Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The N Word

The word nigger has always been associated with overt racism, but a provocative documentary is about to show the rest of the world that Australian Government will happily endorse its use on a public building

Stephen Hagan began his campaign back in 1999, and even then he thought it was an open and shut case. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Nine years on and he is still pursuing the Toowoomba Sports Ground Trust, owners of the local Athletic Oval, to have a sign removed that included the word ‘Nigger’ (the ES ‘Nigger’ Brown Stand). Edward Stanley Brown, Toowoomba’s first rugby league international, who died in 1972 aged 74, was actually a white Australian - not an Aborigine - and was believed to have earned the nickname because of his extremely fair complexion.

Arguing that the sign was offensive and racist, Hagan’s case failed to move Australia’s domestic judiciaries including the Supreme Court and finally went all the way up to the United Nations, where in 2003 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found the term offensive and insulting and recommended the federal government remove the word; but the Howard government refused to act against it.


Little Nigger Creek (between Townsville and Tully in Queensland) was successfully renamed in 2000 to Little Gin Creek.

Stephen Hagan's house need to be controlled by police due to threats.

"The Brown family is happy to take [the sign] down." - personal comment of the son of Edward Stanley Brown to Stephen Hagan.

Stephen Hagan wrote a book called 'The N Word' about his fight.

Mr Hagan also spearheaded an unsuccessful legal challenge against an Australian brand of cheese called Coon. The cheese was named after Edward William Coon who developed it in the 1920s. The name has been retained since despite its racist connotations.

Edward Stanley 'Nigger' Brown died in 1972 at the age of 74.

In 2007 the Toowoomba Sportsground Trust decided to tear down the stand due to safety concerns. However, it also decided to erect a statue to 'Nigger Brown' at the site.

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