The term ‘yellow peril’ was a derogatory and xenophobic phrase used in the mid-1940s Scott Lycett was wearing the predominantly gold guernsey when he tussled with Tyrone Vickery. Photo: Daniel Carson/AFL Media
Some of the feedback on the Eagles’ Facebook page over its use of the term ‘yellow peril’.
The West Coast Eagles have apologised for using “yellow peril”, a term with racist connotations against Asians, to promote the heritage jumper worn in last weekend’s win over Richmond.
The Eagles posted twice on social media over the weekend, noting fans seemed to have enjoyed the “yellow peril.”
But subsequent comments on the club’s Facebook page noted the racial inference of “yellow peril”, which had been used to engender fear of the Japanese in the mid-1900s and also describe Chinese immigrants during the 1800s Goldrush.
The Eagles on Wednesday apologised for inadvertently causing offence.
“A young member of the West Coast Eagles’ communications team was unaware of the history behind the term and the racist connotations it engendered,” the Eagles said in a statement.
“The club is committed to cultural diversity, inclusion and equality and as such unreservedly apologises for any offence the reference has caused.”
The Wikipedia entry for the racist interpretation of “yellow peril” is the first result when the phrase is typed into Google.
The Eagles donned a predominantly yellow guernsey for Friday night’s win over the Tigers, paying homage to the club’s 30th anniversary and first-up 1987 victory against the same opponents.
There were more than 20 comments on the Eagles’ Facebook posts reacting negatively to the use of the words “yellow peril.” Despite the comments, the posts stayed on the club’s Facebook page into Tuesday night.
Spokesperson for the Ethnic Communities Council of WA Suresh Rajan said he was angered and disappointed by West Coast’s actions.
“It clearly is racist,” he told WAtoday.
“It refers to a stereotypical past where it was thought Asians were coming to Australia to take away our gold. I’m absolutely mortified.”
Mr Rajan said he previously held West Coast in high regard for dealing with the race issues confronting Eagles’ big man Nic Naitanui.
Ironically, Naitanui is an AFL Multicultural Ambassador.
“As an organisation I always felt they dealt well with racism issues and I even work with the club with some of the issues surrounding Nic Naitanui,” he said.
“I don’t have an issue with the colour yellow, but the wording of yellow peril is unacceptable.”
A number of social media users hit back at claims the term was racist. One urged people not “take the phrase out of context and then get all uppity about it.”
Another posted “I’m actually part Asian and it doesn’t offend me in the slightest. Your ridiculous bleating about phrases used 100 years aho which no longer carry the same meaning does, however, offend me.”
The launch of the Eagles’ yellow peril campaign comes only days after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in China with AFL bigwigs to look at spreading the game into the the Chinese market.
There are even plans for Port Adelaide to play a game in China next year. Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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