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PETER WILLIAMS: Racism's Double Standards

Questions need to be asked on both sides of the world

The NRL Judiciary hands down an eight week suspension to Sydney Roosters forward Spencer Leniu , an Auckland born Samoan, after he calls Ezra Mam, Sydney born but of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, a monkey.

Public opinion, as expressed through media – public and social – is supportive of the NRL taking a strong stand on racial abuse. Some say the ban isn’t long enough.

On the other side of the world Samantha Kerr, who inherits brown skin from her Indian grandmother but is otherwise seventy five percent Caucasian and is now one of the best players in women’s football, gets drunk and calls an English police officer stupid and white.

According to former Australian men’s football captain Craig Foster it’s ok for her to do that because “racism can only be perpetrated against a marginalized person or group.”

Um, who is marginalized here?

An inebriated multi-millionaire of predominantly European ethnicity and a sense of self-entitlement learnt from male colleagues in the Premier League or an English bobby of moderate income just doing his best to tidy up a messy incident in a taxi.

The sympathy for Kerr – and Foster is not alone in expressing it – is worth remembering in the context of the Leniu/Mam incident.

The Samoan, although pleading guilty to the charge, explained that at the time he thought it was “fun and games, one brown man sledging another brown man.”

Leniu explained that growing up in Brisbane he didn’t take offence at being called “monkey” or “coconut.”

But the unspoken truth in Australian race relations is that Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are untouchable. They cannot and must not be abused or insulted, even by their own – witness the vitriol directed against trailblazing indigenous NRL star Anthony Mundine for his support of Leniu.

So a couple of questions here.

If Leniu’s comments had been directed at another Polynesian or Maori player would any action have been taken?

Almost certainly no.

This case went to the NRL Judiciary after Mam complained. It’s unlikely any complaint would have come from Leniu’s opponent if he had been of the same ethnic extraction. Even if such a case did reach a hearing, a ban as lengthy as this would not have been handed down.

If it had been Mam sledging Leniu would the perpetrator have copped an eight week suspension?

Almost certainly not. The racial hierarchy regards Indigenous Australians as victims of colonization and immigration. Therefore punishment for bad behaviour would be mitigated.

That a charge has been laid against Samantha Kerr is remarkable because the British justice system has historically been reluctant to take action against criminal behaviour perpetrated by those of Asian ethnicity – witness the Rotherham “grooming gang” scandals which weren’t prosecuted for nearly twenty years.

If Kerr said what she is alleged to have said it’s up there with Anikaaro Harawira-Havili, daughter of Hone, telling an Indian police officer, during the Ihumatao protest of 2019, to “f**k off back to your own country.”

No action was taken against her.

Would it be now?


Her father insisted to me on the radio that was not a racist comment.

Will Kerr’s case make it to court?

Probably not because she’s sort of brown and she’s rich. It’s an irresistible combination for getting off.

Also, as Craig Foster says, racism “is when someone with race-based societal power excludes or disadvantages a racially based person because of their race, colour or descent."

“Definitions of racism were not designed to protect a white police officer who has greater racial and legal power.”

He cannot be serious.

How much longer will we whiteys put up with the double standards?

Writer and broadcaster for half a century. Now watching from the sidelines. Subscribe to Peter William's Substack here

3,800 views150 comments


Perhaps you believe that only the racial hierarchy regards Indigenous Australians as victims of colonisation and immigration.

The immigration of large numbers of Europeans to Australia began in the late 18th century and lasted until the early 20th. Throughout this period, settlers attacked and displaced Indigenous Australians, resulting in significant numbers of Indigenous deaths. These attacks are considered to be a direct and indirect (through displacement and hunger) cause of the decline of the Indigenous population, during an ongoing colonising process of mass immigration and land clearing for agricultural and mining purposes.

I think any objective reader would agree aborigines are victims of colonisation and immigration.


How much longer will we whiteys put up with the double standards?”

Why did you have to make it a racist statement?

Just say “How much longer will people put up with the double standards?”


Mar 14

In reality there's nothing unusual about these two in the context of sport - trying to unsettle an opponent using words (silly verbiage, as a rule). Occasionally the perpetrator fails to get away with it, as happened this time.

Replying to

Yes. If you think that's bad you should hear what Aussie cricketers call your mother.


"How much longer will we whiteys put up with the double standards?"

I'm ready to stop...


What if Spencer Leniu was right?

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