Human rights Opinion

Systemic 'bogan' racism is on the decline in Australia

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Héritier Lumumba has been vocal against the racism prevalent in the Collingwood Football Club (Screenshot via YouTube)

Global White supremacist attitudes are on the decline, including those of Australia's bogan racists, writes Bilal Cleland.

IN THE USA, we see White supremacists arming themselves, applauding the police killings of blacks, invading state and national legislatures and threatening prominent White politicians who resist them. Here in relatively COVID-19-free Australia, we suffer more from moronic bogan supremacists than armed insurgents.

That there are terrorists amongst us is certain, as we saw from the Christchurch massacre, perpetrated by an Australian export. That we have wannabe fascist militias was indicated by the recent neo-Nazi weekend camp in the Grampians, although we are told that ‘they broke no laws’.

The most common garden variety of White supremacist, perhaps the most dangerous to social wellbeing, is the non-thinking bogan who can be egged into booing an Indigenous footballer or into declaring a Black player “mentally disturbed” if he rejects being described as a “chimp” or a “slave”.

The typical White supremacist bogan is one without much backbone, who goes along with the flow of ignorance.

Such creatures are fully confident of their total righteousness, for they are widely applauded as “good blokes”. They get plenty of laughs from neanderthal audiences when they make racist jokes or when they are on TV programs with racists who get laughs from racial vilification.

Such creatures have gone unchecked and unaccountable for many generations, but the world is changing.

No longer does the White man rule the world.

European imperialism and complacent puppet rulers have disappeared or are in the process of disappearing, hence the growing despotism of many of them.

The home of post-war imperialism, the USA, is no longer pearly white and its KKK-style White bogans are feeling threatened as their superior position in society goes into rapid decline.

Here in Australia, we owe a debt of gratitude to Héritier Lumumba for his determined and unflinching stand against the systemic racism of the Collingwood Football Club.

He was not daunted by the slurs about his mental health or his appearance. He maintained his resistance to perceived injustice and his stand was most significant in forcing the club to undertake an investigation into the existence of systemic racism in the organisation.

Back in September 2017, fellow players in the club backed up his criticisms.

Leon Davis said Lumumba's experiences showed people within the club “had to be willing to learn and not be in denial”:

‘Davis says one of the most hurtful aspects of Lumumba's experience was the belittling of Lumumba's testimony and the lack of support from the AFL community, as well as Collingwood.’

His comment ‘that people shouldn't be surprised when this happens... the AFL is a product of society’ shames the whole of our society. It cannot be accepted.

Fellow Collingwood player Andrew Krakouer supported him, too. He had heard Lumumba being referred to as a “chimp” on “multiple occasions”.

The 2021 Do Better report co-authored by respected Yuwalaraay academic, UTS Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, found the club had failed to address systemic racism.

That it took so long for the criticism to be addressed at all is a comment upon the lack of seriousness with which Mr Lumumba and the issue of systemic racism was regarded.

The Black Lives Matter movement and the fact that Mr Lumumba lodged a Supreme Court claim against Collingwood and the AFL in October 2020 must have shaken them into action.

Héritier Lumumba wants an acknowledgment that he was subjected to racism and that he was punished and ostracised when he spoke up.

What he has done is force the Collingwood club and presumably the AFL to take this issue seriously. The “good blokes” who don’t think about what does not impinge upon them, who think it is funny to belittle Black people, belong to the past to the age of dinosaurs.

He has made major inroads into the influence of non-thinking “good bloke” bogans who assume White supremacy. Systemic racism has taken a major blow.

As Davis commented in 2017:  

“As a society, we haven't dealt with that and it's been passed down from our ancestors and our generations before us. It has all been swept under the carpet.”

No longer.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

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