Rant against racism

Rant Against Racism was launched in April 2014 to promote understanding of the different ways to counter racism in the community. The competition invited people to share their stories of how they had stood up to racist behaviour.

Take a look at how people responded to racism on public transport, in public, at school and in the workplace and to cyber racism and casual racism.


  • Sedick, 52

    tram photo

    One morning I was on the tram going to work. I was listening to music but became aware of a disturbance. On taking off my headphones, I heard a woman shouting and swearing at a young African secondary student. The young girl was looking quite distressed and I heard the woman call her a “black c**t”. I asked the woman if she was speaking to me and she said “No I'm speaking to that black c**t”. I asked her to please shut up and stood next to the young girl. The woman got off the tram at the next stop. It was 7.30am. When I got to work I wrote the following: “We refuse to live in a society where individuals or small groups can be persecuted, can stand alone in fear. It is easy to say we are not that kind of society. But for that person, for persecutor and persecuted both, we are that society, for that moment, for that lifetime. We will wear no badge, no uniform, no beret. We will remain anonymous except when it matters. There could be one of us, or a thousand of us on that tram, that bus, train or in that crowd. No-one will know unless needed. We will leave no-one behind. We will abandon no-one, to stand alone in fear, in a crowd. This is a personal commitment. This is a silent pledge. I will stand up and I will stand next to the person in silent solidarity”.

  • Nerissa, 17

    I was on a bus headed home when the bus stopped and let 3 Aboriginal people on. One of them was unable to pay for a ticket so the bus driver told her to get off and wait for the next bus, which was not for another hour and it was 35+ degrees Celsius. So I handed the driver $15, and told him to keep the change. He told me I wasn’t allowed to pay for her and that she had to get off. He said if she didn’t he would call security. I replied “It doesn’t matter who pays – as long as you’re getting the money, security aren't going to care. I suppose if it were a white girl like me you would let her on free you racist dog.” I took the lady to the back of the bus to her friends who hadn't uttered a word the whole time and the bus driver started driving. I've never been more disgusted in my life.

  • Joy, 40+

    As a five year old, I experienced racism when I wanted to join in a game of basketball with a group of year 6 boys and they said, “Get your hands off our ball you bloody ugly Jap!” I told my teacher at the time who said “ignore the racists, they have a problem, not you. Do what you love doing and others will respect you for it.” At that time I was good at running so I focused on that and won athletics carnivals and was voted school captain. I didn't experience racism ever again at school until years later during the Pauline Hanson era, when she made her maiden speech and said, “We are being swamped by Asians” etc. I remember I caught a ferry from High St to Circular Quay the next day and a man came up to me and spat on me and said, “Pauline's right – we're being swamped by you bloody ugly Asians, go back to where you came from.” I then reported this to the ferry captain who just so happened to be dark skinned and called the police who detained this racist. They gave him a firm warning and he was told if he ever did this again he'd be arrested and fined. From that moment on, I wrote about my stories of racism and got them published - “Growing Up Asian in Australia,” (Black Ink Books) “Chinese Australian Women's Stories” and “Reflecting on Life” (Pearson Education). I founded the Joy House Film Festival to promote film diversity and The Wong Side of Life play and web series for schools (an anti-racism and anti-bullying initiative). Music Video link is http://youtu.be/KmE-DYXZa3s.

  • Ally, 38

    I recently moved to Melbourne and love travelling by tram. I was heading to the city on the 109, passing through Richmond. There was an elderly white lady sitting on the seat across the aisle from me. When we stopped and a few Asian people got on the tram, she got up and moved to sit next to me. I'm “White Album” white. She mumbled something about Asian criminals as she sat down, clutching her purse on her lap. I leaned over to her and said “you don't like Asians either, do you? So many in this area, aren't there?” She looked gratefully at me, and then started to say something else. I cut her off with “Thank God you can't tell I'm Malaysian then, otherwise where would you sit now? My parents are colonial bastards, my sister and I are Malaysian-born, but at least we're not racists. They're the ones you can't spot. People like you.” Pretty sure they were crocodile tears she was shedding as she hopped off at next tram stop.

  • Margie

    train photo

    I was on a train travelling west in Sydney once, with a full carriage. A man who was standing started screaming at everyone in the carriage ‘Go home you $%#ards’ and so on. He used every racist term he could muster. I looked around, and most people on the carriage were not from Anglo backgrounds. The people in the carriage were so diverse it was like a representation of the broad scope of multicultural Australia. And everyone myself included was scared. We pretended it wasn't happening, but our silence seemed to give him credence. I'm from a background where my family is now integrated more into the mainstream, but we used to be, and sometimes still are, the subject of racial hatred. I realised it was me that had to do something. The man's anger so was fierce, I was trembling as I gathered my thoughts. As my station was nearing, I stood and waited by the door. In full voice, I yelled to him. The truth is I can't remember exactly what I said. It was to tell him that he too was of migrant background to this country. It was to tell him that I was happy to have the people from all backgrounds in this country. It was to tell him that he had no right to yell and scream at us. He was silenced. His face was steaming. I wondered, had anyone ever stood up to him before? We arrived at my station, the doors opened, and I got off, still looking sternly at him. I caught the eyes of some of the other passengers. They looked at me with what I saw to be relief. I stepped onto the platform, the doors closed, and the train kept going.

