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The Moment I Realised I’m A Racist

By Phil Prior

The depth of empathy we as human beings feel is truly unique.

Having the capacity to feel what we feel. Laugh how we laugh. Cry how we cry. Love how we love. Hurt how we hurt.

People of all peoples, races of all walks can relate to this.

It is not hard to see that Adam Goodes is hurting. It’s not hard to see that Lewis Jetta is hurting.

Anyone that saw the events at Subiaco Oval on Sunday can agree on that.

Two years ago, it was another AFL footballer that opened my mind to the hurt that victims of racism feel. Heritier Lumumba, or Harry O’Brien as he was then known, went on AFL 360 to address the issue of casual racism.

The raw emotion with which he expressed how deeply our lack of understanding affects him really struck a chord with me. It changed my whole perspective. It changed my life. 

It was the moment when I understood that we non-Indigenous Australians simply cannot understand racism on the same level as victims.

But what we can understand is that they are still hurting. There is all too commonly a racial undertone when the “I’m not a racist, but…” people pipe up. When the Goodes booers ‘boo’.

While people continue to argue on why they can and can’t ‘boo’ Adam Goodes, we all continue to witness the undeniable hurt he feels. He’s a human being, after all.

But where the community is divided is by how we define racism. It’s a grey area.

The next step for the Adam Goodes booers of the world is learning to accept that their views on what is racist differ from the views of Indigenous Australians.

And I’m taking their word for it. What is and isn’t racist remains murky, but their hurt is clearer than day.