For people who experience racism, the pain sometimes comes as much from words as it does from actions. Indigenous people like Adam Goodes and Latrell Mitchell have spoken of the hurt they feel when they’re subject to racist slurs.
Words and actions used to demean people on the basis of race or colour can be found throughout everyday society and may even be seen as innocuous. Recent government bans on Australian citizens returning from India highlight one way non-white people can be excluded from society.
People of Indian or African heritage who were born in Australia or, as in my case, the United Kingdom, often face questions like, “Where are you from?” The answer is regularly met with some disbelief.
To be subject to t++-he continual presumption that skin colour other than white is country-specific and non-Australian is humiliating, no matter how subtle it may be.
Changing how people act in terms of race and colour means changing their attitudes towards difference. Learning about the context in which racial words originated and why they are hurtful is crucial to achieving this.
Why the history of words matters
Education is an important strategy in the campaign against racist behaviour and language. Intercultural understanding is part of the Australian Curriculum and mandated by its “general capabilities” — which must be taught throughout all learning areas where appropriate.
The current curriculum review recommends a reinforcement of this intercultural understanding. The draft changes offer greater emphasis on First Nations perspectives of Australian history and more acknowledgement of Australia’s multicultural society.
But it’s not enough to just passively incorporate such education. Changing children’s attitudes towards race and, in particular, the idea (or irrelevance) of skin colour, can be best done if they learn by experiencing the negative feelings people of different races, and with different skin, colours can feel.
Read the complete article at: The Conversation