Who’s next door?

We pride ourselves on our generosity and the diversity of our society. Walking down our city streets we are surrounded by difference.

But how do we feel when difference moves in next door? Or sits next to us on the train or in the classroom?

Someone looks at you, says something to you, or turns away making you feel anxious, threatened and alone. Or you see it happen to someone else and you feel uncomfortable, angry and powerless.

Experience another point of view. You might even see yourself.  


Have you seen or experienced this kind of scenario before? How would you react? How did it make you feel?

I feel different when people look at me and they kind of like assume things about me that aren’t true. And they’ve got that squinty kind of eye and they think you’re really suss.  Sen Jayaweera, Melbourne, 2010

Why didn’t I say anything? Fear. Not fear of an awkward social situation – but fear for our physical safety in a situation involving racial aggression. All but one person in the [train] carriage strongly disapproved of what happened – but no one could speak up until the guy left. Tim Watts, government and telco adviser and blogger, Melbourne, 2010

To share your response use the Comments Box at the bottom of this page. Selected written responses will be shown on our website. Ibrahim eyes

Comments (35)

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Tina 19 May, 2011 14:10
Great video - shows that even the good "anti-racists", while having good intentions - can get it wrong (eg. the woman with the child assumed that the victim had just arrived in Australia, even though he had lived lived in Oz for most of his life.
Peter the gibberer 20 May, 2011 09:47
But this sort of thing doesn't happen any more.
abdi 9 September, 2012 19:24
yeh it does stil happen mate
Alex 17 April, 2013 10:27
Of course it doesn't, just like sexism it's all in the past. Nothing to be concerned about, unless of course you are a woman or not white/anglo
RMN 9 May, 2013 08:15
White people always say this! "Things like this"??? I am of African descent and let me tell you, every day I see or am a victim of silent and blatant racism. People make all kind of assumptions and think they're better because of their skin. Open your eyes!
India 7 September, 2015 14:30
what a nieve thing to say, this still happens, more often when we would like to think.
Moya 30 May, 2011 15:57
For anyone who believes that this video does not reflect everyday reality, I quote a letter published in the Herald Sun, 30/5/2011: 'I felt so ashamed as an Aussie to witness the behaviour of a fellow ‘60ish’ chap on the Echuca-bound train from Southern Cross last Thursday. He told a young Asian girl that the seats facing him were reserved – then moments later allowed two Aussie male strangers to sit in them. The girl was humiliated.' Ross, Bendigo.
Jo 17 October, 2015 22:11
With my reply I plead that you don't read it with a racial slant, I am far from racist I embrace every person on their values and attitude. With your "60ish chap" on the train did it occur to you at any point that this chap may of been in an Asia based war? Does that make someone a racist if sitting across from a person of a certain culture will cause them distress? Does anyone have the right to make that judgement any more than judge someone dependant on their skin colour?
C.Planet 31 May, 2011 15:32
We're all citizens of the world, we need to start looking past the colour of a person's skin. Last I checked we all bleed the same colour.
Lisa Lionheart 31 May, 2011 15:34
Lack of understanding leads to ignorance. We all have the potential to change our perceptions, open our hearts and minds and act with respect and empathy.
RMN 9 May, 2013 08:19
Lack of understanding of what, our humanity? I don't get it. Some white folks believe their skin gives have privilege, that they must tolerate others' skin. How absurd! Tell me what shapes your perceptions? When and how did they become skewed?
William 19 July, 2011 14:40
Until the colour of your eyes are no more importance than the colour of your skin, everywhere is ignorance.
Marnie Kerridge 5 September, 2011 12:28
The captions do not work on any of the videos even when the CC says on. This is vital for deaf and hearing impaired people. Is there any chance of fixing this?
Jonny 8 September, 2011 16:39
Hi Marnie, thanks for your comment. Our web team are working on this bug. The captions are working OK for each video, but not when they're presented as a group. We hope to have it sorted out soon.
Jess 10 September, 2011 09:55
The sentiments from Lara express what i believe the majority of white privileged Australians feel when witnessing the 'every day' acts of racism. What is to be said? How is it to be said? do we have a right to say it?I think that last point is irrelevant. Despite feeling we possess the right or otherwise to speak, if the feeling is there that an injustice has been committed against another fellow we ultimately have a moral obligation to speak up. imagine if everyone began to speak up. To condemn such behaviour. Human rights matter, not just when it is another privilged white person whose rights are being infringed. Innocent or not.. everyone regardless of skin colour, mother tongue, country of birth has the right to exist in this world free from such blatant subjugation. I would like to think that next time i see something i will have the moral fiber and fortitude to speak up!
