I'm not a big Mundine fan, but I feel quite a bit of sympathy for the bloke right about now.
Not because he lost to Daniel Geale in the much hyped fight after his comments about Geales Aboriginality (or perceived lack of Aboriginality), but, because he had to deal with the holier than thou media reports in the lead up to that fight (as well as post fight) that were highly critical of his comments, whilst holding Geale up equally as both a poor, poor victim of a mean and nasty racist while at the same time, parading him around as the supposedly 'better man' for holding his tongue and not sinking to those apparently racist depths of mentioning colour and Aboriginality in the same sentence.
Imagine my surprise to read this article and read Geales own comments regarding Mundines Aboriginality this week:
"according to Geale, Sheena has more Aboriginal blood in her through her father's NSW-born, Koori-descended father than Mundine"
Now, I may not have the great legal mind of Ron Merkel, but I'm thinking there's a court case going begging right here. Considering Anthony Mundine has two parents he can trace his Aboriginality through (his father Tony as well as his Bundjalung mother Lyn), whereas Sheena only has a 'Koori descended father' (which to me always implies the climb up the family tree to a blackfella who is actually, well, black - is a long one). Not only is Sheena incorrect in her statement, perhaps to a level lending her to be accused of defamation, but also, the way it is said is, well - offensive. I have to admit, it would be reasonably likely for Anthony Mundine to be offended by such an obviously untrue statement being bandied about as fact, especially when it is racially motivated.
Somehow, I don't think a court case will be forthcoming.
(Geales family, pictured above, including the 'more Aboriginal than Mundine' Sheena, to the far right)
According to the Double Standards Bureau - Mundine mentioning Aboriginality (or perceived lack thereof) = bad, Geale doing exactly the same thing = good. According to the wise Ruth Lamperd, who wrote the offending article not only without the most basic of fact checking, but also, apparently without the intestinal fortitude to note the stunning hypocrisy of what she was churning out. In Ruth world, Geale is a 'gentleman' and Mundine, little more than a 'bragger'. Add in the Phil Rothfield article, a so called boxing fans rant going viral, an Age article that brands Mundine as a bad loser and an idiot, and you have the scene painted. He's the guy we must now hate for daring to speak his mind. In addition to the rabid media coverage, his Facebook page has been filled with nasty, hateful comments that questioned the heritage of his mother and referred to him repeatedly as a c**t (along with plenty of other foul language) and one bright chap who told him to 'go eat a witchetty grub'.
It all beggars belief.
Long before all the comments about Aboriginality, Geale was hoping for just this kind of boost to his public image. Until all this drama, he was quite the Neddy Nobody. Sure, boxing fans may have heard of him, news reports may have carried his name buried deep in the sports section long past where you've tuned out, but, he was in effect, unknown in the greater scheme of things. Definitely not what you'd call a household name. His meteoric rise was to be assisted by the usual hacks only too happy to scream 'racist' for a few dollars and some space online.
When I look at the photo above, the first words that pop into my head aren't 'Aboriginal family'. They'd fit perfectly well into a K-Mart catalogue - the last place I see people of stereotypical Aboriginal appearance. I can see how Mundine missed the Aboriginal blood in Sheena and referred to her as 'white', being that her skin is, well, white, it was an easy mistake to make. Unfortunately, despite lots of stories to the contrary, blackfellas can't spot the 'undercover brothers and sisters'. If such nonsense really were true, the same 'undercover brothers and sisters' wouldn't be shouting constantly about how offended they are when 'other Aboriginal people' question their statement that they are Aboriginal. You don't exude an unseen vibe, nor does my magic spirit guide tap me on the shoulder and say 'look over there, its cuz' as you walk past me down the street. I also am unable to tell the difference between a non Indigenous activist with blonde hair and blue eyes who is wearing an Aboriginal flag pin to show solidarity with Indigenous people on social justice issues, and a blonde haired, blue eyed person of Aboriginal descent who wears that same flag pin to show everyone that they are, indeed, of Aboriginal heritage.
How many people featured in the 'Aboriginal Memes' craze looked like Daniel, or for that matter, Sheena?
You remember the ones, mostly men who were obviously Aboriginal with charming little jokes plastered across their faces revealing their secret fetishes for metho, wife-beating and child abuse. I saw two blokes who were dead ringers for Uncles of mine, but nobody like Daniel, nobody like Sheena, and even more surprisingly, nobody like Bindi Cole, Geoff Clarke or even Anita Heiss.
Funny about that.
I don't care how many reporters in Australia thinks Geale is an excellent role model for Aboriginal youth - simply saying so doesn't make it a fact. As much as those same reporters bag Mundine as being a poor role model for Aboriginal youth, they only succeed in showing how little they know about what he has done. Mundine has made plenty of mistakes in his life, shot his mouth off more that is no doubt wise for a public figure, but he continues to be at the coalface to talk to those kids who otherwise would be at the greatest risk of becoming just another petty criminal on our streets. The kids whose parents don't care, the ones who if not for his boot camps, his taking an interest, would be on the streets right now, robbing your house or stealing your car. You might not like his method, you might not like his antics, but he does care and he does put back in, all the bloody time, and for all his failings, I wish I'd had a bloke like 'Choc' around when I was a young fella. You see, I've been a black kid in foster care and I can't tell you how good it is to have someone who knows what its like to wear a 'cloak of colour' you can't take off, a heritage that shows on your face and isn't always well received by the rest of the world, but still tells you not to accept less of yourself, and that you're worth something - and to be PROUD.