Sydney siege response shows power of community will against racism

Sydney Harbour Bridge at dusk 

Citizen action against racism following the Sydney siege, including the rise of #illridewithyou, shows there is a valuable resource in the community that we need to mobilise further, says a social geography researcher.

Professor Kevin Dunn, Dean of the University of Western Sydney School of Social Sciences and Psychology leads Australia's largest anti-racism research project – Challenging Racism.

"We need people to speak up and speak out against racism as they have done in the past 24 hours but we need people to do this every day," says Professor Dunn.

"Unfortunately research shows only 1 in 3 do take action when they see racism in the community."

"The main reasons people don't take action are fear of being the target themselves or lack of awareness of what to do."

Professor Dunn says there are ways citizens can safely take action when they see racism in public places, for example:

report it to authorities such as police, security or management
use humour to make fun of the person making the racist comments
gather like minded people and make a group intervention
"One of the most effective ways to take action in public is show empathy for the person being targeted. The 'I'll ride with you' hashtag is an example of a successful grassroots response where the community stands together against racism," says Professor Dunn.

"It empowers individuals and the community to confidently and safely stand up against racism wherever and whenever they see it."

Professor Dunn and colleagues at anti-racism charity, All Together Now, have created online resources to help people tackle racism head on:

What to do if you witness racism on the bus

Everyday Racism smart phone app

Speaking up against racism


Photo: Paul Grocott

17 December 2014

Media contact: Paul Grocott, Senior Media Officer

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