Rising above racism

GUNNEDAH councillor Gwen Griffen is a proud Aboriginal woman whose heart goes out to the AFL star targeted by racial slurs that have forced him into an unwelcome spotlight in recent weeks.
Nanjing Night Net

“I would certainly know how Adam Goodes is feeling,” Mrs Griffen told The Leader yesterday, saying she had grown up with racial taunts, ignorance and discrimination.

The recent events made her sad, she said, and inspired her to put pen to paper in a letter to The Northern Daily Leader she hopes will open people’s eyes to a problem still too commonplace.

Education, she said, was the key, but in the home rather than the classroom.

“It must begin there, with the parents, because there’s so little respect today,” she said.

“I was brought up with respect and to take people as you find them.”

In fact she rejects the term “black and white”, saying how you treat someone should have nothing to do with colour.

“It’s about the person,” Mrs Griffen said.

She said she was shocked by the taunt from the 13-year-old girl towards Goodes in a game between his team, the Sydney Swans, and Collingwood.

It was a reflection of her family though, Mrs Griffen believes, and as for Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who went on to compound what was already an ugly situation, “thinking before you speak” is always wise.

She has developed a thick skin over the years and says many people tell her they voted her on to council because they knew she’d speak her mind.

“I don’t care what other people do or think. You only have one life and you have to live it to the best of your ability,” she said.

IT’S ABOUT RESPECT: Gunnedah Shire councillor Gwen Griffen says racism is still too commonplace but her own determination to rise above it has brought her considerable success. She’s pictured with Local Government Minister Don Page after receiving a Minister’s Award for Women in Local Government in March.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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