Sera 5 October, 2011 23:44
My husband is Aboriginal and this kind of stuff still happens all the time. I'm pretty vocal, but when I'm with him, he'd rather I keep my mouth shut, I guess for fear of causing a scene and drawing attention to him/the situation, and perhaps reinforcing negative stereotypes (as Ibrahim in the video said). The other day I stood up for a shop assistant who was being verbally abused and bullied by a customer, in turn I was abused by him too, everyone else just stood around watching :(
Moya 2 December, 2011 12:14
For anyone interested in an extreme example of racist behavour in England, have a look at this article from the Huffington Post which includes a link to the YouTube video of a woman hurling racial abuse at passengers on a London tram: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nabeela-zahir/my-tram-experience-race_b_1119605.html?ref=mostpopular
steve 21 March, 2012 14:23
Well I totally missed it, had to rewatch it! I didn't hear any racial slurs or see any violence. If I'd seen that from the outside I would have classed it as a bit rude, but not racist.
Ronni 18 June, 2013 16:44
Steve, your comment is far too sensible. In this fictional scenario, (and yes, it is fictional, the characters are portrayed by actors), only three people on the tram seem to find the behavior of one particular male offensive. Some other posters seem to have forgotten we viewers are the only ones privy to what's going on inside the heads of Ibrahim, Sue, Rob and Lara. By the way, this has all been scripted, shot and edited by a writer and director with a particular agenda. The casting is also deliberate - Ibrahim is young and handsome,Rob is plain and pudgy etc. But I digress. If you first watched the video with the sound down might you have come to a different conclusion? Without knowing what was going on inside the characters' heads how would your own prejudices help form that conclusion? It is also interesting that Sue is being given such a hard time by other posters. Sure, she makes a ridiculous assumption about Ibrahim but I think a mother's first priority would be her young son. Why is this middle aged woman expected stand up to the male bully? Because she's also white? So presumably her white guilt should propel her to act when her Asian Australian friend refuses to do so? Ibrahim is not even prepared to make a stand. Now I think about it,it says a lot about the video makers,to suggest that white people can read every potentially explosive situation accurately and so have a duty to get in touch with their inner superhero and save any cowering people of colour.
vvvvv 8 May, 2012 14:56
if he didn't want to sit next to him that desperately he should've gone down the tram a little bit more and sat in the spare seat that the fellow with the headphones was occuping. intimidating him was mean to the extreme.
Paige Evans 22 June, 2012 14:51
From watching the video I see how the coloured people and white people are against each other. The white guy shows so much disrespect for the coloured guy in this clip. he chose to not sit next to the coloured guy which is fine but for him to then tell the guy to be quiet because he was on the phone was just rude. And it was obviously because he was coloured. There were another few seats on the tram so why didn’t he go and sit down on one? Because he wanted to intimidate the coloured guy. We are all human and deserve to be treated that way, skin colour shouldn’t matter anymore. From the coloured guy we did see that when he was on the phone he had fluent English which shocked me and shows me that he has been in Australia for a pretty long time so we shouldn’t assume otherwise. What makes the white guy so special?! Everyone deserves to be treated equally it doesn’t matter about their skin colour. In today’s society this doesn’t happen anymore, we see it once in a while but it would never be as obvious, you would never make a coloured person feel uncomfortable and vice versa.
Priyanka Shah 23 June, 2012 23:04
This video is a great way of expressing the day to day discrimination happening even in today’s world. We all consider ourselves as being belonging to the 21st century but the things like discrimination is still present within us whether we are the victim or are the ones who discriminate others. People still get discriminated whether it is in the form of color, race or religion, people always find one or other way of discriminating others. The reason why the white guy discriminated the Ibrahim was just because of his skin color and this is evident in the video when the white guy enters the tram and starts to make faces towards him. If it was not for the discrimination based on the color than why the white guy did not make faces towards the other people sitting on the tram and he takes the matter even further by telling the Ibrahim to slow down his voice. If the voice was really giving him a trouble than why did not he choose to sit on other place of the tram? We all do not like to be discriminated whether it is in the form of color, race or religion, we live in a free society and we all have full rights to be treated equally as a citizen of Australia. Your skin color does not define your real identity and just because you are white does not mean you have superiority against other race. We as a human should never forget that there is only one race that exists in this world and that is “human race” so I don’t think there is any place for discrimination in this world. People who choose to discriminate others should position themselves first to feel how it feels to be discriminated before discriminating others.
