Types of Anti-racism Initiatives

uws staudents

1. Celebrations of cultural diversity

Local government areas or townships can host vibrant cultural festivals and fairs as a means of publicly championing the benefits of cultural diversity. These types of events should send a clear message that the broader community is shared by people of a range of backgrounds, and that everyone – despite their race, culture or religion – is welcomed and accepted.

With the limited, occasional nature of these events, a concern is that they can exoticise cultural difference and position non-Anglo cultures as a curiosity for Anglo enjoyment. They can also affirm minority views that Anglo-Australian homogeneity is the norm, while cultural diversity is the exception.

These concerns need to be kept in mind when using celebratory-type events and be used in concert with other anti-racism initiatives.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

2. Provide accurate information to dispel 'false beliefs'

Providing accurate information on cultural groups, behaviours and traditions can be a useful way of dispelling any 'false beliefs' that may exist within a community. Research has suggested that accurate information decreases acceptance of such beliefs. However, while false beliefs are dispelled, in many instances, prejudice remained high. Thus, providing accurate information is not a stand-alone activity and be used in concert with other anti-racism initiatives. (See "The Provision of Information" in Pederson, Walker, Paradies & Guerin, forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

3. Engage local residents in conversations and consultations

Run workshops which encourage members of the community to discuss issues of racism and cultural prejudice. The aim should not be to talk 'at' people, but rather to engage people in a conversation where they are able to freely discuss the drivers of prejudice.

In these conversations and consultations, it is essential that sensitivities be taken into account. A key priority is that mutual respect is encouraged during workshops – there is no 'right' or 'wrong' answer and individuals or groups should not be identified as racists. (See "Involving the Audience with Respect from Both Sides" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

Such events will be important for developing a sense of the social context for the attitudes, opinions and beliefs in a community.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

4. Leverage emotions

A way of reducing prejudice is to leverage people's emotions. The general idea is to encourage people to feel empathy for other people – to see the world from other people's perspectives, or to take the time to 'walk in someone else's shoes'. (See "Choose Emotions to Tackle Wisely" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

This strategy or suggestion needs to be carefully planned, and take into account the cultural context of the region. For example, the target groups in each region are likely to determine the emotion that will work best and why.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

5. Identify positive commonalities and diversities

Some research has worked with participants to identify the ways in people of diverse cultural backgrounds have similarities and common interests. It is important for 'positive' commonalities to be emphasised. There is a risk that identifying differences may draw attention to the 'negative differences' that are often portrayed in media. (See "Emphasize Commonality and Difference" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

There is however the risk that identifying the commonalities between races or cultures will reinforce a homogeneity towards Anglo Australians – the belief that minority groups need to 'be like us to fit in'. (See "Emphasize Commonality and Difference" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

^ Return to top

6. Social and cultural context

When addressing the existence of racism, it is important to consider the specific location and geographic variations of each region. In particular, it is important to be mindful of the social and cultural context in which attitudes, opinions, beliefs and prejudices form, as well as the differing needs of particular localities in delivering anti-racism strategies and suggestions. (See "Meet Local Needs" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action "Education & Refugee Students from Southern Sudan" (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

7. Highlight contradictions and inconsistencies in false beliefs, prejudices and values

The purpose of this strategy is to draw attention to the inconsistencies in a person's values and prejudices. For example, for people who have egalitarian values but high levels of prejudice, it is important to draw attention to these contradictions and inconsistencies.

When following this suggestion/strategy, it is important to keep in mind that people with contradictory beliefs are often able to rationalise it – for example, they are able to explain why some ethnic groups are acceptable and others are not. (See "Dissonance" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

8. Evaluation

When implementing any anti-racism strategies or initiatives, it is important to conduct full evaluations of their effectiveness, as well as to conceive of the impacts of the initiatives in a broad way. (See "Evaluation" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming). For example, there could be changes in the levels of public awareness of a region, there could be important policy changes, or increases in the number of local lobbyists or activists.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

9. Articulate consensuses and social norms

Social norms are considerably powerful and can legitimise poor attitudes. There is mounting evidence that telling people that their views were not consensually shared can helped to reduce prejudice. There is also evidence that spreading the word that the majority of people oppose racism can increase anti-racist views.

Prejudiced individuals are more likely to over-estimate their level of support from the 'community', so being told that 'this is not the case' appears to be useful in reducing prejudice. (See "Consensus: Building and Invoking Social Norms" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

^ Return to top

10. Cross-cultural contact

This strategy encourages individuals to have contact with members of cultural groups for which they have some disdain, a fear or stereotyping.

