Goodes is differentiated. As a result, he was voted "Australian of the Year" in 2014. An excerpt from his speech.

"As an indigenous Australian, I have often experienced racism. While it was difficult most of the time, it also taught me a lot. It shaped my values, and what I believe in today. Racism is a social issue that we deal with all have to deal with. "

"Respected as long as the indigenous origin remains in the background"

Adam Goodes received encouragement, but many Australians perceive his self-confidence as a provocation. Soon Goodes will be booed at games. In 2015 he celebrates a goal with a war dance and throws an imaginary spear at hostile spectators. This scene is part of a history of indigenous protests: in 1993, football player Nicky Winmar pulled up his jersey and pointed to his dark skin. In 1994, the runner Cathy Freeman wore the Aboriginal flag at the Commonwealth Games, recalls anthropologist Amanda Kearney, who studies indigenous cultures:

"In sport, successful indigenous athletes are respected by the white majority - as long as their indigenous origins remain in the background. As soon as they are emphasized as an important identification feature, many Australians feel challenged. Adam Goodes is influential, eloquent and healthy. In doing so, he shakes prejudices that many Australians still have from indigenous people. "

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Much media in Australia refer to statistics, the lower life expectancy of indigenous people or their overrepresentation in prisons. Adam Goodes, who ended his career because of racism in 2015, emphasizes the causes: The indigenous people lived on the continent for more than 50,000 years. From the late 18th century onwards, hundreds of thousands of them were killed and oppressed by British colonizers.

"Constantly reduced to deficits"

As late as the twentieth century, the state was often withdrawing children from indigenous families. Their access to medicine, education and the labor market gradually improved from the new millennium. Even today, many media describe the success of indigenous politicians and scientists as a sensation. It's the same in sport, says Lawrence Bamblett from the Australian Center for Indigenous History:

"For decades the government had locked away indigenous Australians. Our cultural contribution to the country was concealed, we were not visible. With one exception: sport. The cricketer Eddie Gilbert, the boxer Lionel Rose, the jockey Darby McCarthy, and, and, and - The same story was always told about indigenous athletes: "Only through their hard training were they able to leave the terrible living conditions of the Aborigines behind." Politics, education, art? That is supposedly not for us. What do you think it does with young people Does people mind when they are constantly reduced to deficits? Fortunately, my parents were different: after every negative story they told me a dozen positive ones. "

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The roots of the Australian national sports go back to the mid-19th century. British colonizers imported cricket, rugby and football. The changing rooms were mostly closed to the few indigenous players. For a long time, many Australians refused to admit that their Australian Rules Football also contained elements of Marngrook, an ancient indigenous ball game. It was not until the 1990s, with new laws and projects against discrimination, that the professional leagues opened up to indigenous players, says Barry Judd, probably the most important researcher in this field:

"About 2.5 percent of the Australian population have an indigenous background. In Australian rules football, it is between ten and twelve percent, and has been for 15 years. Indigenous people are clearly overrepresented on the fields. But in the executive floors of clubs is the opposite is the case. I can't think of a single influential coach with an indigenous background. "

Hardly any sponsors for the indigenous club

Almost all large clubs and associations are now participating in the nationwide network for "reconciliation". With campaigns, projects, calls for donations. How much of that is marketing? The Australian Football League, for example, named Joe Johnson as the first Aboriginal player to stand up against racism, as early as 1904. But at that time, reports Barry Judd from the University of Melbourne, Johnson did not even make his origins an issue. In other cases, too, indigenous players are emphasized positively, says Barry Judd:

"We call this 'enlightened racism'. Many talent scouts are looking for young players with indigenous backgrounds. They believe that a people who have produced hunters and gatherers for more than 40,000 years are particularly suitable for Australian football today. Many talent scouts think that Indigenous players can run faster and have a better spatial orientation, maybe even a sixth sense. On this basis, quite a few players have been signed. "

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Indigenous players are sought after in the lucrative professional leagues, and in popular sports they are often considered outsiders. For example, the Fitzroy Stars, an amateur Australian football club from Melbourne, run and trained by indigenous athletes. The club had not been included in any league for more than ten years. So its members sometimes played in mixed clubs. There they should integrate into society, was a widespread opinion of non-indigenous gamblers. Paul Stewart, one of the youth coaches for the Fitzroy Stars, sees it differently:

"Our club is a safe place for us. Here we can be who we are, without obstacles, without racism. Unfortunately, we have a hard time finding sponsors. Companies and NGOs are always interested in indigenous clubs and sports festivals Topics: It's about health prevention, clean water, domestic security. As if we had to help us all the time. There are hardly any international sponsors. "

Ashleigh Barty deleted the word "indigenous" several times

Twenty years after Cathy Freeman's Olympic victory in Sydney, the debate continues. Just a few days ago, the indigenous football player Eddie Betts was repeatedly depicted as a monkey on social media.

Most of the time, racism is expressed subliminally, for example to the Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty, whose father comes from the indigenous Ngarigo. Ashleigh Barty won the French Open in 2019. Then strangers deleted the word "indigenous" several times from their Wikipedia entry. Barty is confident about her roots. Like so many other indigenous athletes before her.

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