Have you heard about the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign?
Racism in Australia
Racism is surprisingly prevalent in Australia despite the fact that we are such a multi-cultural society. We’ve all heard the stories about people being abused on public transport for being from non-white backgrounds. Just a few weeks ago, in a video recorded by other passengers, a young school-boy of Asian descent was abused on a bus by a 50-year-old woman. Racial slurs were thrown his way. The woman, who admitted being drunk on the video footage, yelled at him to “get a passport,” and go back on his boat.
Is Australia a racist country?
It seems that the question of whether or not Australia is a racist country is not the point of the racism debate. Gillian Triggs, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission and acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, notes:
“I work across a host of issues yet I am never asked, “Is Australia a sexist country?”, “Is Australia an ageist country?”, “Is Australia a homophobic country?” Instead, the commissioners who specialise in these areas and I are quizzed about the actual issue, its effects, its ramifications and the possible solutions…. There is racism everywhere. Does that make it OK? No. Is it harmful? Yes. Is Australia a racist country? It’s simply not the point.”
What is the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign all about?
Racism exists in all aspects of life and there is one in particular that was the force behind this particular campaign. Sports players out on the field have spoken about being witness to and a victim of racist tirades. Adam Goodes was recently in the middle of an AFL match when a young girl of only 13 years verbally abused him by calling him an “ape”. While the girl did later apologise to Goodes, and being so young was unaware of the implications of what she said, the prevalence of racism around Australia goes to show that this is the environment our young people are growing up in.
“Why do people think that something as permanent as race, something we have no choice in, can make us better than another person?”
In August 2012, developed through a partnership led by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the National Anti-Racism Strategy was launched. Between 2012 and 2015, the project aims to
- Ask individuals to become part of a community of people who are committed to leading by example,
- Develop materials to assist in the promotion of anti-racism messages, and
- Develop education tools for a range of audiences, amongst a number of other practices.
The National Anti-Racism Strategy holds three main aims.
- Ensure more Australians recognise that racism is unacceptable in our community
- Give more Australians the tools & resources to take practical action against racism
- Empower individuals & organisations to prevent & respond effectively to racism
Impact of the campaign
The “Racism: It Stops With Me” video has been watched over 200,000 times since the AHR Commission posted it on Youtube last month.
Last week, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched “What You Say Matters” , an anti-racism music video featuring hip hop artist BrothaBlack and students from James Meehan High School in Macquarie Fields. This was a follow up to the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign, and hopes to influence and educate students in schools across the nation.
“Racism makes me question myself and why things have to be this way … I wondered one day what it would be like to be white and how much better my life would probably be. That was a low point.”
Check out some behind the scenes footage from the “What You Say Matters” campaign.
What can we do?
Spread the word! Download the videos, share them with everyone you know, and get talking. Create a discussion about why stamping out racism is important, and why being a “casual racist” is un-Australian.
“I don’t see that casual racism is acceptable. People who perceive they have the right and luxury to engage in racist practices do not understand that they are adding to a lifetime of injury for those of us who have had to navigate racism.”