Former AFL player Heritier Lumumba, who was recently interviewed on The Project about his experiences of racism at the Collingwood football club, has hit out at the show and its host Waleed Aly, accusing them of supporting a system of “white supremacy.”
Lumumba came close to tears in a one-on-one chat with Aly, in which he described his former team as a “boys’ club for racist and sexist jokes”, but in a lengthy post to his blog yesterday, he claimed that the host was “indifferent” to his pain, and accused him of victim-blaming.
He began his post by praising Aly for the impact he has had on the Australian media, but qualified this by saying: “Regrettably, I made the error of going into the interview with the preconceived idea that we would both see eye to eye on the basic truths of racism/white supremacy.”
In particular, Lumumba was upset by Waleed Aly’s past comments on Sonia Kruger when she called for a ban on Muslim immigration, and he responded by urging compassion and understanding rather than outrage. He compared this with his own experience on the show, and said:
Having spent two hours engaged in an intensely, in-depth conversation with Aly, I couldn’t help but notice his lacking ability to dignify the pain that I experienced. However, Aly was prepared to exclaim that, “Sonia Kruger is not evil, she’s scared,” validating her pain of being in fear …
Aly could have treated me with the “radical generosity” that he afforded Kruger, by simply acknowledging that my name had been publicly smeared through false aspersions on my mental health. Obviously, if there were any doubts about my mental health by Aly and his team at “The Project’, surely they would not have subjected me to the persistent victim blaming throughout the 1.5 hour interview that was conducted in a completely dark hotel room, illuminated only by several cameras and lighting for, ‘dramatic effect’?
Lumumba was also critical of Peter Helliar‘s conduct, saying:
I winced at Aly’s silence when watching his co-host on ‘The Project’, Peter Helliar, [disingenuously] attempt to discredit my account of experiencing direct racism throughout my 12-year career as a professional footballer. Despite having dedicated 6 years to making a documentary about the direct racism that I faced during my football career, Helliar, a 42 year old ‘white’ man, said that I needed to provide more details of my experience in order for him to believe that it happened.
You can read his full blog post here.