Historians Stand with Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes holding Australian of the Year statue standing next to Tony Abbott.

The Highest Honour: Australian of the Year in 2014, Adam Goodes, is congratulated by Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in front of the national parliament.

Adam Goodes is a prominent Aboriginal footballer and Australian of the Year in 2014 yet he has been incessantly booed by football crowds every time he touches the ball for most of this season. No-one else in the modern history of the game has received such a toxic response from the crowd. Adam Goodes has won the best and fairest medal not once, but twice, yet not even the most unethical footballers have been on the receiving end of such persistent harassment from crowds as this article in The Guardian points out.

This is racism supported by moronic crowds.

Even before the indigenous round late in May, when Goodes did a traditional dance throwing an imaginary spear, the crowds were targeting Goodes. Respected football journalist, Caroline Wilson wrote about the booing, noting that Goodes had requested that his club remain not comment on the matter. He knew that such an action could lead virulent crowds to denigrate him further because he ‘couldn’t take it’. But that should not have stopped other sporting leaders from speaking out about it a couple of months ago.

There are many Aboriginal players in the AFL (Australian Football League) but Adam Goodes is the target because he confronts Australia about its racism. He speaks and acts on his terms, not the terms imposed by the non-indigenous majority. He speaks and acts because he knows Aboriginal people like him are equal to all Australians. Freedom of speech means that all people can initiate serious conversations about how they feel and how our history has affected them. Justice for all can only be had if those who observe injustice are allowed to start an uncomfortable conversation.

Sadly, Aboriginal Australians have been treated like this for too long. Hear successful Aboriginal journalist Stan Grant:

To Adam’s ears, the ears of so many Indigenous people, these boos are a howl of humiliation. A howl that echoes across two centuries of invasion, dispossession and suffering.

Read all of Stan Grant’s article. Feel the existential distress of the original custodians of this land.

This issue strikes to the core of the issue that Australia has to address. We need to own our disturbing history of the treatment of Aboriginal Australians since European settlement. We need to respect everyone, even when they speak uncomfortable truths to us.

We can only act with respect when we shed our prejudices, ignore our desire for ease of conscience and embrace truth.

A powerful statement in support of Adam Goodes has been released by the Professional Historians Association of NSW & ACT.

Please read and share it.



4 thoughts on “Historians Stand with Adam Goodes

      • The NSW historians said “we well know the impacts of past social attitudes and government policies – impacts that last across generations, often with terrible ongoing results. But …we also believe we have a role to comment on the context of issues that have plagued, and continue to plague, Australian history and society. The recent racist actions and words of some in the debate around Adam Goodes have left many of our members appalled and distressed”.

        I normally have an optimistic view of human development over the centuries; we humans can and do learn to be increasingly democratic, less racist, less anti-Semitic, less murderous. The Goodes story has shown how we can flip back to colonial racism and violence… in a heartbeat 😦 So I agree that this is well beyond one sport, even if it is the most important sport in the country.


      • Both at school and in my family I was expected to mix with people of all backgrounds as I was growing up. I am astounded, ashamed, embarrassed and depressed at how we have gone backwards in the last couple of decades. It demonstrates how embedded racism is in our culture and the importance of every one of us consciously monitoring and correcting ourselves, and of having the humility to admit that we did the wrong thing.

        I agree with you Helen. We can regress in a heartbeat. I don’t subscribe to the idea that racism is in our DNA. It is learned. As we learn it, we can unlearn it. That does not mean it is easy. Even those of us who do try every day to treat people equally can slip up. Sometimes we don’t realise it. Often it is only when we mix with people of different backgrounds that we realise our attitudes are not what they should be as a result of someone else pointing it out. We can only improve if we accept that we are imperfect and abandon the defensiveness that our sensitive egos are prone to erect.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.