“Achievement has no colour.”
So said Abraham Lincoln about 150 years ago. Great words if only the world would heed them. But it doesn’t, this blog is inspired by a 13 year old Collingwood fan and her racial taunts to Adam Goodes.
Those of you who know me will know that I don’t take a huge interest in A.F.L. Football. I watch it and I now know (after 13 years I might add) roughly what’s going on. I have played and watched enough sport though to know that to make it to the top requires dedication and skill. Week in, week out through training and preparation and through sacrifice and hard work players earn their places at the top. If you can make it into an A.F.L. team you’re obviously no dud (even the Melbourne Demons players have great skills, and that’s saying something seeing how they have played this year).
And as Abe said, those achievements have no colour. The blood, sweat and tears of every player are the same no matter what colour their skin is. The dedication and sacrifices involved in reaching the elite level in any sport are massive and well done to those who make it.
We all have our favourite teams, even our favourite players but our desire to see our ‘boys’ (or ‘girls’) play well shouldn’t blind us to the fact that the opposition have also worked hard to get where they are.
I’m no Sydney Swans fan and I don’t know enough to have any real feelings about Adam Goodes as a player. He’s won a premiership so he’s obviously no slouch but I can’t tell you if he’s a super star or Mr. Mediocre but I must say I’m impressed with the dignity, courage and humility he’s displayed over the last few days, in the wake of the incident and in how he’s handled the apology. I just think back to Eric Cantona in 1995 and how he reacted to see how bad it could have been. (Goggle it, it’s a very famous incident.)
No one should have to endure racial abuse at work (or anywhere else for that matter), if you are a cleaner, a teacher or a footballer it’s just not acceptable, and Adam Goodes was just doing his job. That his job has him working in front of 80,000 people makes no difference – racism has no place in sport and no place in society. Well done Adam Goodes, not for playing well but for doing well in handling a situation you should never have been put into.
Back in the 1990’s I was involved with the U.K.’s “Let’s kick racism out of football” campaign. A movement that is still working hard for racial equality on the pitch and in the stands. It’s sad that its still needed but it does great work in raising awareness and changing peoples’ attitudes. Another, less well known campaign, but one that is gaining momentum, especially in the United States, is one that is summed up by this tweet from my friends the monks at the Unvirtuous Abbey – “For those who think Jesus was an English-speaking white man with blue eyes, Lord, in your brown-skinned, Aramaic-speaking, brown-eyed mercy forgive.”
It’s not just sport where racism is rife. Unfortunately it is also alive and kicking in some churches and as mentioned in a previous blog on one of Steve Taylor’s songs, “Racism in the name of Christianity cannot be tolerated.” For just as achievement has no colour neither does the love of God.
As disciples of Jesus we should be completely colour blind – to the point where all we see is a child of God, another human being. Enough said – let’s act…
Racism – it stops with me!