First Nations AFL king Eddie Betts fought back tears in an emotional interview responding to the racism scandal surrounding his former teammate Taylor Walker.
Former Adelaide captain Walker was overheard by a Crows employee using anti-Indigenous racial slurs while talking about fellow footballer Robbie Young at a SANFL match on July 17, and was subsequently slapped with a six-match suspension and $20,000 fine.
Walker then released an awkward apology video, which was slammed by First Nations journalist (and our collective husband) Tony Armstrong for centring white guilt and using Young as emotional support, when he should have been the victim in this situation.
Eddie Betts, who who left the Adelaide Crows to rejoin Carlton at the end of the 2019 season, spoke about Walker’s racism in an emotional and powerful live interview with AFL 360 on Tuesday evening, saying that this shit happens again and again, and wider (read: whiter) Australia needs to step up to stamp out racism in our communities.
"There is no room for racism in Australia."
Eddie Betts speaks after Taylor Walker incident.
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) August 10, 2021
“It just keeps happening, I’m sick of it,” he said.
“We need to start having those conversations … the only way we are going to move together as one is if we start educating ourselves.”
He went on to point out that he has experienced racism his whole life, as recently as last week even, and that despite his constant talks about racism, it just never seems to change.
“I was on this show last year pouring my heart out, begging, hoping Australia would listen,” he said.
“We as Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people are sick of fighting, because it just keeps happening, happening, happening and happening and I’m tired.
“It’s getting to me, it really is,” Betts said, fighting tears.
That was tough watching Eddie Betts then. Probably at the point where he shouldn’t have be wheeled out each time this happens to do this again. He’s literally saying he can’t keep doing it. Time for the same anger from the rest of the group
— Chris Williams (@chris_willo) August 10, 2021
But despite the hopelessness constant racism can inspire, Betts said he would keep fighting “no matter what”.
“I will fight for my people and I will fight for the next generation of young Aboriginal kids that come in to play AFL footy to make this a safe space for us to come and enjoy the game that we love,” he said.
“I don’t know how many times though that I’ve got to front up to talk about.
“We need the rest of Australia to stand up, to fight, to stamp it out.
“You hear me speak about it year after year after year and nothing is going to change, so it’s up to you guys to make change,” he said.
“Start those conversations at home, start it with your friends, your family, call out racism when you see it, because there’s no room for racism in Australia.”
Sick of talking about this stuff. https://t.co/ztQhtKDzaZ
— Tony Armstrong (@Tonaaayy_) August 9, 2021
His powerful call out comes just hours after Armstrong’s comments on how disheartening stories like Walker’s are, saying: “It just makes us think that this [racism] is rife. If this is the one that was caught, you think about all the ones that happen when you’re not there.”
And he’s right. Fighting racism is hard enough as it is, and knowing that people you spent time with or even considered friends are being racist when you aren’t around causes a new kind of emotional exhaustion.
Reckon I've seen three times as many of these comments as those giving a rat's arse how Robbie Young, Eddie Betts or any Indigenous player Walker has effectively shat all over feel. FMD. Anyone who reckons this country doesn't have a MAJOR issue with racism is kidding themselves. pic.twitter.com/EO0awsG4sB
— Rohan Connolly (@rohan_connolly) August 10, 2021
We live on stolen land, in colonies that were built on genocide — racism is an endemic part of Australian society, and it shouldn’t be up to marginalised groups to fight it alone, or worse: to comfort those that do them wrong. How absurd.
I hope Eddie Betts’ words are taken seriously — but like he said, he’s done this same speech again and again over the years, with no changes. Until people actually choose to listen, it seems these words are falling on deaf ears.