What can we do against racism?

This post is also available in: polski (Polish)

“Understanding Racism and Building Allyship” – the Zoom meeting for Wave Makers of Galway 2020, and “Anti-racism – the change starts in the body” – workshop by the new visions became for me another motivation to look at racial discrimination and also at myself. I am grateful to be on the road to change together with diverse people.

Racism has its roots in colonialism and it is a system of socially practices legally valid that are often secret, unconscious, and unintentional. The racism system is a social inequality sustained by prejudices and irrational fear of losing the privileges guaranteed by having white skin. (definition by Polish Humanitarian Action)

Is racism not visible at first glance?

I live in Ireland among many diverse cultures, in a country that is considered to be very tolerant. So it was a surprise for me when it turned out that the report of racism of Ireland 2020 (there were 700 racism incidents ) fared much worse than the report from 2019 (530). I have realized that racism and discrimination are often not visible at first glance. Although racism takes the form of attacks, beatings, or verbal aggression on the street and very often online, as well.

I was a witness a young white Irishman throw a small pebble into a Muslim man in the crowded O’Connell Street in Dublin. He did it very subtly. I have the impression that racist incidents sometimes happen almost imperceptibly. In the media, in advertisements, at work, at the university, in the supermarket, on the housing market, and in our heads. We often ignore it or we don’t want to react, or we think about reaction but we don’t know how to do it. Racism comes in a variety of masks and sometimes works with white gloves.

First we need to do changes in ourselves

Many schemes in our thinking come from the system we live in, education, stereotypes, automatic behaviors, or some language habits. So let’s take a look at what the prejudices are inside you and what they come from. Each of us can make mistakes. We are no guilty that we were born into a specific system. Awareness is the first step to do the change. My first act to explore the context of racism was an interview with Agnieszka Bułacik.

The picture on the window made by Eanna MacCormack, Galway

Educate yourself

If we care about social justice and we want to make alterations, it is good to participate in various types of workshops about what can we do against racism and xenophobia. Many of them are online and free. Then we get the opportunity to know different organizations, people, express our doubts, share an individual story, discover something new and explore further.

Say something

Although I am not one of those who always react in public space, anti-racist workshops make me want to react next time. I don’t know how to do it, but I don’t want to close my eyes anymore. If you have experience with this, please share it in the comments.

Discover solutions

21 st March is The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and all month is marked by events against racism. It can awake difficult emotions in us. But it is good to explore our feelings. In Ireland, some artists started to create murals to remind passers that we are all equal, and love is the most important thing in the world. The one called Bray for Love has created by Holly Pereira in Bray nearby Dublin.

picture from Holly Pereira's website.

Also, Wave Makers get involved in #togetheragainstracism. We are a group of 70 nationalities and diversity is a big worth for us. Some of the volunteers came up with the idea of video with a poem, and they made a powerful film in the various spots of Galway where Maoulida, Hugh, Priyanka, Magda, Vanessa, Jeff, Pedro, Regina, Sita recite verses from a poem of Maya Angelou “Still I’ll Rise”.

In the window of our hub, artist Eanna MacCormack painted a picture inspired by his travels and work around the world. On the other hand in Poland, Alina Szpilman directed the first reportage about racism in our country. Another group of artists from The Melting Pot Luck in Galway have presented three films of series: “Stand in my shoes”. We can see how our behaviors and words can hurt the migrants, sometimes.

Recognise your privilege and its meaning

How often we are not aware of our rights? Sometimes at work or at the university. It is worth exploring them, because they can be helpful in various situations. And we will be able to fight for our rights as well.

The change starts in the body

I did not realize that working with the body can help in the racism matter. Until I have participated in the workshop “Anti-racism – the change starts in the body” made by Margaret Amaka Ohia-Nowak and Agnieszka Bułacik . Despite the fact that the meeting took place on the Zoom, we had the opportunity to shake bodies in the individual movements in our rooms or kitchens as a natural, wild dance.

Thanks to it, we could get out hidden emotions, stress, fears, thoughts, tiredness, shame, discomfort, or coldness. While we were dancing we thought about those we love, but also about all we do not understand. We tried to explore what we really want to do in life. At the same time remembering who we are and where we are in this moment. We could define our limits with a rope and later try to exceed them. We watched each other faces on the screen, and a smile came naturally. I felt light, happy, and free as if I was standing with bare feet on the spring grass. I discovered that my anxiety had a very big influence on how I behave towards other people.

If they can learn to hate, they can learn to love

Nelson Mandela

Let’s explore the spaces within us, discover how we feel with ourselves, with someone we love, or with somebody we don’t know at all. We can make mistakes, but also we can doscover that we are not alone with our pain. Let’s think that being human is beautiful, being different is interesting, and actions for a community can be an adventure.

mural in Galway

The Understanding Racism and Building Allyship” workshop facilitated by Vicky Donnelly from the Galway One World Center and Megan Maria Ayers-Browne from Trinity College in Dublin.

“Anti-racism – the change starts in the body” workshop facilitated by cultural coach Dr. Margaret Amaka Ohia-Nowak and Agnieszka Bułatik, co-founder of the educational collection the new visions. You can join this workshop every last Wednesday. More information on new visions.

Statistics according to INAR reports – Irish Network against racism.

There is also a campaign #LoveNotHate – an initiative by Irish Network against racism Inar to unite to legislate against hate crime.

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