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Black and Proud is inspired by the iconic 1993 photograph of AFL player Nicky Winmar. The photo shows him lifting his jumper and pointing to his stomach in reply to racist taunts by the crowd, declaring ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’. Authors Klugman and Osmond use this as a stepping stone to explore racism, both in sport and in the community, and the way it has been challenged by Indigenous Australians.
The authors have succeeded in writing a book that focuses on the world of AFL while remaining accessible to a general audience. Even those with little or no interest in football will be captivated by the story of resistance, power, pride and triumph that unfolds. Following the lives of each of the four protagonists towards their intersection at this pivotal moment in Australian history, the authors’ portrayal of the two Indigenous AFL players, Nicky Winmar and Gilbert McAdam, and the two photographers, John Feder and Wayne Ludbey, is dynamic and evocative. This narrative is skilfully juxtaposed against events unfolding in the world of sport and the wider community.
Sport in Australia has often been used to create the illusion of racial harmony while disguising the racism that still profoundly affects our society. This book brilliantly turns that paradigm on its head by using a key sporting moment and the photograph that captured it as the lens for a deep and wide-ranging account of the interactions between Australia’s original and subsequent inhabitants. In writing that is clear, conversational and never downplays the gravity of the subject, Black and Proud offers a timely reminder to all Australians that unless we understand our past and the forces that have forged our perceptions of others, we will never achieve the respectful and tolerant society to which we aspire.