Racism is unacceptable in Limerick. 700 racist incidents were recorded nationally in 2020, but research has repeatedly highlighted underreporting of racism in Ireland.
We need to have a conversation about racism in Limerick. Join the #RootOutRacismLK campaign to learn and talk about racism.
Understanding what racism is, the different forms, and how to respond.
Racism can be most simply understood as someone behaving differently to another person based on the colour of their skin, their country of origin, cultural traditions or religious beliefs.
Some people experience racism because they look different or speak a different language or wear certain styles of clothing because of their religion or cultural traditions.
Racism is known to cause feelings of sadness, isolation, anger and depression in victims. In more serious instances of racial violence and hate crime people have been forced to leave their homes and communities in fear of their lives.
- lies with individuals.
These are individual beliefs and biases about race and racism, influenced by our lived experiences and culture. Internalised racism can take many different forms, such as:
- individual biased and prejudiced attitudes
- private beliefs and opinions that are not publicly expressed
- implicit and unconscious bias
- lack of awareness of privilege
- fear of differences/ others
- lack of self-reflection
- occurs between individuals.
These are behaviours where private beliefs affect public interactions. Examples include, racial slurs, offensive “jokes” or disparaging humour, bigotry, microaggressions, hate crime and racial violence.
This form of racism includes not only intentional racist comments such as “go back to your own country”, “we should look after our own”, but also comments or actions that unintentionally or unconsciously cause offence, that is being constantly asked “where are you from?”, or “can I touch your hair?”.
- occurs within institutions and systems of power.
It is unfair and discriminatory institutional practices (within workplaces, public services, universities and schools, etc.,) that leads to inequitable outcomes for people of different race or culture.
- is racial bias between institutions and across society.
Systemic racism includes the cumulative and compounding effect of a range of societal factors that systematically privilege one group of people over another, including the history, culture, ideology and interactions of institutions and policies.
Physical impact of racism.
There are a number of ways that racism can impact you physically. If you are the victim of a racist attack, you could be left with physical injuries or experience such high levels of stress or anxiety that it starts to impact on your health.
Mental health impacts of racism.
Racism can have a deeply damaging effect on people’s mental health and their health generally. Experiencing racism can lead to feelings of humiliation, and it can also be dehumanising. Racism undermines people’s dignity and forces them to change their usual behaviour and daily routines. It can lead to other emotional impacts such as distress, PTSD, insomnia, depression, fear, a sense of isolation and lack of trust in people.
Social impacts of racism.
Experiencing racism can lead to feeling lonely or isolated. Racism can also result in having less trust in other people. If someone experiences repeated harassment in their area, it can impact on their social life and make it harder to create a network of friends or feel safe at all. Other kinds of racism, like housing discrimination and institutional racism can also make it harder to live freely and healthily in society.
Economic impacts of racism.
Racism has economic impacts. It has been proved that people experiencing racism are more likely to experience barriers to employment, lower wages, and discrimination when trying to access housing or financial support. They may also experience racism with housing, discrimination from landlords, and have issues with transportation. Some people try to avoid public transport or take longer routes to get places due to racist incidents, which can increase their travel costs.
Impact of racism on families, communities and society.
Racist incidents can have a negative impact not only on an individual who directly experienced it, but also on the person’s family or even the entire community. Racism can lead to fear spreading through the community, especially when there is a poor response of the community leaders, local people and/or authorities. Communities can become isolated and torn apart.
Ripple effect of racism.
The Irish Network Against Racism reports ‘when individuals experience racism there is a ripple effect; not only does the individual have to deal with the hurt and isolation but everyone who shares that person’s identity becomes a potential target. This community then has a shared fear and sometimes feel they are vulnerable to harassment and violence because of their identity’.
Racism starts with biased attitudes, conscious or unconscious, and often springs from inherent prejudice and fear of difference. This can lead to stereotyping and blaming of people of a different colour or culture as the cause of perceived problems in society. Private beliefs and prejudice that go unchecked may progress to racist actions and behaviours. That is why we need to talk about racism and the impact that racism and racist attitudes has on those who experience it.
Reporting racism is one of the ways of responding.
It is a crime to be racist to someone in Ireland.
In 2014, 108 racist incidents were reported nationally, which rose to 174 in 2019. In 2020 there was a significant increase with 334 people reporting incidents of racism.
It is widely recognized that racism is under-reported. Victims may be reluctant or unwilling to report racism for a variety of reasons including fear of being misunderstood or disbelieved, fear of engaging with the police or state authorities or simply that nothing will be done and that reporting will make their lives worse.
All racist incidents, including crime, discrimination in access to goods and services, racism and hate speech online, can be reported in confidence to iReport.ie.
The Irish Network Against Racism INAR have a Responding to Racism Guide, which provides information about how and where to report and respond to racist incidents.
Here is a summary of some bystander intervention techniques, from INAR:
Act. Never ignore the situation. If you find yourself too nervous or afraid to speak out, move closer to the person being harassed to communicate your support with your body or eye contact.
Think safety first. Keep your safety and the safety of others in mind and let that determine how you respond.
Stay calm. Don’t engage in any kind of verbal abuse directly with the perpetrator.
Devote your attention to the victim. Ignore the attacker and do not interact with him or her in any way. Pick a random subject and start discussing it.
