Tips for addressing racism

Psychological research shows that racist attitudes and behaviours are learned but equally you can combat racism by role modeling tolerance and positively influencing the people around you.

  1. Portray tolerant behaviour as widely accepted

    Emphasising that tolerant behaviour is expected, appropriate and morally right is more likely to be effective than emphasising the scale of the problem.  Talking about how widespread racism is can inadvertently support people’s views and make them believe that they are with the majority in being prejudiced or that racism is “normal”.

  2. Make friends from diverse backgrounds and encourage your children to do so

    Research shows that exposure to people of different backgrounds and having friends from childhood who are from diverse cultural backgrounds reduces racism and increases warmth between groups.

  3. Communicate inclusive attitudes and actions

    We are greatly influenced by our friends, family, colleagues and peers so you can be an anti-racism advocate by talking positively about your friendships with people from different cultural backgrounds within your network.   The more acceptance is seen as normal, the more likely people are to adopt accepting behaviours and attitudes.

  4. Use your status to spread the message

    People with status and influence (politicians, sportspeople, musicians and actors) can use their influence to spread the anti-racism message among those who support and follow them.

  5. Don’t allow racism to seem normal by staying silent

    Silence can be taken for agreement so it is important to speak up against racism, if it is safe and appropriate to do so.  This doesn’t need to be an argument or a rant – a short, warmly delivered, direct contradiction followed by a positive comment is likely to be effective.

  6. Think carefully before calling someone racist

    Calling someone a racist might put them on the defensive. One on one, it is better to talk about your personal experience. Listening to and understanding the basis of someone’s views can help you to make an appropriate and persuasive counter-argument (You love Australia and want to protect what we have but throughout our history people of all races have made contributions to the country).

  7. Politics matter

    Coordinated political and social action is critical for promoting legal change and social change in regard to people’s beliefs and behaviours.