Surprise, surprise: According to an independent review commissioned by the Collingwood Football club, details of which were reportedly leaked today, the club's been found guilty of systemic racism. I mean, who could have predicted this? [A medley of non-white people sigh in unison].
A reminder of the ridiculous story that brought us here. Back in 2017, ex-AFL player Héritier Lumumba, who spent 10 years as a Collingwood player, thankfully spoke up about the culture of racism he felt within the club. As tends to happen in Australia, Héritier came up against a hostile media environment in making the claims, and was regularly heard by journalists with scepticism and disbelief. AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan even gestured to Héritier's 'state of mind' and 'welfare' (it's par for the course to suggest that BIPOC who speak up about racism are crazy, as we've seen from last year's Cards Against Humanity incident in the US).
Anyway, after the double sucker-punch of his experience and the repercussions of calling it out, Héritier's claims triggered the commissioning of the "Do Better" report by Professor Larissa Behrendt and Professor Lindon Coombes at UTS. Tabled just before Christmas last year, the report says that racism in the club was "distinct and egregious". The report referenced a bunch of individuals having "an unhealthy degree of influence over Club culture".
The report also confirmed Collingwood's cluelessness around dealing with racism, describing their response to racist incidents as "at best ineffective, or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents".
The investigators recommended an audit to ensure the "personal views" of its members were consistent with the club's values.
"Individuals have paid a high cost for speaking out against racism at the club," the researchers found.
"What is clear is that racism at the club has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players. The racism affected them, their communities, and set dangerous norms for the public."
It's worth noting that Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who famously slipped into a painkiller-induced racist fugue, quit a few days before the report was tabled. Could there be a connection there? We couldn't possibly comment.
Written by Reena Gupta, a Melbourne-based writer at MTV Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @purpletank.
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