What can I do?

When you take action, you can influence the behaviours of others and feel better about yourself. You can also contribute to making prejudice unacceptable. Silence can be interpreted as approval. Here are just a few suggestions, based on Australian and international studies: 

Be ready. This won’t be the last time you witness discrimination. Imagine yourself not staying silent and speaking up. Change happens slowly, small steps count.

Assess your surroundings. A heated exchange with a stranger can turn into a threatening situation.  Is the speaker with a group of people? Are you alone? Are children present? This may not be the right time to take a stand.

Say nothing. A questioning glance might be enough – it is non-confrontational and you can keep moving if the situation feels awkward or unsafe.

Say something. Be calm and respectful and avoid directly judging the speaker. Make it about the behaviour, not the person and they might listen.

Find or be an ally. Who is around you? Is there someone else looking angry or upset? Make eye contact. They might support you if you speak up. Does the person being abused appear to want assistance? Support them through words or actions.

Be honest. As you watch for moments of everyday prejudice, don’t overlook yourself. It’s not hard to catch yourself out in a biased thought or action.