Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says the upcoming Real Housewives of Auckland episode shows that “some New Zealanders still think it’s OK to say ignorant, offensive and racist things and it’s up to the rest of us to tell them that it’s not OK.”
“I’m sorry for Michelle but this episode will educate a lot of people about so-called casual racism – the thing about casual racism is it never feels casual when it’s happening to you or your loved ones,” said Dame Susan.
“I haven’t seen this episode yet but am interested to see what the rest of the housewives and film crew did when Julia referred to Michelle using a hateful racist word: does anyone challenge her? Does anyone tell her to pull her head in?” said Dame Susan.
“Chinese New Zealander Wong Liu Shueng shared her personal story of racial abuse with us on our www.thatsus.co.nz website recently and said the time a friend stood up for her remains a powerful and unforgettable memory.”
“If we watch this episode this week we need to think back on our own lives. Have we faced or witnessed this kind of racist abuse? What did we do? Did anyone challenge the abuser? If it happens again: how will we react?”
Dame Susan said people like Julia do not reflect the vast majority of New Zealanders: “I do not think that ignorant, overt racist behaviour is part of Kiwi culture so we all need to call it out when it rears its very ugly head. People like Julia need to understand that using words like that is not how we roll here. That is not us.”
Dame Susan says “it’s important for New Zealanders to talk about what is acceptable and what isn’t as we live in one of the world’s most ethnically diverse, as well as one of the most peaceful nations on earth.”
People can find out more about racial intolerance in New Zealand by going to the website for the Human Rights Commission’s new anti racism “That’s Us” campaign: www.thatsus.co.nz
People can complain about racial discrimination by going to www.hrc.co.nz
That’s Us: New Zealand’s first anti-racism website
What is That’s Us? New Zealand’s first anti-racism campaign that asks Kiwis to start sharing our own personal stories about racism, intolerance and hatred as well as our hopes for the future.
What is it about: Racial intolerance is on the rise overseas and closer to home. The NZ Attitudes and Values Survey as well as our own complaints data shows we need to start talking openly about intolerance. That’s Us is about the kind of people we want to be, as well as the kind of country we want our kids growing up in.
Why do we need it? New Zealanders need to understand that the way we treat each other is crucial to our future so we are highlighting instances where we have not treated each other with dignity and mana. We trust that New Zealanders will recognise injustice and unfairness when they hear the true stories of what fellow Kiwis have gone through: it’s time for us to work actively at peaceful race relations.
How does it work?
Go to www.thatsus.co.nz and you can share your own personal story, over time we will be sharing excerpts from various stories. Not all stories will be published but we aim to publish excerpts from as many as possible. It is up to you if you want to share anonymously or let us know your name. We welcome photos and videos as well.