Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley admitted he was “dismissive” of allegations of racism following the fallout from former player Heritier Lumumba, who claimed to have experienced a racist culture at the AFL club.
The Magpies have endured a tumultuous offseason, with top-tier chairman Eddie McGuire stepping down last month after months of investigations, which ended with the publication of a 35-page report level the accusations of systemic racism at the club.
The report came after Lumumba repeatedly claimed that he had been the victim of racism as a Collingwood player, including being referred to as a “chimpanzee”.
The investigation concluded that Collingwood’s response to racist incidents “has been ineffective at best, or at worst exacerbated the impact,” according to the Herald Sun.
The report even accused the club of “setting standards dangerous to the public.”
Speaking publicly for the first time since the report, Buckley singled out a post-match press conference in 2017, where he admits to rejecting racist claims made by Lumumba in a documentary titled “ Fair Game. ”
“In the end, we saw Heritier, Leon [Davis] and now Andrew [Krakouer] who spoke from the heart of their experiences. I have a personal reflection, ”Buckley told AFL.com.
“There was a press conference I gave in 2017 when Heritier’s documentary came out.
“I couldn’t part with the personal connection and the potential feeling that I couldn’t have done enough in this circumstance to get myself out of this to see the big picture, that’s what Heritier is talking about, this What Leon is talking about, what Andrew talked about is their experience, where they want to be and what we want the place to be – we’re united in that.
“We don’t want people to feel belittled, vilified or seen as less than in our environment. If that is their experience it needs to be recognized and for that I think the club said they were apologizing without reserve. and obviously I’ve been a part of this club for a long time so I don’t like that people have felt this and I have to – we all have to – listen and learn more about the experiences and acknowledge them rather than reject them.
“There was a squeeze when I look back to 2017 and it was dismissive and I needed to be better than that.”
Buckley, who is out of contract at the end of the year, is entering his 10th season as the club’s coach.
He says he now understands and reflects on what systematic racism really is.
“What I understand now is that this is a form of systemic racism, the rejection and denial of the experience is not a direct act, but in many ways it reinforces the pain and trauma experienced by Heritier and which Andrew and Leon spoke about. they don’t have a voice and they don’t have a place to go and that is the systemic aspect of the problem, ”he said.
“When you think about it, you [think] “OK, how can we do this better?” because you have to be aware of it and be aware of it, and there is a lot of listening [to] and learn [from] it must come from people who felt for a long time that they had no voice in the matter. I feel like we have made very good progress as a club. “