Akeer 25 June, 2012 12:06
Watching that video I felt angry, angry and annoyed. I’m sick and tired of the naïve individuals that pity and feel sympathetic to people like me, those that believe just because they don’t express the same racial arrogance as others their not just as ignorant. It isn’t people like Rob that annoy me; people like him are just something to feel sorry for. His small-mindedness and ignorance is something he has been taught. At least he doesn’t hide behind a fake smile and courteously. Pathetic as his behaviour was I would rather that then for him to sit next to me constantly staring at me letting me know how disgusted he is of me with every glance, but giving me a smile anyway. People like Sue are the individuals that frustrate and completely anger me. She thinks by say feeling ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’ by Rob actions it makes her a better person. It doesn’t make her any better than him. The fact that she was ignorant enough to quickly assume that Ibraham was ‘new to the country’ completely angers me. She may not realise it but pitting him, feeling sorry for him, feeling as if he is some pathetic non-English speaking immigrants makes her just as bad as Rob. Regardless of her ‘good’ intentions she still held the same stereotypical views that will always make her separate herself from people that are ‘different’. Although her behaviour was different from Robs she still carries the same underlying attitudes that will quickly be pasted on to her son.
emilyscott 27 June, 2012 22:57
After watching the video, it really opens your eyes to racial discrimination that occurs in Australia, amoung general society. I find that our generation has become oblivious to discrimination occuring in this day and age, partially to do with the fact discriminatio is not quite extreme as it has been in the past. However it fustrates me that it only takes one person just like Rob, the man standing in the train, to give the rest of us a 'bad name'. It is easy to understand to understand most of the peoples' individual point of views. I understand and sympathise for Ibrahim, i would not want to be in his position. I would not want to live my life being discriminated against for a decision that i have no control over. It is not just and in no means right. However i can aklso understand and in some ways relate to sues' point of view. It is easy to say to yourself that you need to say something, but sometimes it is harder to act appon it. There have been quite a few times when i have felt the urge to speak up and say something to someone who is doing something morally wrong, but find yourself afraid of the outcome. We can't deny that discrimination is in Australia and that it isn't a problem. But can we really pin it down to a particular type or group of people, to be the problem or solution?
Cheyenne 28 June, 2012 18:21
After watching this video, i felt very sympethetic for the guy the victim of this discrimination. He was being a good person and making room for the other guy who didnt have seat. For the guy to disrespect that kind individual is so wrong and shouldnt happen to anyone. In Australia there is many different cultures everywhere. All over the world there contains many different people and cultures. We are all unique and no one should be treated that way because of their skin colour. There was more than just him speaking other people were making noise so i dont understand after that guy gave a seat up for him he would throw it in his face and tell him to be quiet? I dont see how the white guy is more superior than the other guy. People shouldnt be discriminated against for anything their hair, eye skin colour. their religion beliefs we are all different and deserve to betreated fairly and with respect. No one else moved for the guy so instead of approaching him in a negative way with a nasty attitude he should of thanked him and appreciated that someone did move and for him to just look at him in disgust is so wrong. This annoys me because were all human its not like someone with a different eye colour or skin colour comes from a different planet.
josh 28 June, 2012 20:20
This short film has clearly illustrated the raw and unjust society that we have created. We have allowed one another for too long to stand over those who are viewed as “different”. For too long people have been bystanders to horrible and extremely rude acts such as the one lain out before us. It is high time that people begin to understand that they need to be accountable for their actions. These actions can be as simple as reminding a rude person of their current flaw and how what they are doing is merely embarrassing themselves. This film reminds us all of how a simple act of rudeness is sometimes more significant than we would first think. It shows how little people think about what they are doing and how it might cognitively effect another person.
