Racism is dangerous.
To First Peoples in this country, racism means a long, violent, and bitter history of invasion, occupation, displacement and genocide. To this day, it remains a matter of life and death. For immigrant communities of colour, it means harassment, marginalisation and trauma.
For us, racism is not a series of gaffes or ‘mishaps’ that can simply be brushed aside. The Collingwood Football Club’s response to the leaked ‘CFC Do Better’ report is unacceptable and insulting to those who have suffered vilification by the club’s President, its supporters, and within the club itself.
A finding of systemic racism is not an excuse for powerful individuals to avoid accountability by blaming a lack of policies and procedures. It is an indictment of a fundamentally dysfunctional culture that develops when powerful individuals fail to act responsibly.
It is unacceptable that the Collingwood Football Club has sought to suppress and subsequently minimise the important work of Dr Larissa Behrendt, Dr Lindon Coombes and their team to document the historically entrenched failures of the club regarding racism.
As a major public institution, the club’s response to this report sets a dangerous example of how victims of racism should be treated in all facets of public life. Since both Collingwood and the AFL have demonstrated that they are not capable of responding to this report and its findings in an appropriate way, we as a community have no choice but to act.
We say enough. We believe that there are administrators, staff, fans and members of the Collingwood Football Club who truly wish to see it transcend its history. This can only happen with a radical shift in leadership.
We believe Eddie McGuire has proven himself incapable of leading the Collingwood Football Club through any meaningful transformation. We call on him to step down immediately.
We stand with Heritier Lumumba and his call for the Collingwood Football Club to acknowledge its failure to prevent him from being subjected to racism by his teammates, as well as the decision by senior club figures, including Eddie McGuire and Nathan Buckley, to punish and discredit him when he spoke up against racism and came forward with his experiences.
We stand with Nicky Winmar, Michael Long, Adam Goodes, Joel Wilkinson, and all those who have been subject to vilification by the club, its fans, and within the club itself. We support their right to acknowledgement, apology and compensation as recommended by the ‘CFC Do Better’ report.
We call on the Collingwood Football Club to appoint a person or people with significant and widely recognised credentials in truth-telling and reconciliation processes to oversee the implementation of all 18 recommendations of the ‘CFC Do Better’ report.
We call on Collingwood’s major sponsors, Nike, CGU Insurance, Emirates Airlines, LaTrobe Financial, and Coles to make clear and unequivocal statements rejecting racism.