Australian cricketer Dan Christian has opened up about the subtle ways in which casual racism continues to plague the game at the highest level.
Christian is one of just six Indigenous players to represent Australia, and spoke out about the issue as part of the Cricket Connecting Country series, a Cricket Australia-produced show that will discuss racism in cricket.
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The 37-year-old T20 specialist was a key figure behind the Big Bash League’s introduction of an Indigenous round last season, and said that while racism in Australian cricket was ‘less in your face’ than it was elsewhere, it was nonetheless still an ongoing problem.
“I think it is an issue in Australian cricket, I don’t think it’s as in your face as you might see around the world or even elsewhere in Australian culture,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely there, it’s more of a casual racism, just little throwaway lines here and there, made to be jokes and a lot of that for me personally has been around the colour of my skin and the fact that I don’t look Aboriginal or whatever that means.
“It‘s just something that comes with a lack of education and an ignorance.
“I don’t think a lot of people say it with any kind of malice, it’s just that they don’t understand and don’t know.
“We just need to educate ourselves and encourage others around us to educate themselves.”
Courage needed to call out racism: Dan Christian
Christian said the most difficult part of the issue was having the courage to speak out against a culture than enabled those kinds of comments to be unchecked.
The all-rounder said confronting racism was difficult, but that he’d received messages of support and apology from many in the cricket world since speaking out, something he said represented a degree of progress.
“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,” he said.
“Confront someone when you hear about it and encourage your friends and people around you to call it out as well.
“I’ve received a lot of messages over 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, please help I’d love to know more about your personal story, your family story, things that I can do in the community to try and help out’ and 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.”
Despite this, Christian remained critical of the limited exposure Australian cricketers had to Indigenous issues or broader cultural awareness.
The 37-year-old said he had never been through any sort of awareness or cultural training with Cricket Australia, something he said would be hugely beneficial moving forward.