Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra 1986
Human Rights Commission
Education Series No. 1
Anti-Racism: a Handbook for Adult Educators
Barbara Chambers and Jan Pettman
Typeset by Graphicset Pty Ltd Mitcham Victoria
Printed in Australia by Watson Ferguson and Co., Brisbane
© Commonwealth of Australia 1986 ISBN for Education Series: 0 644 05112 4
ISBN for this volume: 0 644 05113 2
Cover Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
Published in the International Year of Peace
This is the first volume in the Human Rights Commission's Education Series. The Series is designed to
provide resources for human rights educators.
This manual is for adult educators determined to confront the issues of racism and anti-racism in a
wide range of teaching contexts. It provides a comprehensive rationale for doing so, a detailed set of
activities and strategies that can be adapted to the specific needs of those involved, and a list of further
resources and references. It combines, in other words, both theoretical awareness and practical utility
in a single handbook that is socio-politically relevant and easy to use.
A work of this kind can never be complete, and the authors do not presume that it is so. They
would welcome an active response from which more may be learned.
It should be noted that the views expressed or implied in this volume are not necessarily those of the
Human Rights Commission or its members and should not be identified with it or them.
PART A: RATIONALE Jan Pettman 1
I. What is racism? 3
2. Racism in Australia 11 3. Why oppose racism? 22 4. How to combat racism 29
PART B: STRATEGIES Barbara Chambers 35
The anti-racist program 37
5. How to use the program 37
Stage 1 Racism: what is it? 44 Stage 2 Exploring institutional racism 48
Stage 3 Exploring cultural racism 54
Stage 4 Exploring individual racism 65
Stage 5 Anti-racist action strategies 73
6. Adaptations to the program 80
PART C: A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ANTI-RACIST MATERIALS AND RESOURCES Barbara Chambers 85
This is a handbook on racism, anti-racism and the dominant culture, for Australian educators.
The Handbook is written by two Anglo–Australians. It addresses itself primarily to Anglo- Australians, not because they have a monopoly on prejudice (they clearly do not), but because, in
Australian society, they are often in the position to affect others, or to actualise their prejudices. They
are, thus, part of the problem, and so they must change to become part of its solution.
The major institutions in Australia are white, Anglo-dominated institutions. Within and outside
these institutions, Anglo–Australians are often required to work and communicate cross-culturally,
and lack the experience or training necessary to do so. For these reasons, the Handbook is directed primarily at them; we hope other projects will pursue issues of racism and conflict between and among
Aboriginal and ethnic groups in Australia.
The Handbook aims specifically at adults. Some material is now available concerning prejudice and
racism in schools. This Handbook, by contrast, aims to provide a rationale and strategies for those who are working with adults. Thus the scope is very wide — the adults concerned may be tertiary students,
teachers, senior secondary students, academic staff, police officers, nurses, unionists, public servants
(e.g. Department of Social Security counter staff), church members and private sector staff. The
situations in which the educators or facilitators are working will also vary greatly, from formal courses
to community meetings. For these reasons, the Handbook will aim at being accessible and useful; a working document, rather than an academic item.
The Handbook is in three parts: Part A aims to provide a rationale for educational activity in this area, and so must analyse the
nature of racism in contemporary Australia, and suggest appropriate and effective responses to it. It
asks, therefore: What is racism? How significant is it in Australia today? Why should we oppose it? It
seeks too, to suggest guidelines for combating racism.
Part B presents activities and strategies within a coherent program for use in a variety of situations.
It also provides a theoretical framework so that educators can modify the program to meet their
particular requirements. Chapter 6 presents adaptations of the program for 1 day and 5 day sequences.
Part C provides a list of further resources, materials and references, for use in confronting racism.
This Handbook is very much a work-in-progress statement. Many Australians are concerned about, and seeking to challenge, racism, but at this stage it is still often a matter of trial and error. We welcome
feedback from readers and users of the Handbook, and look forward to the opportunity to develop it
further on this basis. The Handbook is also a shared enterprise. We draw heavily upon our own experiences, working with adults in this area, researching about it, and also on long discussions with
colleagues, many of whom are too busy getting on with the job to take time off and write it down. To
them, especially, our thanks. We hope this Handbook goes a way towards strengthening our network, spreading our ideas, and continuing the debate in which we are all involved. In particular we would like
to thank Judy Katz, who permitted us to adapt her format and some of her strategies to the Australian
experience. Thanks also to Josie Crawshaw, who drew together the first draft of the Part C. Thanks
also to Sylvia Gleeson whose idea it was and Ralph Penman and other staff at the Human Rights
Commission for their assistance. Without them this Handbook would not have materialised.
RATIONALE Jan Pettman
In this section, we ask why is racism important? Why should we be concerned about it? What are we
trying to change?
We need to establish common understandings about what racism is; about its nature and extent in
contemporary Australia; and suggest ways to combat it. We need, too, to develop a rationale for
opposing racism; to develop our own positions, together with arguments which defend those positions,
and contest those who oppose action against racism.
1. WHAT IS RACISM?
We need to come to an understanding of the nature of racism, and to identify and analyse those
practices which are racist, before we can effectively and appropriately combat racism.
Racism is an emotive word. Calling someone a 'racist' is an insult, aimed to offend or condemn. We
each have different meanings when we use the word, and the consequent confusion, together with the
strong feelings it usually provokes, can aggravate conflict.
We use other words, too, like prejudice, culture and ethnicity, each with our own meanings
implied. We need to analyse these concepts, first, to establish common understandings, so we can work
on these issues without constantly talking past each other; and secondly, because we need to
understand something of their nature, so we can make informed decisions about how to grapple with
them and, in the case of racism, oppose it.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to suggest a single simple definition of racism. Racism changes its
form, as well as strength, over time and from place to place. It manifests itself in different forms in
Australia today. Indeed, it is this changing quality of racism which makes it difficult to identify and
challenge, and which helps make racism so contentious an issue today.
For the purposes of this Handbook, we use a four-dimensional approach to racism, separating out racial prejudice, racial discrimination, racist ideology and institutional racism. These dimensions are
related to each other in complex ways, and one or more of them might be present in any particular
First of all, then, what is prejudice? It can mean, literally, pre-judgment, making up one's mind about others, without sufficient information. It suggests both an unfounded or unreasonable judgment,
and a feeling tone, usually (though not always) being against something. Racial prejudice refers to
negative attitudes towards those classified on the basis of physical or cultural characteristics.
Thus we have a number of stages in the process. First, people are identified as members of a group
because of their physical appearance, culture or ethnic origin, real or supposed. Secondly, they are
judged according to the presumed characteristics of that group.
Thus people are being labelled, and those labels are often on the basis of stereotypes of the group.
Stereotypes are generalised images of people in a particular group or category, which are held
whether or not most, or even some, people in that ca