Today I came across Ireland social media account stunt backfires after user cops racist and homophobic abuse online. I was beyond saddened to read this level of racism still exists in a so called “first world” and “developed” country.
But the #blacklash for Michelle was just vile. Why? Because she is #black! Michelle tweeted:
“Here’s a perfect example of the trolling I receive on a regular basis. It’s what spurs me on to keep doing what I do https://twitter.com/billowax/status/767660334786023424“
I completely empathies with Michelle, as a woman of colour living in Australia there has been a number of times I have experience modern racism in Australia. Some examples are:
- For my English class in grade 9 we had to write an essay about Australia. I wrote my essay in first person (i.e. I, my etc). My English teacher said that I couldn’t use first person grammar when referring to Australia (i.e. My country) because it is not “my” country.
- During my teenage years I have been rejected by boys for dating because I am black. I know this because I have been told that upfront.
- During my university years I was told by a young man “you are pretty hot for somebody I wouldn’t touch”, and “wouldn’t touch” because of my race and the colour of my skin.
- More recently, just last week actually, I was in a work training course. One of the group exercise was to discuss one of our most memorable holidays. The first question my team member asked me was “where are you from?”. My initial reaction was to state the suburb I live in, but I get asked this question all too often so I replied with my heritage nationality. The team member then promptly replied “Well you are on a permanent holiday in Australia then, aren’t ya”
The thing is, comments like above are hard to take action against. They are just offensive enough but not discriminatory under the western law. So what,we just have to toughen up and lighten up? (no pun intended, although punny). My preference is to stand up against these snarky comments and call out racism.
See, offenders don’t get to decide what is and what isn’t racism (although I am sure they do) or any other form of offensiveness. If somebody says something to me that I find offensive, I almost always call out on it. I pick my battles. Calling out people doesn’t have to be done rudely or be made a big deal of depending on the situation. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying “hey that’s not cool, don’t say that kind of things to me again”.
If we as a society stands up and says this kind of behaviour is not ok, then we are progressing in the right direction. Silence gives consent. Don’t be silent.