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This week, after last week’s deeply racist cartoon in the Herald Sun went viral, three Australian amateur football players have apologized and brought the Australian Football League (AFL) under fire for wearing blackface to “dress up” as Serena and Venus Williams and Aliir Aliir, a South Sudanese Sydney Swans football star, for a local team event.
According to NITV and screenshots of photos posted of the costumes, the football players all covered themselves with dark makeup, and the players imitating the Williams sisters wore curly black wigs.
Beau Grundy, one of the Tasmanian Penguin Football Club players in the photo, posted the image in a “Mad Monday” Facebook page, as well as on his own personal page. Both images have been taken down.
Across Twitter, people criticized the players and their decision to use blackface to depict Black athletes, while others said the incident pointed to Australia’s larger structural issue with racism and its inability to address such discrimination.
Oh look: a mere week after that racist cartoon of Serena Williams, another blackface scandal hits the Australian press bc white dudes decided to "dress up" like her. Meanwhile, three Aboriginal people died in custody in the same time period. What a nation of racist slow learners.— Celeste Liddle (@Utopiana) September 19, 2018
Just when you thought we could relax because Australia at least hasn't had a blackface situation for a while.... along comes Tasmania to save the day.— MGH (@MichelleGHunder) September 19, 2018
@PenguinTwoBlues do you have a comment about the players in your team wearing ‘black-face’..? Disgusting. They should be stood down immediately and permanently. Unless you support racists?— Hayley (@speakcleary) September 19, 2018
Let this team know what you think about the latest display of repulsive racism. #blackface
Some Australians still have no clue what is considered racist. This Mad Monday "costume" is clearly racist. And I'm a person who is fed up with today's over-the-top political correctness. pic.twitter.com/oWPR0WjeUx— Francis Gonzalez (@fgonzalez_) September 19, 2018
Beyond this week's 'blackface' incident & last week's Serena Williams cartoon, #Australia faces serious v institutional racism. 400+ Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander ppl have died in custody since the commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991https://t.co/OJ3g3uV0Ud https://t.co/pXdF53BzgI— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) September 19, 2018
Reset the “Days without a blackface controversy in Australia” counter. pic.twitter.com/SWN992xwTo— Mikey Nicholson (@Mikey_Nicholson) September 19, 2018
A spokesperson for AFL Tasmania said the organization doesn’t condone blackface, but that “individual clubs” are in charge of their Mad Monday celebrations, described as an event at the end of the football season “often involving heavy drinking and extreme costumes.”
According to HuffPost, the players apologized and have been reprimanded, but Penguin Football Club attempted to defend the players by stating they “never intended to be racist in any way” and just wanted to dress like their sports idols.
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This blackface incident comes just more than a week after Australian illustrator Mark Knight created a cartoon for the country’s Herald Sun regarding Williams’ loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open. Knight depicted Williams in a stereotypical and racist fashion with big lips and a big nose while stomping on her tennis racket; Osaka was illustrated as white and being asked to allow Williams to win. The Sun stood by the illustration.
H/T the Root
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.