Nathan Buckley has conceded he failed to grasp the “trauma” felt by Heritier Lumumba when he first raised his experiences of racism.
Nathan Buckley has conceded he failed to grasp the “trauma” felt by Heritier Lumumba when he first raised his experiences of racism.

Buckley admits ‘I needed to be better’

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has expressed his regret at failing to properly acknowledge the "trauma" felt by former Magpie Heritier Lumumba in the wake of the damning "Do Better"report.

Lumumba's battle against his old club to acknowledge racist experiences suffered by himself and others at Collingwood resulted in the report which uncovered a history of systemic racism.

Buckley, who has been at the club since 1994, first as a star player and now coach, has conceded his own poor response to the release of a 2017 documentary on Lumumba in a press conference, a reaction which has been come under fire again.

The Collingwood mentor said now recognised his response then was part of the problem that had engulfed the club, with other ex-Magpies Andrew Krakouer and Leon Davis also detailing their experiences of racism during their playing careers.

"There was a presser in 2017, when I look back, it was dismissive and I needed to be better than that,"Buckley told afl.com.au.

"What I now understand is that is a form of systemic racism. The dismissing and denial of experiences, it's not a direct act, but in many ways it reinforces the pain and trauma that Heritier felt, that Andrew (Krakouer) and Leon (Davis) have spoken about, the feeling that they don't have a voice and don't have somewhere to go.

"You've got to be aware of it, you've got to be conscious of it. There's a lot of listening and learning that needs to take pace form the people who have felt like they don't have a voice.

"We don't want people to ever feel like they are diminished or vilified or seen as less than in our environment, if that is their experience then it needs to be acknowledged and for that I think the club has said it apologises unreservedly.

"I have been a part of this club for a long time so I don't like the fact people have felt that way and I've got to listen and learn, we all have to listen and learn to the experiences and acknowledge them instead of dismissing them."

Buckley, who said he hadn't reached out to Lumumba since the report was released, said it was time to stop making any more excuses, and start taking action.

"I feel like we have taken great strides in the last three or four years. But clearly there is still work to do," he said.

"It's not about my experience, it's not about anyone's experience from a white privileged background, it's about hearing the experiences of people who feel like they are not being honoured like they should be."

"It was well overdue for us to acknowledge this and the experiences of some of the people in our environment and that we need to improve."

Originally published as Buckley admits 'I needed to be better'


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