A subtle and insidious racism


On Tuesday, the Guardian’s Celeste Liddle made light of Adam Goodes’ “imaginary” and “invisible” spear which he threw into the “general direction of the crowd” on that fated day, earlier this year.

Liddle mocks Goodes stating:

“there is nothing is more terrifying than an Aboriginal player lobbing an invisible spear in the general direction of the crowd.”

Really? “Nothing so terrifying?”

Liddle goes on, using inverted commas to describe Goodes’ “war cry”, and I can practically hear he400px-Recognise_Campaign_Adam_Goodes_Presserr chuckle as she quotes Dermot Brereton who recounted Goodes’ action as being “aggressive.”


“As if!”

I have to ask, what kind of thinking is behind that which regards Kevin Sheedy’s cut throat gesture as aggressive and inappropriate, but sees Adam Goodes’ war cry and spear throw as benign and “cultural?”

Now, I don’t presume to know what was in Adam Goodes’ heart when he threw the “imaginary” spear into the “general direction of the crowd” and performed the war cry that day.

But war cries, in my mind, and perhaps the Aboriginal warriors of old, have more to do with war and aggression than mere cultural expression. Hence the word “war” in “war cry.” But people like Celeste Liddle mock and domesticate ethnic cultures, treating them as mere fashion accessories for their refined urbanity.

You see, this kind of thinking regards Kevin Sheedy’s action as aggressive, and as a white man, he is accountable for his actions. But for a black man to perform a war cry is not aggressive or threatening, even if it was intended to be.

The kind of thinking which lurks behind this is actually profoundly racist. It does not regard black men as adults, responsible for their actions, but treats them as children – harmless, and impotent.

This ordeal has gone on far too long.

My advice to Adam Goodes is to ignore the people who regard you as less, mocking your war cry as a toothless ‘cultural expression’, and who try to keep you as a helpless victim, dependent on their benevolence. This is the kind of thinking that was behind herding up Aboriginal people onto reserves, and the work of those complicit in the stole generation.

Adam Goodes, you are a man, a champion sportsman and a role model for many. So man up, and take responsibility for your actions, and be the proud Aboriginal Australian you are, and the master of your destiny which you should be.

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Jeremy has worked as a kitchen hand, labourer and in policy development, and now prefers to focus his energies working with refugee and other disadvantaged communities. He enjoys boxing but isn't very good at it, and is a professional insomniac. Jeremy will know that he has "made it" when his opponents refer to him as a "pseudo-intellectual."