5 Tips for Responding to Racism

"Racism exists in many forms, from everyday casual racism through to violent acts. As New Zealanders, each person has a responsibility to ensure that we take action that will help to limit both the occurrences and the harm of racism. With the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a rise in bullying and harassment of people  of Chinese and Asian descent here in New Zealand. This is not on. While these are unpredictable and anxious times, we need to be alert to the harm that racism can cause, and we must equip ourselves to give nothing to racism. Let’s also flatten the curve of racism too. "

Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon.

Anti-racism Tips

So how can you help? The Human Rights Commission has gathered some guidance that will hopefully give you the tools and confidence to help eliminate racism. This advice has been gathered from multiple domestic and international sources, which are cited at the bottom of this page.

1. Be an ally, model inclusion, compassion and respect for others

Avoid making negative statements about any racial, ethnic, or religious group. If you are worried about people who might be victims of racism because of their ethnicity or religion, then make sure you reach out to them. Ask them how you can be of assistance should and if they require support.

2. Don’t spread misinformation.

Providing accurate information about people, events, and culture is important.  This is especially important when news reports have negative statements about any specific group. If you are unsure about the authenticity or accuracy of something you are about to share, perhaps try to verify or avoiding sharing as fact. Here are some sources that can help you verify information on Covid-19.

3. Avoid stereotyping people or countries

In order to avoid creating prejudice and mistrust, don’t focus on the nationality, ethnicity, or appearance of those who live where COVID-19 originated.

4. Be an upstander

Where appropriate, intervene to stop any type of harassment or bullying. Speak up when you hear, see, or read discriminatory comments. Understanding the best course of action when confronted with racist behaviour or harassment can be difficult. It could often also depend on the specific scenario, so we've collated some resources that can help you make the best decision. 

We’ve all been a bystander at one time or another. It can be uncomfortable. Often people don’t respond because they don’t want to be a target of abuse themselves. However, standing up to racism can be a powerful sign of support. It can also make the perpetrator think twice about their actions.

5. Support. Record. Report. 

Watch this video on what to do if a racist attack happens to you or in front of you. 

  • Support: Go up to the victim and ask if they are okay, ignore the attacker. Make sure the victim knows they are not alone. Support the victim during and after the attack, they will be feeling a range of emotions, fear, anger, embarrassment – make them feel better. Don’t be a bystander.
  • Record: If you can, record the attack on a phone. It helps to make sure we hold people to account. As soon as you can take notes of the time and place, as well as details of the incident in as much details as possible.
  • Report: Report the attack to the authorities. Call the police. Alert the bus driver, train guard or whomever may be around. Don’t let it slide.

Online: If you are experience or seeing racism online you can also report to Netsafe and see their page for race-based online abuse.

Support: If you are feeling stressed and would like support, then the Ministry of Health has many resources for looking after your mental health and wellbeing.  We’ve also listed some key contact numbers below.

1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)

Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

When responding to racism, always assess the situation and never put your safety at risk. Your actions don’t need to involve confrontation.


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