What do you do about an Aboriginal racist?
Racism is particularly horrendous and shocking when it comes from within.
You’d put Anthony Mundine’s questioning of Daniel Geale’s Aboriginality down to some weird sort of self loathing if you thought there was a speck of self awareness about the man.
Geale is an Aboriginal boxer from Tassie, and Mundine’s opponent. Mundine, in a trash talking barrage, said Geale didn’t deserve to sport an Aboriginal flag, that there ought to be some sort of “cut off” for Aboriginal people after which they’re presumably declared white, and said:
I don’t see (Geale) as representing us black people, or coloured people. I don’t see him out in the communities doing what I do with people … he got a white woman, white kids.
So just when you would have thought we’d moved beyond this most basic, racist idea that anyone who is not a ‘fullblood’ must be some sort of – what? Half caste? Mixed blood? A prominent Aboriginal person breathes toxic fumes back into the debate.
It’s pure racism to believe that you are in some way superior, more ‘pure’, than another who identifies the same way.
There is a conversation to be had, of course, about Aboriginal identity. In fact, the conversation is being had. People are mapping their lineage, people are discussing what it means to be Aboriginal, people are having conversations about who identifies as Aboriginal. It’s an interesting, worthwhile conversation.
What no one should be doing, what is racism most foul, is drawing some sort of arbitrary line in the sand, and declaring who stands on the other side.
As Aboriginal activist and lawyer Michael Mansell points out, Mundine may well have drawn the line only to find himself on the ‘wrong’ side of it by declaring Geale un-Aboriginal.
“He’s talking about 80 per cent of the population in Australia, including himself. It’s hypocritical and it’s stupid,” he said.
Geale handled the whole situation with grace. He says he’s proud of his heritage and (I’m paraphrasing here) bugger Mundine and his ridiculous rants.
“It’s stupid what he says, but that’s the role he plays and that’s why most people these days, when he starts off with his rants, they switch off. I know I switch off.”
It’s clear who the bigger man is.
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