"White Australia is so terrified of Aboriginal people that an imaginary spear still has them crying 3 days after it didn't hit them." - Aamer Rahman
Fear of Black men is in no way a new phenomenon. Colonialism relies on the strength of Black men to build a nation’s infrastructure, and this reliance on superior physicality creates innate fear. Segregation laws, assimilation policies, media stereotyping and government interventions are cloaked in the belief that society must be protected from the Black man’s brute strength.
But today we are seeing a new kind of fear. It is not fear of muscle or brawn. It is fear of a Black man’s voice. Australian society has moved beyond tolerating Aboriginal athleticism into an era of celebrating it. 2015 marked the 20 year anniversary of the AFL Racial Vilification Policy and close to 100,000 people attended this years Dreamtime at the G Match.
So how did Indigenous Round, a week of celebration, turn to this?
Growing up I saw some Aboriginal people in the media. But I rarely heard them. I saw pictures in the newspaper with photo captions like “Aboriginal Elder”, nameless, silent images used to illustrate other people’s opinions of us. I saw images on the television of controversy and violence, used to fuel other people’s stereotypes about us. And I saw Aboriginal athletes: Heroes. Superstars. I saw them kick goals and win medals but I did not hear them.
Adam Goodes – I hear you. Australia hears you.
Adam Goodes was awarded two Brownlow Medals for his physical prowess, he was celebrated and the crowds cheered. Adam Goodes called out racism, was named Australian of the Year, and the crowds began to boo.
Colonisation works to silence us, and so Australia is not accustomed to hearing Aboriginal voices. Our voices are inciting fear, because fear signals change and we have reclaimed the right to be heard.