How to be an Upstander against racist bullying behaviour
Racist bullying behaviour is when someone verbally, physically or indirectly targets another person based on the colour of their skin, their culture, ethnicity, nationally or race.
Experiencing racist bullying behaviour can be extremely distressing and it can have a hugely negative impact. It is also discrimination (when someone treats you unfairly or wrongly simply because of who you are), which is against the law under the Equality Act 2010 and is classed as a 'hate crime'.
Discrimination - when someone treats you unfairly or wrongly simply because of who you are.
‘Hate crime’ - a crime motivated by prejudice.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
These are called ‘protected characteristics’.
Racist bullying behaviour can often be exhibited covertly through microaggressions.
Microagressions - brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural or environmental slights or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostility or negativity towards marginalised groups.
It is important to remember that the feelings of the person who experiences racist bullying behaviour are valid and that it can be particularly difficult for them to talk about their experiences of microaggressions.
Some examples of racist bullying behaviour are:
Violence towards someone because of their race, such as hitting, kicking or pushing.
Online derogatory memes/images which target a marginalised group based on their race.
Excluding someone or starting a rumour which targets someone based on their race.
It is important to remember that racist bullying behaviour is never the fault of the person experiencing it and they should never have to change or hide things about themselves.
If you witness racist bullying behaviour, here are some things you can do:
- Ask the person experiencing the racist bullying behaviour if they are ok. It’s a simple question but it shows them that you care and are there to listen to how they are feeling.
- Ask the person how they would like to resolve the issue. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult, such as a teacher, about what has been happening. You could offer to go with them to provide some friendly support. Your teachers will be able to offer support and address the bullying behaviour to ensure it does not continue.
- If you ever witness racist bullying behaviour in which someone is in immediate danger, call 999.
It can be scary when you see someone experiencing racist bullying behaviour but it’s important to be an Upstander, not a bystander. An Upstander is someone who speaks out against harmful behaviour and offers their support to anyone going through it.
The main thing is to think about how you would feel if you were the person experiencing racist bullying behaviour. What would you want others around you to do to support you?
Read this BBC Bitesize Article from The Diana Award’s Deputy CEO, Alex Holmes, for further guidance.
The Diana Award Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are a young person in crisis, you can text DA to 85258. Trained volunteers will listen to how you're feeling and help you think the next step towards feeling better.