Ex-Collingwood player Shae McNamara says Heritier Lumumba was subjected to racist abuse during his time at the club.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast, the former American rookie revealed he approached an experienced Magpies teammate who allegedly directed a racial slur towards Lumumba.
McNamara has called on Collingwood to acknowledge that systematic racism did occur, and that the situation involving Lumumba could have been handled better.
"When I saw some of the things that were being said I immediately told Harry, ‘Excuse me, this is unique. This is not unlike anything I’ve seen in America growing up playing basketball and seeing the demographics that I became really close friends with’." McNamara said.
“That was the beginning of our relationship and that was the beginning of me letting him know that I see it. He just told me it’s probably best not to say anything because it’s going to cause too much commotion and distract what we’re trying to focus in on – and that to me would have broken my heart.
“When I did hear the jokes of, ‘Hey Chimp’, once I heard it for the first time, I went to the individual directly who was a seasoned vet (veteran) … I said, ‘People aren’t calling Kobe (Bryant) that. No one in America would ever tell an African American that without carrying a gun or ready to fight. We just don’t do that’.
“And when he said, ‘I know I know, it’s just our thing, it’s just for fun', I said, ‘You don’t ever say that outside of this club’, and he goes, ‘I know I know’.
“From that interaction they knew it was touchy-feely around that sensitivity of doing something that’s inappropriate but the ignorance and possibly a little bit of arrogance thinking, ‘It’s fine, he’s cool with it’, really rubbed me wrong in that way.
“So what are we going to do? We need to acknowledge that we made a mistake and we could have been better and that we can be the forefront leaders – as in Collingwood – I think this is a great way for them to be the trailblazers in setting a precedent for the AFL, the sporting world of Australia, the business world of Australia and Australian culture as a whole.”
McNamara said there’s a chance Nathan Buckley didn’t hear the alleged racist remarks but it also “would be a little bit of a stretch” to not know it was going on.
“Yeah, I think it’s possible (he wouldn't have heard it),” McNamara said.
“It wasn’t like when he was walking by everyone was like, ‘Hey Chimp’ and were making monkey sounds, they weren’t doing that.
“But when it was time to have fun and play and joke away when I saw it, that’s when I heard it. Others would always, his name was Harry back in the day, (say) ‘Hey Harry’, ‘Hey H’, that was that.
“As far as the honesty of what coach Bucks is saying, I take his word for sure but I think it would be a little bit of a stretch to not know by now and everyone else that’s been part of the culture in the past, to not say anything that they did hear it.
"I think that's their way of saving their own face.”