Shepparton rapper Briggs has weighed in on the saga surrounding Sydney AFL star Adam Goodes.
For those who aren’t quite up to speed on the whole thing, the dual Brownlow medalist has been granted indefinite leave from the Swans and is reportedly even considering hanging up his boots for good, after being dogged by months of relentless abuse from fans.
It’s sparked a debate that’s divided the Australian sporting community, with pundits butting heads over whether or not the vocal and prolonged Goodes-hating is motivated by racism.
While a few, such as former Brisbane Lions star Jason Akermanis, have crudely suggested that Goodes is playing the “victim card” and should essentially man up and take it on the chin, the majority, including NSW Premier Mike Baird, are backing Goodes, and calling for the abuse to stop.
Now, one of the Indigenous AFL star’s biggest fans, rapper Briggs, has added his voice to the discussion, professing that he feels Goodes’ pain on a very personal level.
“How does a four-time All Australian consider hanging up the boots not on his own terms? I’m now asking myself this question in disbelief,” he writes in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald entitled Adam Goodes Deserves Far Better Than This.
“An empathetic and endearing heart is a given when you grow up in an Indigenous community. So when I hear that one of my heroes doesn’t feel he can take the field amid racial tension, the concern is not just for Goodes. It’s for my whole community.”
Briggs previously made reference to Goodes in his 2014 song The Children Came Back, via the lyric “I’m Adam Goodes and Adam should be applauded when he stand up”. And now, he says, that particular lyric has taken on new relevance, for all the wrong reasons.
“I was at that Indigenous Round game with my dad,” he writes. “Sydney played Carlton… We were surrounded by Indigenous leaders and football notables at the SCG so when Goodes did his ‘war dance’ all I thought of was the spirit of the Indigenous round. It wasn’t until the next day I realised what a big deal it had become.”
Briggs then goes on to tackle one of the popular anti-Goodes arguments, that booing Goodes isn’t racist because not all Indigenous players are being booed.
“But every Indigenous player on the field is feeling those jibes,” he writes. “Every player who identifies with Goodes and who calls him a teammate and friend feels those jibes.”
“Every fan who’s made a banner for Goodesy to run through, every member of the Black Swans supporter group. The kid with “37” on his back, and the mother with the Adam Goodes’ badge on her scarf – they all feel those jibes.
“I feel those jibes.”
In the article’s powerful conclusion, Briggs tackles the issue of racism head-on:
Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding here: racism is not the paint peeling on the house. Racism is the termite that eats at the foundation. Racism is not name-calling. Racism is a systematic ideology that is designed to oppress and dehumanise a person. A year of heckling and racial taunts can make a four-time All Australian question his future in the game he mastered.
You can hate the Sydney Swans, because a Swan can take his jumper off.
But Adam Goodes is Adam Goodes every day of the week. He doesn’t take his heritage off. He wakes up black, he goes to sleep black. When he wins he’s black, when he loses he’s black. And when they boo him, it’s because he’s black.
And I can identify with that.
Goodes won’t play this weekend. He’s worn the brunt of this and it warrants a break. But I implore all players of all codes and all divisions to take a leaf from the book of a champion. Stand up for Goodes, as he stood up for us.
That way, my nephews will want to be the next Adam Goodes. Not because he’s the best, but because he’s the greatest.
The boos might echo now. But his legacy will echo forever.
Briggs recently scooped up two National Indigenous Music Awards, including Album Of The Year for his new disc Sheplife.
Read his full statement about Adam Goodes here.
Watch: Briggs – The Children Came Back Feat. Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith