What to do When Faced with Racial Discrimination

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Racial discrimination is now more recognized these days, even though it’s been a major issue eating through the core of society for countless years. Embracing cultural diversity can enrich our lives in many ways if you look at it from a social, artistic, or economic perspective.

However, it can be challenging to have a different culture and language. This could range from being mistaken by others to witnessing straight-up racial abuse or feeling unrepresented. This article could be useful if:

  • racism is witnessed by someone you meet
  • you want practical advice on what to do when faced with racial discrimination or help someone who is racist
  • you want to know your choices to help others deal with prejudice

Although you may not personally face these struggles, there are many different ways that you can help people who may have faced racial discrimination in the past.

Expressing support towards others in this way suggests that you are an ally, which is a vital aspect of being a true friend. Nonetheless, building a fairer world for everyone can also have a broader ripple effect.

racial discrimination

Standing up against racial discrimination

When you think of being an ally to people from different cultural backgrounds, otherwise known as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people, the first thing that would come to mind is the massive, brave effort to stand up to someone who is racist. It would be helpful if you feel secure, know what to do and say, and feel comfortable doing so. But these conditions can be daunting, and not knowing how to respond is common. In this case, some of the main things to do are:

  • Remain calm: This will help you talk to the individual who is discriminatory in a manner that is productive, rather than turning it into a screaming match.
  • Ask them why they have an individual perspective.
  • Present an alternate view on the dilemma to them.
  • Show empathy for the individual who is being faced with racial discrimination: This might help the person who is being racially insensitive to see that the person they are targeting is no different from anyone else.
  • If necessary, think about making notes on, or documenting the incident and reporting it to the police.

Have an open conversation

In a less hostile environment, you would prefer to give your help by holding a one-on-one talk with your friend if you have observed them being targeted or know they have been victimized in the past. Let them know you’re on their side and that you think they’re wrong about the prejudice they’ve encountered. Racism can make you feel ashamed, intimidated and lonely, so it can help your friend feel supported by understanding that you’re on their side.

Ask if you can support them

Sometimes, asking them is the best way to know how you can support a friend. Without making any assumptions, listen to what they have to say. You may ask them how they feel about their experiences or things in the media that they have seen, what their thoughts and opinions are, and what you can do to help them.

Having these types of interactions provides people with the space to express themselves from various cultural backgrounds, which can give you a better sense of what you can do to help them and how to follow through.

More awareness equals to more motivation

Broadening your knowledge of culture will make you feel more motivated as an ally. You might do this by going to cultural food festivals, writing to a foreign penpal, or reading/watching / listening to stories from other people. There are loads of foreign films and documentaries on SBS on Demand and Netflix, or if you’re a bookworm, you could check out a few books on how to explore new cultures.

It is also a significant part of this learning experience to know more about the history of your country. Getting a greater understanding of the colonial history and former government policies of the country you are in will assist you in understanding how and why racial discrimination still exists today.

Be a supporter

You can do this individually by discussing the problem with your friends and inspiring them to follow suit, and by sharing insightful articles on social media or making your social posts on the subject. You can also campaign as part of a team by joining a neighbourhood group or university club. Educational activities and events are also coordinated by these associations that allow you to be more active and campaign locally.

Share the mic with other voices

Supporting CALD individuals often means letting their voices come through as they have in-person and online conversations. An example scenario might be when you see something in the media that is racially controversial.

Your first reaction could be to chat about it with your friends or write about it online. Nonetheless, if the controversy involves a community that isn’t yours, you might overshadow the message of the people at the centre of the situation. What you should do is share an article, post, or video from someone of that race so that more people can hear their views.

listening instead of talking

Don’t forget to look after yourself

Being proud of your position as an ally is one thing to bear in mind in all of this. In your daily life, the steps you can take to help people of all backgrounds not only make a difference to your friends’ happiness and well-being, but also lead to a greater positive impact on the planet.

Nevertheless, being a passionate supporter does take its toll. It can be frustrating and daunting to stand up for others, help out a friend who’s going through a hard time, or hear tales of racial discrimination. Remember that you still need to feel good yourself in order to make others feel better, so take time to enjoy some self-care, whether it’s meditation, playing a video game or hanging out with friends, whatever works for you. You can still reach out for support if you need to.

In the end, being an ally can start as a supportive friend. Still, all steps towards an equal society are to stand up to racial discrimination, listen to and amplify the voices of CALD people, learn more about history and culture, and publicly advocate.

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