Almanac Life: Black Lives Matter




I couldn’t, because of health reasons, attend the ‘Black Lives Matter’ rally in the Melbourne CBD on Saturday, but I was reminded of how Indigenous people suffer racism in Australia, and of how Indigenous footballers have and continue to suffer today.


As a young boy, in the late 40s and early 50s, I went with my family to the Essendon Football Ground to support the mighty Dons.  Norm McDonald was a champion player for us, he was also Indigenous. We loved him as a player but I was always aware the opposing supporters shouted hateful comments towards him. As a young kid I couldn’t understand it.


Many years later playing for Yallourn F C seconds, our captain was Aboriginal, and every weekend he copped racist abuse from opposing players and supporters. He used to laugh at them and bewilder them with his skill, but it always hurt me.


Then in the 90s, along came Michael Long to the Essendon Football Club. Once again he copped the same racial abuse. He refused to accept it, and demanded from the powers that be, an end to it. I think he paved the way for the Dons to recruit many more over the years, but they still suffered from racial abuse, sometimes in a more subtle but non the less, hurtful way.


Growing up white in Australia, means we have no real feelings of what it is to be black.  I live in hope, particularly after these huge rallies, that things will change for the better, for our Indigenous brothers and sisters.  Let’s read the statement from Uluru, lets have better understanding and appreciation of what they have to offer, to make a better Australia.


So I stood outside on our verandah with my homemade sign from 2pm until 2.45pm. Only six people walked passed, and nobody noticed my placard.


Still I tried.


Rod Oaten






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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Good on you Rod, with you all the way! Little things count!

  2. As you say, Rod, let’s hope that more awareness and action brings positive change for our indigenous brothers and sisters.

  3. Fantastic stuff Rod. I noticed the wonderful letter of yours in The Age.

    I have/had serious concerns about the rally. As a health professional advising people to social distance, cautioning against big gatherings, a rally of this size was antithesis of the message. I couldn’t say one thing to the cohort i work with then do the over. It’s not totally different to a few months back when Morrison warned about lockdown messages, etc coming into place, though only after he went to a rugby match ! In our line of work consistency is pivotal.

    i’m happy to be proven wrong, i hope there’s no cluster(s) amongst those who attended the demos. I think of a big gathering in Philadelphia in 1919 to welcome home the victorious soldiers. The impact there of the Spanish Flu had been somewhat ameliorated. After this big rally infection numbers and deaths took off.

    Regardless of what happens it’s important to know ‘White Australia has a Black history.’


  4. Today I’m only a couple of weeks shy of my 77th birthday. In all those years its always been a mystery to me why skin colour matters. It has been proven by DNA that all races originated in Africa all those years ago. In other words we’re all the same. My own doctor is a dark skinned person and I have the greatest respect for her. (she’s very nice also). To me, it all comes down to the character of the person. All nationalities have great people as well as some not so nice. BLACK LIVES (AS DO ALL) LIVES MATTER

    Can hardly wait for the footy to start again and hope to see Eddie Betts showing his truly amazing goal kicking skills even though they’ll be for Carlton

  5. Mark Duffett says

    Well done Rod, and well said Glen. I’ll also be looking forward to the return of footy crowds that should surely ensue in three weeks time if there has been no uptick in CV cases by then. With masks, of course – have club logoed versions of these been added to the lines of official AFL merchandise yet?


    Well said Rod…and with today’s ‘ other thing ‘ re the ‘ crying need for social housing ‘ as opposed to middle class welfare boosting

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’m with you Rod. Well done.

  8. E.regnans says

    Thank you Rod.

  9. Rod Oaten says

    Thanks everybody for your great comments, it means a lot.

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