March 21st is Race Relations Day … but let’s make a year of it.
Racism is a problem in New Zealand. It isn’t new and it’s growing: 1 in 3 complaints to the Human Rights Commission are about racial discrimination. Most people who experience racism don’t complain and we’re seeing an increase in overt racist attacks. People from some ethnic minorities are reporting that they’re scared and they’re particularly scared for their children.
Many Kiwis don’t think racism is a problem. Yet those of us who don’t consider ourselves ‘racist’ still allow casually racist thoughts, actions or comments in our lives.
Racial prejudice and intolerance starts this small, in quiet places, in our everyday lives. It is passed on to the next generation with the subtlest of teachings. When it becomes normalised it turns into overt racism and extremism. We believe that racism has no place in our future and with your help we will starve it.
When we encounter these little pieces of racism, because we’re human and we don’t like tension, we laugh it off, excuse it, diffuse it, pretend it isn’t what it is. And that covers it up. In doing this, we passively agree.