There are lots of things you can do if you witness racist behaviour. Bystander intervention may be able to stop a racist incident, prevent it from escalating and potentially prevent or minimise social or emotional harm to the targeted person or group.
Taking a personal stand also contributes to the establishment of social norms which make racist behaviour unacceptable in our community and has the potential to affect individuals' attitudes in the long term.
What action you decide to take will depend on the situation and what you deem to be safe and constructive. Bystander anti-racism need not always be confrontational and may include:
- reporting the incident to someone in a position of authority
- reporting the incident to police or if on campus to Safety and security
- reporting the incident to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
- seeking the help of friends, passers-by or colleagues
- interrupting or distracting the perpetrator
- confronting or disagreeing with the perpetrator if you feel safe to do so
- stating to the perpetrator that you find the behaviour upsetting
- calling the behaviour out as racism or discrimination if you feel safe to do so
- recording the incident on your phone or other device if you feel safe to do so
- taking note of anything that may later help identify the perpetrator
- comforting or supporting the person or group that has been targeted.
References and further reading:
- University of Western Sydney - Bystander Anti-racism
- Racism. It stops with me - What can you do?
- VicHealth - Choosing to act: Bystander action to prevent race-based discrimination
- Nelson, J. K., Dunn, K. M., & Paradies, Y. (2011). Bystander anti-racism: A review of the literature. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 11(1), 263-284