Bruce, who lives in Adelaide with his young family, has also played soccer in Turkey and China. He currently plays striker for A League football club Adelaide United. He was born in Washington D.C and emigrated with his family in 1990 as a young child. His father, formerly a lecturer at Georgetown University, moved to accept an academic position at Sydney University.
“Growing up in Australia from such a young age, the Australian environment has shaped my cultural expectations to a certain degree.”
“I think they have a different awareness of racism in China or Turkey. There is a lot more social stratification in those countries – more than what we have in Australia – and it doesn’t feel as intentional there or maybe they haven’t had the education about it like we have here. That is the problem here. People know better but they still continue to do so…to be racist and make racist remarks. We obviously don’t have the same problems as the U.S where recently and throughout their history black people have been shot and killed by law enforcement. However, the problem here is that whilst people know better, they continue to act in this disgusting manner.”
Bruce is insightful, passionate and very easy to talk to – he is not afraid to speak out. With regard to the booing of Adam Goodes during the 2015 AFL season, Bruce says:
“It is just wrong, wrong, wrong. We know what he has endured. It is not just the boo-ing, it is the abuse that comes with it. People have been asked to stop. They know it is causing harm but they keep on going. I had a few players contact me. We spoke about whether we should get together and do something about it because they know I am an Ambassador for All Together Now. I am across a few different sports, mostly soccer but I know a few AFL players too.”
On how racism in sport can be effectively addressed and whether a top-down approach would be sufficient, he believes that “if the message is delivered by players it has far greater reach and impact than if it came from some guys in suits at any induction. There should be greater education and understanding so no-one has to endure what Adam Goodes has. It is important such education is delivered from the top down too.”
“A two-year-old drawing on you or the walls, they don’t know better. But if an eight -year-old is still doing it, they are choosing to. It is exactly the same with racism. You choose.”
Interview by Alison Wilson. Photo: Bruce Djite of Adelaide United celebrates after scoring a goal during the round 16 A-League match between Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets at Coopers Stadium on 24 January 2015 in Adelaide. Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images.