Thursday, October 12, 2006

Olympics Protest -- Version #2

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to a technical problem with Blogger this morning I thought my original posting "Olympics Protest" was lost so I created this second version which includes alternative news sources.

Olympics Protest -- 1968

In 1968 I was only 3 years old so I do not remember the civil rights/racial discrimination statement made by two African-American/black athletes at the Mexico City Olympics but the image of their protest is etched in my memory.

I was reminded of this event last week when I read the news of Peter Norman’s death at age 64. Mr. Norman had won the silver medal in the 200 meter dash at the 1968 Olympics so he stood on the medals with these two black athletes. Here is how BBC News described this event:

“Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200m, stood with their heads bowed and a black-gloved hand raised as the American National Anthem played during the victory ceremony. The pair both wore black socks and no shoes and Smith wore a black scarf around his neck. They were demonstrating against continuing racial discrimination of black people in the United States. “ (Source: BBC News)

The back story here is that Peter Norman (a white man from Australia) wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights campaign pin to show his solidarity with Smith and Carlos. While I applaud the statement made by Smith, Carlos, and Norman -- and am ashamed of my home country’s history of slavery and Jim Crow laws -- there is an underlying story here that I have not seen any journalists mention. This underlying story is the racial discrimination and near extermination by the British Empire of the aborigines in Mr. Norman’s home country of Australia:
“Australian Aborigines were almost exterminated by the English colonizers. Today, they represent only 1% of the Australian population, roughly estimated at around 200,000 people. When Captain Cook arrived in 1770, there were about 300,000 of them. The Aborigines inhabited Australia for at least 25,000 years. By 1965, the population of "Pure Aboriginals" was little more than 40,000 people. They were literally massacred by the colonizers and expelled from their land, especially from productive land.”

Again I applaud and thank Mr. Norman for his silent support of civil rights in the USA but hopefully he did something to highlight his country’s own tragic history of civil rights during his lifetime.

Free your mind,

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