I love Australian Rules Football–both as an amateur player and West Coast supporter. While this passion rarely crosses into blogging territory, something occurred on Monday–AFL Brownlow night–which is symptomatic of broader metapolitical dynamics.
So on Monday, GWS midfielder Stephen Coniglio was awarded the Jim Stynes Community Leadership award.
As explained by AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, Coniglio won the award for “his engagement with the diverse communities of western Sydney.”
I am sure to some, it might seem obvious what comes next. Further still, it might seem blindingly obvious and trite to draw out a commentary.
But this point is worth making, because millions of European Australians tuned in on Monday night, who while politically apathetic, can easily relate to the following. That is, could we entertain a scenario in which any AFL player received an award, at least partially on the basis of their engagement with the “White community”? And the answer is, unequivocally, absolutely not.
This question creates a stark contrast, for we know who Gillon McLachlan refers to when speaking of “diverse communities.” He is not speaking about various European Australian groups–British, German, Swiss, Norwegian, Belgian, Italian or Greek descended folk. Rather, he is speaking of the ‘diverse’ people of western Sydney, who are increasingly anything but European–Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Arab and African descended folk.
So while explicitly engaging, assisting, or advancing the lives of non-Whites is commendable (as in Stephen Coniglio’s case); the opposite is true of any such action undertaken for Whites–which is condemned as ‘racist’ or ‘White supremacist’.
Therefore, it is not actually that the AFL, or any other major repository of cultural power which exalts “diverse communities,” has a genuine objection to racial identity or treating people differently on the basis of race. Rather, it selectively promotes certain identities and demonises/avoids others.
From this, glaring questions emerge over why there is such an overt double standard on racial identity; if this is fair; and whether it should remain.
And for some–as was personally the case after Charlottesville–a group being demonstrably barred from advocacy, may in itself reflect broader disenfranchisement and imbue an urgency to respond.