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Indigenous Australians Are Mad As Hell About The Way Adam Goodes Has Been Treated

Some of the country's most influential Aboriginal leaders have have come out to stand side-by-side with Adam Goodes.

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Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes has taken an indefinite break from playing AFL after being racially abused at last Sunday's West Coast-Sydney Swans clash.

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Two West Coast supporters were evicted for racist behaviour and Goodes was continually booed throughout the match, prompting teammate Lewis Jetta to do an Aboriginal war dance after scoring a goal as a show of support for Goodes.

One of the ejected spectators yelled that Goodes should, "go back to the zoo."

Goodes did not attend training with the Swans this week and the club has confirmed he will sit out this weekend's game against Adelaide.

The outspoken Goodes has been the target of racial attacks and constant booing since he was singled out by a 13-year-old girl who called him an ape in 2013.

Awarded Australian of the year in 2014, Goodes used his opportunity to call out Australia's casual racism and past discriminatory practices toward Indigenous people.

Now Indigenous community leaders are worried that the constant abuse is taking an emotional toll on Goodes and have publicly offered a statement of support.

Acclaimed Aboriginal author Anita Heiss understands the emotional toll racism can have.

Author Anita Heiss (Amanda James)

Heiss was one of nine Aboriginal people who took newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt to court over articles that were found to racially vilify them.

“I have been in a position similar to Adam's in that I've been vilified without real cause, being vilified by complete strangers," Heiss told BuzzFeed News.

"I know what carried me through, and that was the shoulders that I got to stand on. Community members who said we’ve got your back and I think it’s very important that he knows that there is a mob around the country who have got his back and want him him to stay strong."

Heiss, alongside prominent Aboriginal community members Phillipa McDermott, who is head of Indigenous employment at ABC, and Sonia Stewart from the Public Service Commission, have issued a public statement of support signed by highly respected Aboriginal people. The statement will also make its way to Aboriginal communities across the country for people to sign.

McDermott told BuzzFeed News that it's important that Goodes knows that he is not alone in this.

"There hasn't been much Indigenous commentary around this so we came up with a statement of support from his peers. We want to let him know that we are here for him, all his brothers and sisters around the country," she said.

The statement of support already has over 50 signatures from some of the country's most influential Indigenous people.

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Some of those who have signed include former Swans player and AFL hall of fame inductee Michael O'Loughlin, acclaimed filmmaker Rachel Perkins, head of NITV Tanya Denning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and the head of Indigenous television at ABC, Sally Riley. You can read the full list of names here.

We the undersigned stand in unity alongside Adam Goodes as we did with Nicky Winmar (1993) and Cathy Freeman (1994)," the statement reads.

"We condemn the fact that our gifted sporting heroes, our respected ambassadors, our treasured national icons continue to be ridiculed for demonstrating pride in their identity as First Australians."

We applaud them for giving strength to our young people, for maintaining dignity under pressure and for flying the anti-racism flag."

To our brother Adam Goodes – dual Brownlow Medalist, dual premiership player, three times Sydney leading goal kicker, four time All-Australian member, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century and Australian of the Year - we say, you are not alone.


The furore over Goodes' performance of an Aboriginal war dance after scoring a goal in May has since ignited heated debate about whether it was appropriate behaviour.

View this video on YouTube

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The furore over Goodes' performance of an Aboriginal war dance after scoring a goal in May has since ignited heated debate about whether it was appropriate behaviour.

Commentators like radio shock jock Alan Jones have called Goodes "sensitive" while others have said that the treatment Goodes has received is not racially motivated.

Heiss is outraged that the discussion is largely in the hands of non-Indigenous people.

"We've got white middle-class men telling black people what is and what is not racism. I mean it's like men telling women what sexism is and is not. The perpetrator does not get the right to define what the victim is feeling," she tells BuzzFeed News.

The hashtag "I Stand With Adam" is now being used on social media and McDermott says it's time that Australia embraces Goodes' achievements.

White people telling us what's not racist is like men telling women what's not sexist. #IStandWithAdam

Imagine being Adam Goodes tonight. #IStandWithAdam #racismstopswithme

The haka is a strong & proud Maori, now NZ, tradition. Why are we so threatened by honouring Aboriginal heritage? The guilt? #IStandWithAdam

Growing up, my father told me to "never bow my head" #istandwithadam

"How much more can you do for your country, your sport and your industry? And then to get treated like this, well it's disgusting," McDermott says.

"Australians want to cherry-pick what they like about blackfellas but when Adam does something like that dance that he is proud of - and in the Indigenous round no less - he gets slammed."

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

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