Racism isn’t typically something you can see, like being tall or short or blue-eyed or brown-eyed, but racism is definitely something you can feel, especially when it happens to you. Civil rights have no doubt advanced in many places around the world, making racism simply unacceptable. At least, overt racism in public. Shouldn’t we rejoice at how far we’ve come? Well, yes and no. Advances are advances and they should be celebrated as such. The problem is that an insidious form of racism still exists, a more subtle and private type. And it’s that subtlety that makes it so difficult to change.
A new app from Australia called Everyday Racism is working to try to change this and is aimed at 18- to 24-year-old Australians. The interactive game allows players to select a character based on themselves, or else opt to be a Muslim woman, an Indian student or an Aboriginal man. The game presents a range of everyday scenarios, like verbal abuse or being passed over for a promotion, and then the players are asked to choose how they would respond. When you select yourself as a character, you are asked how to respond to situations as a bystander. For a week the players receive a series of videos, texts, images and tweets.
The app was jointly created by All Together Now, an anti-racism organization based in Australia; the University of Melbourne; the University of Western Sydney and Deakin University. As part of the process a group of Muslim women, Indian students and Aboriginal men were asked to share their experiences. The Everyday Racism app recently participated in a contest sponsored by the United Nations to promote intercultural dialogue.
While identifying and being aware of a problem is the first step towards fixing it, the question is: Can subtle racism be solved with apps like this? And if not, then what can we do?