Tips to help manage low level or casual racism
Written by Audrey Tang on April 27, 2022
In this week’s Wellbeing Lounge, we had the pleasure of speaking with The United African Association; The Albanian Cultural Association; and The Sikh Community – Waterside connect on the importance of connecting with our heritage… Listen Again Here. But I also cannot ignore that there is a darker side to being multi-cultural, and at the end of the show I gave tips for helping children manage racism, and I thought I would reiterate them here.
While racism is a hate crime and it is against the law, in some cases it might be preferable NOT to get involved directly – especially if name calling could turn to violence. However that does NOT mean it is acceptable.
- Encourage children to talk about it
- Raise awareness about it in schools – as a parent you might even request that you run an assembly on racism and how people can feel; AND/OR also encourage cultural days where others are encouraged to learn about different cultures.
- If the child is unable to talk about it – write down the incident (ideally as close to it happening as possible so that the facts remain clear) – then that can be used when they find a trusted adult to speak to. If applicable – and this is more relevant to if you see it – video it (again, as long as you do not risk harm to yourself).
- Encourage children to look out for each other and again to speak up to a trusted adult if they SEE racism.
- Explain to children how the news can be biased and how this can make people think things that are not true.
- Be aware of “casual racism” within friendships and “call in” anyone who is using racist gestures (for example “slanty eyes”) as a joke – watch your own feelings here, when calling in, it is giving the person the benefit of the doubt and reminding them that the behaviour, even as a joke is not appropriate. Help them understand (such a lesson might even serve them well as they grow up!) (Remember, racism is like toilet humour – it’s functioning at the very lowest form of intelligence).
Hackney Chinese Community Centre are holding free counselling in Cantonese and Mandarin, ESAS offer free group sessions for people experiencing racism trauma, and Vietnamese Mental Health Services offer culturally sensitive counselling services. If you’re looking for something mindful, Kind Red Packet has put together a database of ESEA led yoga and meditation classes.
In the United Kingdom:
In the United States:
What can we do ourselves
- Acknowledge how you feel – without judging yourself/the feelings as good or bad
- Focus on who you are – that is your VALUES and what is important to you – as they will often outweigh the superficial visual
- Especially growing up within two cultures, you may be trying to “hide” your ethnic background to be as inconspicuous as possible in the new community in which you are placed…but you might find that your life is enriched by learning more about your heritage – and perhaps you will be able to form connections with others through talking about it and educating them, as well as being a role model so that they can feel more comfortable exploring theirs.
- Make sure the people you surround yourself with those who share your values, AND also understand your sensitivities – again without judgment. It helps if we are not feeling we have to defend our feelings in front of our own friends!!
- OBSERVE YOUR OWN behaviours too – maybe YOU are also judging others. What are you quick to accuse others of yet slow to accept?
- Find A WAY of speaking up – even if it is reporting it outside the event – and then check in with the person you observed it happening to, if appropriate. I will call out “yellow face” in theatre, and don’t get me started on the pronunciation of Sepang in formula 1…and before I’m told that’s petty – I call them Re-al Madrid! A name is a name – and the same spelling – like Sepang and Tang – my surname – CAN have different pronunciations!!
Dr Audrey Tang hosts The Wellbeing Lounge, Tuesday nights 9pm – for all things health and wellness.