Black Women Confronting Racism and Sexism

4 Feb 2021

In the storm, look to the calm. All of the Black women and men in the AFL industry trying to change things are the true warriors.

Illustration of cross in the ground on lined paper

Despite the current President of the Collingwood Football Club wanting it to be all about him, we must keep our eyes on the prize – the end of structural racism – and particularly, honour the Black Women in toxic systems fighting to bring it about.

No doubt the current President has a huge media machine behind him, and no doubt his fragile Trump-like ego is trying to make things all about him. Poor thing. This is one of the hallmarks of calling out white privilege and racism – white people, particularly white males, go into emotional self-defence mode to protect themselves. Like children having too much ice-cream taken away, they cry and fight and throw tantrums to protect what they perceive as their birth right. They have a grief reaction. When one has privilege and they are so used to it that they think it’s normal, equality feels like oppression.

Thus, the Black Woman who commissioned Professor Larissa Behrendt’s report, who is in there leading change in a toxic culture, will, according to some, get tarred with the same brush as the chief proponent of the problem. The fish rots from the head, not the guts.

There is another aspect to what’s going on at Collingwood and in every corporate boardroom in the country – systemic sexism.

Just like Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd tried to make it all about them when a woman, Julia Gillard, proved she was more effective at negotiating and leading, so too is Jodie Sizer at the centre of the storm of male ego. Despite Hereitier Lumumba’s strength, fortitude and leadership in calling out systemic racism – he seriously needs a human rights award – so too does Nicky Winmar, Adam Goodes, Latrell Mitchell and every other Black person with the guts to speak truth to power. This issue is bigger than one person, particularly the white one causing the problem.

In the storm, look to the calm. All of the Black women and men in the AFL industry trying to change things, including Lumumba, are the true warriors. It’s about time we recognized them and not let fragile white and male egos over-ride change.

The ball is in the Collingwood Board’s court – the white men on the Board need to step up and support their Black Women warriors. Throwing their lot in with the current President is like the Republicans in the US voting to support Trump after the insurrection, and choosing to vote down impeachment, effectively giving him licence to do it again.

And like Trump, this is not about the one rotten white man at the head. It is about the Sisters and changemakers who will one day be rightfully recognized as the ones doing the hard work.

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