It’s interesting to read all of the outrage being aimed at the young girl who made racist remarks about a sportsman this week. What was it that shocked people, the fact that it was said or the fact it was said by a 13 year old or the fact it was said by a 13 year old girl? It didn’t shock me that it happened, which is a shocking statement but it’s true.
The fact that the person who made the remark was female didn’t shock me. A few months back I was waiting at some traffic lights next door to a bus stop. The bus stop was scattered with school children waiting to get home. Also waiting at the traffic lights was a car with two women in it, I watched on in horror as they openly pointed and laughed at one of the children at the bus stop, a young black girl. Of course I don’t know what they were saying but I have a fairly good idea. One of them looked at me to join in the joke and seemed taken aback that I looked at her and shook my head. I felt for that girl because that is probably something she will have experienced before and will go on to experience again.
If people were shocked by the age of the aggressor, I wasn’t. Working in primary schools I was initially shocked to observe racism on a regular basis. This may take the form of a child continuously refusing to work with another because of their different skin colour all the way up to full verbal attacks consisting of the most explicit forms of racist language. The fact that this nasty little seed is sown in people of such a young age is shocking but given that this behaviour takes place in Prep classrooms I wasn’t particularly shocked by the age of this girl.
The fact that the incident took place within a Footy ground didn’t shock me either. When I first moved to Australia I thought I would try and blend in and get my head around this ‘footy’ business that everyone was babbling on about. The Footy Show seemed like a great place to start, I watched in horror as one of the hosts used the word “monkey” to describe a picture of a Malaysian man he was poking fun at. This was followed up with “that man is not long out of the forest”. That shocked me. It shocked me that this all played out on a major television channel. It shocked me that this show is supported by leading figures in the world of AFL. It shocked me that the same bloke was allowed to show up the following week and it shocks me that he gets away with that sort of thing because it’s expected from him. This is a show that is aimed at the core footy culture and that is one reason why this week’s incident didn’t shock me.
The most shocking thing about the incident for me is that it wasn’t really all that much of a shock. My expectations have been lowered. Were you shocked?