Ryan 18 July, 2012 22:21
After viewing the video it shows that our society is so morally wrong and unjust, it has allowed being a bystander to discrimination seem as though its not a big deal but it is and its gone on for to long and shouldn't be taken as calmly or lightly as shown. It should be dealt with and changed so this type of thing is a thing of the past and that being discriminated against isnt something that is just swept under the rug.
Ryan 19 July, 2012 00:16
After viewing this video it really shows you racism and discrimination that is going on in Australia, I find that this generation is to blind to recognize that discrimination is going on all around us in this day and age, mainly because the of how extreme discrimination was in Australia and also that this generation isn’t as educated on the effects of discrimination and its impact. It does get to me that ‘rob’ is being such a bigot and that no one does anything or intervene and that’s what should change, people should start intervening. It is understandable being a bystander but shouldn’t be acceptable anymore, so that discrimination in this form can be stopped or at least decreased.
Sherryl Rozario 23 March, 2013 11:20
Discrimination is alive and well even now. I still cop it but I don't stay quiet. I have learnt to give it back as good as I get. Read this article from February 08 2013 http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/television/abc-journalist-cops-racist-rant-on-sydney-bus/story-e6frfmyi-1226573416717
Paul Smith 10 May, 2013 07:25
It's not all one-way traffic. About 30 year ago a man crashed his car into the side of my car. While he was changing lanes to avoid running into the rear of a truck in his lane. While we were discussing to matter he asked me if I was an Australian. I said I was and said "Aren't you?" He replied that he was Lebanese and that I should be over on the north side of Sydney and not in Lebanese territory. After he failed to produce a drivers license I called the police. He then went on to threaten me with violence saying "I know where you live", because I had already shown him my license. I informed the attending police officer but he just shrugged his shoulders. Due to my fear of this person I quickly relocated myself to another address. And of course I had to pay the excess on the insurance. So friends, not all "white Australians" are racist and I'm sure many have had BAD experiences similar to mine. I do not have any ill feelings for people of Lebanese background, just that one person.
Mel Haystack 4 July, 2013 10:19
I viewed this exhibit.Lets not label by skin colour is the theme of this exhibit but in reality this is what the video is based on!!!While I don't deny we prejudge on many levels, I think the tram video only further perpetuates it. .At no point did it say these were real views solicited by the person in the video therefore the opinion expressed by all were created and perpetuated stereotypical ones. Rob's actions were painted purely stereotypically. In reality could Rob have just had a bad day full of overbearing actions, so much so that he needed the opportunity to chill in a quiet carriage now supported on the train network but not on trams. Could it be that he didn't use the seat purely because he only travelled short distance and had been sitting all day? Could Ibrahim on the phone just have thought Rob was having a bad day and was being rude to interupt his phone call? Perhaps the lady looked apologetically at Ibrahim thinking something along the lines "Takes all sorts'. I think in a world where terms and labels are tossed around misconscruing them is to the denigration of the true victims. Remember not all actions are always race/ religion/ gender etc orientated. I have experienced racism being of Italian heritage and I have experienced sheer rudeness. They are EXTREMELY different things. The fact that the character of Rob was displayed to have racist actions and those actions also interpreted by the varied ehtnic groups as racist only serve to further divide ...AND ...to imply further racism that if you are born in Australia of white skin you will not be tolerant of other cultures.There are Racists and they exist in all races...and there are non racists in all races as well.
Azzie Woods 4 November, 2015 03:13
He dead wrong, I would have flipped but he did the right thing and remained calm.
Michael Fuller 11 March, 2017 03:44
i couldn't just sit there and let that happen to be honest i would say something and he may not like that but he can catch me off the train. i hate ignorant people, everyone here is human skin color might be diffrent but we are all human
Valentin Rodriguez 22 March, 2017 04:12
the man drank his drink before he got of the bus they didnt let him sit down because he was white
Jade Brannon 9 May, 2017 04:45
Our generation today really disgusts me. People are so rude, inconsiderate, ignorant, mean, obnoxious... I HATE it! Its crazy how someone can just think their better or above anyone. At the end of the day we are ALL equal so what are cultures are different, or we speak differently, or we may look a little strange we are ALL equal.
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