Retired AFL player Heritier Lumumba has hit out at The Project host Waleed Aly in a lengthy blog post following an interview he says was fraught with “white supremacy”.
Lumumba, who played for Collingwood Football Club for 10 years, told Aly in a pre-recorded interview on Tuesday about the “systemic” racism in the organisation, the AFL and broader Australian culture.
The football star made the appearance on the program to promote his documentary, Fair Game, which recently aired on SBS and saw Lumumba detailing the racist culture in the sport.
Lumumba was born to a Brazilian mother and a Congolese father and at nine-years-old changed his name to Harry O’Brien in attempt to assimilate to Australian culture.
In a 2000-word blog post posted on Lumumba’s personal website on Friday, the football player said he valued Aly’s presence in Australian media and his “humanity”, but said they had a fundamentally different understanding of racism and white supremacy.
“The fact is, that Aly’s team at The Project, were prepared to prioritise their agenda to sensationalise ‘African Australian’ youth delinquency, while simultaneously inflicting pain by destroying an innocent (‘black’) person’s image. That is a perfect example of ‘White supremacy’,” Lumumba wrote.
Lumumba said he “winced” at Aly’s silence when listening to The Project co-host, Peter Helliar, discredit his account of experiencing racism.
After Aly’s interview, Helliar had said it would have been helpful to have “more detail” about Lumumba’s claims he had been called a ‘Chimp’ while playing for Collingwood.
“I hope Heritier doesn’t go to war with the clubs and he actually joins with them to improve the situation,” Helliar said on the TV show.
Lumumba said he was also horrified Aly, who is Muslim, did not assert the fact five players, including himself, had gone on record to highlight racist culture in the AFL.
“Aly’s silence and indifference to ‘black’ pain speaks volumes when juxtaposed with his preparedness to validate and express support for [TV colleague] Sonia Kruger’s ‘white’ pain,” Lumumba said in the blog post.
Sonia Kruger came under fire in July last year for saying Australia should place a ban on Muslim immigration.
At the time, Aly said ‘Sonia Kruger is not evil’ and called for the “personal abuse” of his colleague to stop.
During the interview, Lumumba told Aly he had been subjected to “frequent” racist jokes and had been called ‘Chimp’ on a daily basis while at the club, but declined to isolate players by name.
Aly remained sceptical through the interview, and said there were not many Collingwood players who had heard Lumumba’s claimed nickname.
The journalist and academic said even former Collingwood player Leon Davis, who experienced racism and was sympathetic to Lumumba’s concerns, “wouldn’t verify the nickname”.
After showing the pre-recorded interview, Aly told co-host Helliar he felt both Collingwood and the AFL had a “lot more good will” towards dealing with racism than Heritier thought.
The New Daily is seeking comment from Channel Ten.