In the United States of America, we have many positive things to learn from one another. But, sadly, not everyone thinks that way. Racism is still a major issue in our country.
This can help if you want to learn more about what racism is; if you want practical tips on identifying racism and how to handle it; if you or someone you know is experiencing racism. Racism is discrimination, pre-judgements or hostile behaviors directed at another person on the basis of their race, ethnicity or cultural background. Racism can come in many different forms, from harsh comments to offensive actions. In more extreme cases, racism occurs in public spaces and comes from strangers, and can escalate to violent hate crimes.
Not all racism is public and obvious
Subtle or ‘casual’ racism can also appear in the form of a ‘microaggression’. This is an intentional or unintentional offensive message that targets a person based entirely on their being a member of a minority group. Any form of racism is unacceptable, even a comment or an action that is subtle or occurs in a casual environment. It’s not on.
Here are some examples of microaggressions: intentionally choosing not to sit next to a person because you feel uncomfortable about the color of their skin; telling a person of a different race who was born and raised in Australia that they speak ‘good English’; asking a person born in America what their nationality is or ‘where they come from’, instead of asking about their cultural background; making fun of someone’s background, even if it’s disguised as a joke.
Standing up to racism isn’t easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Whether you’re in school, university or the workplace, challenging accusations, assumptions and stereotypes is a good way of letting people know it’s not okay to be racist. Remember, sometimes people can unintentionally make comments that appear racist. Standing up to these comments can be a great way for people to learn about the negative impact they’re having.
You need to feel comfortable, safe and calm. When you stand up for yourself or others, it’s a good idea to approach the situation as calmly as you can, and to make sure that you feel safe first. Being willing to have conversations about racism creates room for discussion and change, whereas going straight into a screaming match is usually counterproductive.
Confront someone face-to-face If they say something insensitive, you may feel comfortable confronting them about it in private or in a group setting. Ask why they feel the way they do, and provide a different perspective.
Show empathy for the group they’re targeting. This may also help the person to understand that the victims are people, too. Phone or email the person. Let them know that what they’re saying or doing is not okay, and give them examples of why it’s not okay. Record the situation and give it to the authorities, such as the police. You may want to do this if you witness racist behavior in public, but make sure you put your safety first.
If you want to speak out, but are worried about creating a fuss. It can be incredibly daunting to speak out about racism, especially in a situation where you don’t want to create trouble. You need to feel comfortable about voicing your concerns in a way that suits you. Make sure that you put your safety first, remain calm, and evaluate your own beliefs and values before stepping in to help others.
There are other ways to stand up to racism. You can write a social media post about racism that you’ve witnessed or experienced: This helps get the message out there that racism still exists, and allows for some open conversation. Discuss it with family and friends: This is a great way to get things off your chest, and allows you to understand what you’re comfortable with. Your loved ones can also provide support to let you know that you’re not alone. Read more about racism: Understanding the history and impacts of racism can open the door to learning more ways to oppose racist behavior. Try looking on the internet for articles, videos and blogs about the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds. Join a unit collective or community group: Advocating for multiculturalism and the end of racism is a great way to learn about and take action against discrimination.