In the current climate of news stories pertaining to the on- going issue of racism, I find it necessary to voice my disappointment at a personal attack from within the confines of a Boardroom, that I too have been subjected to the same humiliating double standards constituting the use of racist remarks.
As a Board member of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Ltd, I expected the formality of the Boardroom to provide a haven and protection of sorts from any form of racism. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
At a meeting of the MWSE Board on the 4th April 2013, held at the Narrabeen offices of the MWSE, I was subjected to a remark I took as being personally offensive from Mr. Rick Penn of Penn Sport, one of the co-owners of the MWSE.
In the “matters arising” segment of the Board meeting during a conversation concerning a newspaper article quoting the MWSE Chairman Scott Penn, Rick Penn displayed an obvious wish to close down the conversation. As the conversation was directed at Scott's unauthorised conversation with a media outlet that centred, not for the first time, on Scott's disregard for our media protocols in place to prevent this from happening, Rick began into a tirade against those members questioning Scott's responsibilities or lack thereof.
As I had driven this conversation, Rick took particular aim at me and uttered the words, “Listen here BOY!” or “you have no idea what you're talking about BOY!”
I immediately interjected and pointed out to the Chairman Scott Penn, that I took offense to the word (boy) in the context that it was used by Rick and I would not tolerate it being said again.
Unfortunately, Scoot Penn chose to defend Rick, his father, instead of cautioning Rick about his remark.
I took further exception to Rick, in trying to justify his language, when he also uttered, “What are you talking about, I deal with your kind/people all the time”.
I do note, that at the time, fellow Board member, Bob Reilly, also took exception to the racist comment and word used by Rick Penn.
I am in no doubt whatsoever, that the word, boy, was used to demean me in the extreme within the context that Rick Penn intended it too.
I regard the word, boy, as used in this context to be demeaning, derogatory, discriminatory, xenophobic and racist. I am insulted and upset at its use toward me and did not particularly like the intent to talk down to me as an inferior person.
After my strong reaction to this insult, Rick Penn did not apologise or attempt to pacify my outrage in any manner whatsoever. I am equally disturbed at the reluctance of Scott Penn to censure his father Rick Penn for such a serious breach of behavioural conduct at this level. I am further upset that the Chairman's lack of action has done little to prevent this from happening again.
This situation reinforces my resolve that I continue to hold “NO CONFIDENCE” in Scott as MWSE Chairman and further justifies 2 previous occasions of a vote of no confidence in him as Chairman by the majority of the Board.
I find it timely to write about this now, as the MWSE Boardhave met again on the 23rd May 2013, the matter was raised and there has still been no offer of apology from Rick Penn directly to me.
Compounding the situation from my view, was the defence of Rick's actions by the Chairman, Scott Penn.
Unfortunately, they argued that they did not find the remark offensive and did not know 'what the fuss was about'. This archaic reasoning displays a complete lack of acknowledgement and understanding that it is not they that get to determine what is racist or not, but the person (in this case, me) on the receiving end of the racist remark.
Lastly, I am forced to speak out on this incident as it relates to my role as a Board member with both the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Ltd and the Manly Warringah Rugby League Football Club.
I will not lie down after being treated so disrespectfully. This mater needs to be heard.