03 9418 9929 enquiries@ceh.org.au

Racism comes in many forms—openly as a racial slur, or subtly as a joke.

Racism is any form of prejudice or discrimination against another due to the belief that one’s race, colour or ethnicity is superior. Whether conscious or unconscious, no form of racism is acceptable. Racism is bad for people’s mental and physical health. On a larger scale, it perpetuates inequities in income, housing, education and employment.

Here are five ways you may witness racism, and ways to call them out:

  1. Hearing someone yell racial or religious slurs at a woman wearing a hijab on the train.

How to call it out:

You could sit with the woman and ask if she’s ok. Letting her know that you don’t agree with them helps her understand that not everyone thinks the same way. You may also choose to report it to the police or railway staff.

2. Reading comments online that are discriminatory in nature.

How to call it out:

If it’s productive, you may defend the person being attacked by commenting that the discriminatory posts are not ok. Otherwise, flag it online (most social media platforms will deal with the comments), or report it to the police.

3. Witnessing your co-workers tease your other co-worker at a work lunch because their ethnic food is ‘weird’.

How to call it out:

Ask them more about their cultural foods, call out the negative behaviour (“what you’re saying is not ok”) or inform your supervisor.

4. Seeing your friend become afraid when someone of colour walks past you both at night.

How to call it out:

Ask your friend an open-ended question, such as “why did you react that way?” This might encourage your friend to explore and unpack their fear, which could reveal some of their biases.

5. Overhearing your friend comment that a person of colour who was born and raised in Australia “speaks good English”.

How to call it out:

Explain that their comment assumes that culturally different people have a weaker grasp of the language.

Racism is illegal in Australia under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and in Victoria under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. If you experience racism, report it to the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission or the Victorian police.