Keep building a safe space. Keep eye contact with the victim and don’t acknowledge the attacker’s presence. Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves.
Read a selection of real experiences of racism from people living in Limerick:
“I feel like it takes new teachers longer to warm up to me over other students. It’s like they think we won’t understand each other, but I’m not that different.” - Limerick secondary school student
“I can see parents clench their children’s hand tighter when they walk past me.” - Researcher at University of Limerick
“I think sometimes people are afraid to ask me questions or even speak to me in case they accidentally say something offensive or come across racist, but I just want people to talk to me normally.” - Limerick secondary school student
“I had to change my picture on my email address to a picture of a dog when applying for jobs. Once I changed it, I finally started getting responses to my applications.” - Community Worker in Limerick
“My daughter had an issue in school. I approached the teachers about it but they ignored me. They don’t believe my child.” - Limerick Parent
“A stranger told me to go back home, but Limerick is my home.” - Teacher in Limerick
“A classmate told me I looked like some burnt food. They told me it was just a joke.” - Limerick Secondary School Student
“My friend stood up for me when another student used the N word.” - Limerick Secondary School Student
“The toilets in my school were vandalised with racist graffiti. The school painted over the graffiti but never addressed the issue. The vandalism always reappears.” - Limerick Secondary School Student
Use the information you have learned to have a conversation about racism with your friends, family and colleagues.
Here are some suggestions to help you start a conversation about racism with you friends, family or colleagues:
What’s your initial reaction to the stories of racism in Limerick?
Have you ever experienced anything like this?
Do you think incidents like this are a result of conscious or unconscious bias?
Do you believe there is an imbalance of power within institutions?
Where do you think racial stereotyping comes from?
If you witnessed an incident of racism, how would you respond?
#RootOutRacismLK in the workplace by getting together to talk about racism on World Diversity Day. Get your team together to examine the learning materials, and use the conversation prompts to generate discussion.
Teachers can help #RootOutRacismLK in the classroom and encourage students to be more open about the subject by talking together about racism on World Diversity Day. Read the stories of Limerick people’s experience of racism, and use the conversation prompts to encourage students to engage with the materials.
Community & Youth Groups Groups
Community leaders can make an effort to #RootOutRacismLK by encouraging youtube groups and community groups to have the talk about racism on World Diversity Day. Get together as a group to use our resources to learn about racism, and prompt conversation.
Sports Clubs around Limerick can use the resources here to learn about racism and talk about it together as a team. Read the resources with your team, and use the conversation prompts to talk about it together.
Family & Friends
You can support the #RootOutRacismLK campaign by talking to your family and friends about racism. Share some of the stories of racism you have heard from Limerick people and discuss your reactions to them, and use the suggested conversation prompts to encourage further discussion.
Understand your own bias.
Take the Implicit Bias test here. You can talk about your results and what you learned about your own bias in the conversations you have with others.
Think about who you want to speak with.
It might be easier to start speaking with people that you know well, that you trust and are comfortable with. Consider the person’s individual experience and background before having the conversation so that you are prepared.
Consider your goals, guidelines and expectations.
Be clear and realistic about what you want to achieve. Be prepared for disagreements and consider how to pause the conversation if it is going in an unhelpful direction. If the conversation does not go as hoped, you can try again some other time and build on what you have started.
Take the Implicit Bias test and discuss your results with the other person.
This can start a conversation about bias and stereotypes, emphasizing how everyone has bias. You can take the test here.
Discuss the stereotypes that affect you personally.
These could be stereotypes about your gender, your age, where you’re from or what you believe. Talk about where these stereotypes come from; how they are perpetuated and how they impact you and others.
Refer to a current or recent news story that is concerned with racism.
Discuss how it makes you feel and what you think about it.
Share what you’ve learned and how you feel.
Tell the person you are speaking with what you have learned and discovered about yourself. Tell the person how you feel about racism and why it is important to you. Try to avoid telling the person how you think they should feel.
Ask open-ended questions.
Try to avoid asking if someone agrees or disagrees with particular views. Instead ask open ended questions to discuss and explore issues together. This will be less-confrontational and will allow for more discussion.
Give tailored examples.
Use the information you have learned about stereotypes and prejudice to inform the conversation. Give relatable examples of common stereotypes and misconceptions, tailored to who you are speaking with. Explain how these stereotypes affect you and make the connection with stereotypes about other people and groups.
Listen, empathise and support.
Remember that stereotypes and prejudiced beliefs can come from over-generalisations and real concerns. Actively listen to what they have to say and try to understand how they feel. Try to remain supportive and understanding, while working through the issues in your conversation. This should be a safe space for discussion.
Share factual information.
Some common misconceptions are centred around false information. Share factual information to dispel misconceptions if you can or suggest that you try to find out the facts together.
Stay focused but know when to take a break.
Try to keep the conversation focused on the root causes of racism and steer away from examples that aim to support negative perceptions. Expect the conversation to become uncomfortable but if you feel too frustrated or unheard, recognise when to pause the conversation and try again some other time.
Give opportunities for more learning.
Share resources with the person you are speaking with. They may not wish to learn more immediately after your conversation but they might some day in the future. You can tell them what resources you liked and leave the door open to having more conversations in the future.
Share that you’ve had the conversation on social media using #RootOutRacismLK