Christian opens up about 'casual racism' in cricket
Prominent cricketers and social activists discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism in Australia in first episode of Cricket Connecting Country
9 September 2020, 06:53 AM AEST
As the Black Lives Matter movement spread rapidly around the globe earlier this year, former Australia allrounder Dan Christian received messages from ex-teammates and opponents that spoke to the racism that he says still exists in cricket, but also gave him hope that those attitudes are changing.
Christian, a Wiradjuri man and one of just six Indigenous people to play for Australia at international level, has been in the Australian professional system for the past 15 years.
He says while the racism he's encountered in the game is not "as in your face as you might see elsewhere", it has undoubtedly been there and left an indelible mark.
And as the global BLM protests thrust the issue of race firmly into the spotlight this year, it led some people he's come across in the game to reflect on their own behaviour.
"I've received a lot of messages in the past few months from people I've played with and against that have said 'sorry if I've ever said anything to you that you've been offended by'," Christian revealed on Cricket Connecting Country, a panel discussion commissioned by Cricket Australia about issues of race in the sport and Australian society.
"(The messages said) 'I'd love to know some more about your personal story, your family story, things that I can do in the community that I can try and help out'.
"So from that perspective, I think it's been a wonderful thing to have happened, to be able to have that conversation and for people to want to make change."
Hosted by former Australia international Mel Jones, Cricket Connecting Country is a series of online panel discussions that will be broadcast this summer as part of CA's efforts to address racism in the sport and continue efforts to increase involvement of Indigenous Australians and other Australians of colour in cricket.
Episode one, which premieres on Cricket Australia's YouTube channel on Wednesday night at 8pm AEST, features Christian and Australia's vice-captain, Rachael Haynes, as well as social activists Dr Janine Mohamed and Nyadol Nyuon.
Despite being broadcast on a CA platform, panellists were urged to speak openly and make the sport accountable for past failings. It's an invitation Christian took up, questioning why in his 15 years in the game, he's never once been offered or seen any kind of training around cross-cultural awareness from any cricket organisation.
"That's one thing we could at least do to raise some awareness and educate people within our sport," he said.
"I don't think that's something we've ever looked at in the past and particularly now, it's a great chance to do something like that.
"I think (racism) is an issue in Australian cricket. I don't think it's as in your face as you might see elsewhere around the world or even elsewhere in Australian culture, but it's definitely there.
"It's more of a casual racism. Little throwaway lines here and there that are made to be jokes. And a lot of that, for me personally, has been around the colour of my skin and the fact I don't look Aboriginal, whatever that means. That's the most noticeable thing for me.
"We just need to educate ourselves and encourage others around us to educate themselves.
"And part of that education is calling it out and having the guts to call it out. That's the hardest thing; to not just let it go and pretend it didn't happen. Confront someone when you hear about it and encourage your friends and people around you to call it out as well."
The launch of Cricket Connecting Country comes as CA confirmed its second annual Reconciliation Round at community cricket level will be held in November to coincide with NAIDOC Week.
The annual NAIDOC Week, which celebrates the history and culture of Indigenous Australians, is normally held in July, but was postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Episode one of Cricket Connecting Country premieres on Cricket Australia's YouTube channel at 8pm AEST on Wednesday September 8