To assist this strategy, participants need to hear and discuss issues and cultures of different groups. The use of DVDs may be useful in providing information about particular groups prior to contact, rather than confronting these differences in a workshop environment. (See "Arranging Appropriate Contact" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

This strategy or suggestion needs to be carefully planned and managed as contact may not necessarily lead to positive attitudes. For example, increased tensions may result if a group is late or does not say thank you, etc.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

11. Describing self and group identities

This strategy encourages individuals to identify their own identity and cultural biases. This includes the identification of what being Australian means to them, and determining whether or not they are inclusive in developing that identity. This strategy would also interrogate 'white privilege' and use it as a strategy to increase people's awareness of the 'blind privilege' that comes with being 'Anglo-Australian'. (See "Group Identities" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

This strategy or suggestion needs to be carefully planned, and take into account the cultural context of the region.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

12. Addressing the use of language in maintaining and regulating relationships

This strategy seeks to address those people who use certain language which stereotypes or denigrates any minority groups. The aim is to find a place for positive talk within the popular Australian discourse, and to discourage 'humour' which can be potentially harmful or hurtful.
This strategy may be met with some opposition as racist talk, such as calling someone a slang name for their cultural group or telling racist jokes, is a common occurrence. Humour has an important social function and any public rebuttal of these jokes may cause a person to lose their social standing. (See "Finding Alternative Talk" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

13. Identifying functions of participants attitudes and prejudices

This strategy seeks to identify the source and function of attitudes. For example, political rhetoric of asylum seekers as 'queue jumpers' is a source, and the function may be that a person feels this is a value violation, i.e. that 'queue jumpers' take away spots for 'genuine refugees'.

It is also important to draw on people's own experiences as well as identifying the origin of such attitudes. (See "The Source and Function of Attitudes" in Pederson, et al. forthcoming).

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Pedersen, A, Walker, I, Wise, M 2005 ''Talk does not cook rice': beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action'(opens in a new window)

14. Addressing prejudice through socio-demographics

A thorough understanding of socio-demographics is important for developing anti-racism strategies. For example, the knowledge that prejudicial attitudes are higher in men with right-wing political views and less formal education may be useful when developing strategies that target this specific section of the community.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

15. Gender of target person

The existence of negative attitudes towards certain genders in certain out-groups is important for developing anti-racism strategies. For example, Middle Eastern men have reported more discrimination in various settings than Middle Eastern women. Although Muslim women bare a good deal of the brunt of anti-Islamic racism, especially those wearing hijab. Likewise, there are more negative attitudes towards Muslim men.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

^ Return to top

16. Religious beliefs

Often religion has become a surrogate for race and therefore religious beliefs can impact on attitudes towards different groups. (For example, those of Middle Eastern appearance are automatically considered Muslim.) This is harder to deal with and may require assistance from religious institutions. Alternatively, in some countries those with stronger levels of religiosity have been found to be more tolerant of religious minorities, more so than those who were nominally religious or atheist. Leveraging this 'good faith' for inter-faith dialogue can be very productive.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

17. Personality and individual differences

An interesting point to keep in mind, is that personality types can correlate with prejudicial attitudes. For example, those who believe in right-wing authoritarianism are likely to have low self-esteem (if they don't feel good about themselves, they won't like other people). On the other hand though, some studies have found no correlation between the two. Although, people who hold prejudice about one group are more likely to be prejudiced against another.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

18. Respect / Acknowledgement

Formally acknowledging the traditional owners of the land can be an effective means of reducing tension and antipathy towards Indigenous Australians.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

19. Experiences of positive cross-cultural contact

A good starting point for workshops may be discussions of the positive experiences of tolerance. Encourage participants to reflect on the positive contact they may have had with people of other cultural backgrounds in the local area.

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

20. Everyday anti-racism

A good deal of everyday racism occurs within public places, such as on the street, at sporting events or in workplace lunchrooms and school yards. Victims of racism are especially wounded by everyday racism if members of the public neglect to intervene on their behalf - if people stand-by and don't do anything. Encouraging citizens to bear witness against everyday racism can have the opposite effect, affirming the sense of victims that people see them as fellow citizens who are worthy of peer support.  Everyday anti-racism is about asking citizens to take responsibility for what happens in public space, and helping them to do so. Bystanders need to feel empowered and safe to stand up for their fellow citizens who are being racially victimised. 

See real life examples of this suggestion in action (opens in a new window)

See social science discussions / critique of these types of anti-racism Nelson, J. Dunn, KM., Paradies Y., Pedersen A., Sharpe S., Hynes M. & Guerin B., 2010: Review of Bystander Approaches in Support of Preventing Race Based Discrimination (opens in a new window) 

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

^ Return to top

21. Addressing racism structurally / institutionally

Complex factors contribute to race-based discrimination and supporting diversity. Efforts to reduce discrimination also need to be targeted within organisational, community and broader societal structures. This approach emphasises the need for many different types of action and also highlights the value of working at multiple levels and across settings.

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

Trenerry, B., Franklin, H. & Paradies Y., 2010: Review of audit and assessment tools, programs and resources in workplace settings to prevent race-based discrimination and support diversity, (opens in a new window)

22. Increasing organisational accountability

Increasing organisational accountability is important for achieving changes in social norms and for reducing inequalities in power and resources within organisations. 'Organisation' can  include workplaces, providers of services (e.g. schools, libraries, health services, local governments, banks), and formal structures for a community of interest (e.g. a sports club).

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)

Trenerry, B., Franklin, H. & Paradies Y., 2010: Review of audit and assessment tools, programs and resources in workplace settings to prevent race-based discrimination and support diversity (opens in a new window)

23. Using social marketing and media 

A broad range of media can be used in anti-discrimination and pro-diversity initiatives, including television, radio, print, the internet and the arts. Communications and social marketing strategies can raise awareness of race-based discrimination, impact directly on attitudes and behaviours, and contribute to the development and strengthening of positive social norms.

See Paradies Y, Chandrakumar L, Klocker N, Frere M, Webster K, Burrell M, et al. 2009 Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria (opens in a new window)