A continuing reflection…
As we know, one starts unpeeling the layers of their racist nature by immersing themselves in different cultures. The good news is that the more multicultural and pressure to be accountable as a nation this country becomes, the better tolerance the average Joe has for the other despite the shameful policies on refugees and asylum seekers. Interestingly, this seemingly excludes when Causians immerse themselves in culturally diverse culinary experiences because though this tradition has been in existence for decades, it has been taken for granted when discussions on racial acceptance are at the forefront.
Survivors of racism need to understand that you are not helpless and can do something about it. Whether it is confronting or acting silently, you can fight for your justice. First and foremost, be aware of your rights e.g. Racial Discrimination Act. Racism and discrimination are against the law (including online hate). The Australian Human Right Commission (AHRC) and Law Stuff website explain your rights and the action to take when there is an infringement on those rights. For example, I knew I had the right to report the unfortunate events that had transpired in Shell Harbour. If an unsatisfactory response had been received from the management team, I could’ve escalated the matter further as a consumer and tax-paying citizen. Whilst the Racial Discrimination Act offers protection it does contradict itself by cleverly providing an “escape clause” for some where it states…
“some things that are not against the law, provided they are ‘done reasonably and in good faith’ – even if they are done in public”.
Loophole? I think so. Case in point, the Australian media sometimes finds humour in unfortunate racial and discriminatory incidences. We have seen this far too many times in the media where ignorant and racist comments are “done reasonably and in good faith”. In fact, I wrote a piece about it here.
The negative portrayal of certain ethnicities is an ongoing battle, however, organisations
such as All together now and Australians against racism are tackling this every day. You can also be involved through your own social media platforms by following empowering platforms, reporting platforms that perpertuate the stereotyping, elevating the positive depictions of your ethnic group, supporting dark-skinned owned brands and rebuke the notion of being an agent of white supremacy by ceasing the perpetuation of anti-blackness, colourism or de-valuing yourself or others. It takes mental work to acknowledge, uncondition and address these implicit biases and self-hate nurtured by the world around us.
Additionally, methods to improve the portrayal of dark-skinned people and bring cultural awareness and racial acceptance include representation in all societal aspects such as media, education, and politics (to name a few). There is lack of representation in several societal facets however, it is now on a steady but excruciatingly slow climb.
- Searching “Australian TV celebrities” only yields results with all Caucasian celebrities
2. Like reality, if you want diversity in media you really have to search for it. Even on google. Some of these celebrities appeared 3 times on this single search making it appear as though there are a lot of culturally diverse celebrities on Australian TV.
So it is evident that there is a lacking presence of ethnic voices to describe their racial position in Australia which partly contributes to the denial culture that racism doesn’t exist or that reverse racism
“is a thing”. Too often the narrative of this country not being racist emerged from “panel or expert” discussions amongst Caucasian individuals.
Conversely, dark-skinned people lacking a voice are seeking representation within themselves because as aforementioned, the change in media has been an uphill
battle. Millenials have been establishing their own web series e.g. The Australian-based Say it Loud Show , British-based Subjectivity UK or American based Grapevine TV on youtube to express the perspectives and experiences of dark-skinned people. Podcasts such as Black Girl Podcast or Ted Talks by dark skinned people discussing strategies for the growth and empowerment of black people are available.
More research is being undertaken in Australia to identify strategies that are inclusive of ethnic and indigenous voices to highlight that there is racism in this country. Perpetrators of racism are now beginning to acknowledge racism exists and some are becoming allies by even suggesting that they will defend a person being racially targeted.
So we know numbers of perpetrators of racism decrease with a widespread acceptance of diversity fostered by national accountability. Combating racist and discriminatory language, attitudes and behaviours can be challenging and differs from person to person. Responding to racism is an individual choice. You are entitled to respond to racism in a way you see fit. As previously mentioned, my response has drastically changed from 1. being angry then doing nothing about it or only ever killing them with kindness by being patient and attempting to have discussions to 2. case by case assessments of responding with either the former approach, indignation or intolerance served with a side of formal complaints or reporting. Life experience has led to only reserving energy for discussions with people that demonstrate a willingness to acknowledge their ignorance or privilege and learn from their mistakes. The following are general guidelines for people seeking assistance in responding to racial bias or discrimination towards them:
- Recognise when you are being racially targeted or discriminated against as it can be direct or indirect at times. Monitor and compare the person (s) attitude, language and behaviour towards others and yourself over a period of time. Be aware of what is racial profiling, prejudice and discrimination
- Decide whether you want to immediately address the comment or behaviour or you would like to walk away and collect evidence over a period of time. This applies to online cyber hate or racism
- If you choose to remain silent and walk away, you can collect evidence e.g. witnesses, time & date of comments or behaviours and present this to their supervisor/ manager/ teacher. If an unsatisfactory response is received from their line manager/ principal, you can escalate up to the CEO of their company until you are satisfied with a reasonable response. If this isn’t achieved, you can forward complaints about the person and the company to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), or Fair Work Obumdsman the Federal Court of Australia depending on the severity.
- For cyber racism, collecting evidence involves taking screenshots of the racist comments over time and presenting this as evidence to the person’s place of work, worship or reporting to the government bodies such as AHRC. You can use the Anti-Hate Spray to actively remove online hate messages or media and assists you in responding to racism or making a complaint. The Online Hate Prevention Institution provides assistance on how to report hate or racism comments.
- If you choose to confront the person, ensure your safety is maintained.
- When confronting the person, use open-ended questions to elicit why they made the comment and their biases
- If you perceive that the person is receptive to constructive feedback then inform them how the comment, attitude or behaviour was inappropriate and the impact it had on you. If not, terminate the conversation and initiate steps 2 to 4.
- It is never an obligation for the survivors to educate the perpetrators because this is the 21st century but if you do decide to take the time to educate the person, this is determined by your level of comfortability, the direction of the conversation and the amount of effort you are willing to share.
Hopefully this guide assists others in responding and formalising their complaints against racism. If you have a different response to combating racism, please comment and share your strategy.
As always keep surving,
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