Australian of the Year Adam Goodes has been attacked by a radio shock jock for telling foreign media the truth about the ‘settlement of Australia’, stating Australia is built on "lies".
Sydney Swans star Goodes has become a prominent anti-racism campaigner after he called out a 13-year-old girl for yelling racial taunts while he was playing in the AFL Indigenous Round last year.
Just weeks after being named the 2014 Australian of the Year, Goodes told media that veteran journalist John Pilger’s film Utopia, which chronicles the horrors inflicted on Aboriginal Australia, had made him ashamed to be Australian, adding that he found the silence from the mainstream media “embarrassing”.
Earlier this week, he told BBC’s Extra Time* program that casual racism was a problem in Australian society, and that the first steps to eradicate it was education.
He said you couldn’t really blame Australians for their racist views because they were taught the wrong things about the colonisation of the country.
“I’d hate to put a figure (on the amount of racism) but the history of our country is based on so much lies and racial policies and things like that that have suppressed my people and lots of minorities in this country,” Goodes said.
“So you can’t blame people for having the views they have… the way I see it is I can use my position to help educate people, to see through the things they can be taught growing up… to see Captain Cook didn’t found Australia as I was taught in high school, until I found out otherwise.
“So, education is a big thing. People can change. I know they can.”
Goodes’ comments on the true history of Australia provoked an immediate reaction from Melbourne 3AW’s Neil Mitchell today.
“The sooner Adam Goodes finishes as Australian of the Year the better, as far as I’m concerned,” Mitchell said.
“I’m sick of the continued sniping. At times Adam Goodes seems not to like Australia. He’s trying to change the country. Yes, parts of our history are not decent but we have moved on from that.”
In the BBC interview, Goodes spoke at length about his own experiences of racism, and how it had affected his family members who internalised it and turned to other methods to cope.
“Racism towards me… has shaped my life… I remember the person who said that and when and where they did it,” he said.
“A lot of people still unfortunately in our communities don’t see how that has any effect racially.”
When questioned by the interviewer about why he seemed so “tolerant” against racists, Goodes said: “We’ve had to put up with a lot unfortunately… you become quite tolerant because if you don’t you become very angry and you do things you probably don’t choose to do.
“I have family members who can’t take it as well as I can. They react with violence, with drinking, drugs. These types of things are a coping mechanism because people don’t understand how much racial abuse can hurt people. It can put people into depression.
“…I think also is if (you’re) constantly taking this racial abuse, (you’re) going to start thinking ‘I’m not good enough, I don’t belong here, where do I belong?’… If I can’t find an area where to belong, bad things happen around drugs, alcohol, depression… even suicide.”
Goodes has stared numerous attacks since he began highlighting racism in Australia.
Last month, New Matilda revealed that a specialist reviewer for the English section of the National School Curriculum review, Professor Barry Spurr repeatedly called Goodes an “Abo” who only won the Australian of the Year title so that Prime Minister Tony Abbott could place “Abos in the constitution”.
Spurr also wrote that as a footballer, and with a mother from the Stolen Generations, all Goodes needed was a disability and he would be the perfect role model for Australians.
* DECLARATION: Amy McQuire was a researcher on the film Utopia. New Matilda owner/editor Chris Graham worked as an Associate Producer. NM originally reported the program as BBC's HardTalk. It's actually called Extra Time.
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