‘Speaking’ racism and anti-racism: perspectives of local anti-racism actors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2015, 38 (2), pp. 342 - 358
Issue Date:
2015-01-01
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© 2014 Taylor & Francis. ‘Speaking’ racism is the explicit use of the terms racism and anti-racism, rather than more palatable or ‘positive’ alternatives. To address racism, using the language of racism and anti-racism is critical, as it acknowledges the presence of racism and, in doing so, overcomes denial. Dispositions to speaking racism and anti-racism are positioned within the historical context of racism and the discourse of tolerance in Australia. Interviews with individuals working in local anti-racism in two sites were the primary data source for exploring dispositions to the language of racism and anti-racism. Reticence to speak racism was prevalent, largely driven by fear of inducing defensiveness and sensitivity to the highly emotive nature of racism. A similar ambivalence around the term anti-racism was found, in line with the ‘positive turn’ in anti-racism policy. Alongside this discomfort, some local anti-racism actors recognized the role that speaking racism could play in challenging denial.
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