  • Al, 24

    It is quite a funny story. A friend of mine and I were riding a train early in the morning when going back home from a mates place. When we got on the train we were overwhelmed by a young girl yelling abusive remarks to elderly Asian citizens. Within a few minutes of sitting down we felt as though we had to say something to the young lady. In doing so, the young lady got out if control and turned on us, but because she knew we were never going to tolerate her stuff, she decide to press the emergency button on the train and made up a story about us so she could get a reaction from us. She told the train driver that she we had threatened her with murder. The train ended up being held up for 40 minutes until the police arrived. We never moved from our seats and in end the end she was the one who ended up being arrested because the police had seen everything that had occurred earlier on CCTV footage.

  • Kawsar, 17

    I think prior to my story it is important to note that I am a young Muslim who wears the headscarf. I was at the public bus station and overhead ladies saying the “Taliban are taking over” and “"Muslims only come to Australia because they get bored of killing people in our country”. When I looked at the two of them, they spat at me “This is a free country! If you don't like what we are saying walk down to the other side of the f*****g bus station.” I told them, here I am minding my own business while they are voicing their stereotypical opinion loudly, and no, I will not walk down to the end of the bus station because of them when my bus is coming any second. They started raging and were waiting for a reply. I am really good with comebacks but decided to use something else on them - I told them to have a nice day with a smile on my face as I entered the bus. Sitting down with my friends I just carried on smiling and showed them the better person we can be despite all of the discrimination we cop all of the time. Sure I could have shot back hurtful words at them but I think it is more important to not be a bully back but assertively advocate against racial discrimination. I mean it is 2014 - come on guys, no hate.

  • Kate, 37

    An old lady on the bus started mouthing off under her breath about a young mum wearing a head scarf. I asked the old lady to let me out of my seat as I didn't want to sit next to a bigot.

  • Deb, 47

    I was sitting on the train coming home from work one afternoon. The train carriage had people were scattered throughout. We pulled up to the next station and 2 young burly lads got on, and they soon spotted 2 young ladies and started to make small chat as the young men were trying all that they could to impress these young ladies. Then it started - out of the blue - the words started.... “Abo's this … Abo's that…” I sat for what seemed like an eternity and waited for others or anyone to share their disapproval, but sadly the ranting continued. I could hear myself - but it didn't sound like me - the voice came from deep inside me... ‘Enough ... no more and no need’. The voice was deep and frightened myself. He turned stuttered for a bit - and then apologised - to me more than once. I said don't apologise - just there is no need and racism is not a way to impress anyone. Only then other travellers nodded to me as to say good on you. I then turned to those individuals that were nodding to me, and said out aloud “any one of you could have said something”. As a fair skinned Aboriginal person, it is the hardest thing to witness. I got up to leave the train - one of the young men kept apologising several times. I hope that for one moment he will think next time. Did I make a difference? Well I hope that those who chose to sit quietly will consider saying something next time.

  • Patti, 54

    taxi photo

    A taxi driver collected me from my home very early one morning. He was a real ‘Aussie bloke’ and proceeded to tell me that in his group of drivers there were no Asians or “local arrivals who don't know their way around and just rip you off”. I asked him to clarify what he meant, which he went on to do. After catching my breath, I said to him “You might want to be more careful, for all you know I have a lovely African husband tucked up in bed upstairs”. He immediately assured me that I had misunderstood him and that of course he wasn't being racist, but I knew what he had said, so I made a point of phoning his taxi-group while I was in the cab, and saying that I found Sandy's views offensive and would not be requiring their services again. Needless to say the rest of the journey passed in silence!

  • Sach, 38

    Rush hour tram ride, some guy couldnt squeeze on, other commuters wouldn't 'move down' when asked. Called me a black bastard. Kept him off the tram til it left the platform. Haha, are you late Mr Racist? Too late for the 21st century.

  • Kiara, 15

    At school our class was talking about how people of Asian culture succeed and that their families make it very important to them. A few of my classmates had the nerve to say that they are stealing jobs and making “Australians look stupid” and that “in Sydney schools, only like 1% is Australian and the rest Asian” and I said “excuse me but Asians are Australians too! A lot of them have been settled here for generations!” I was sent out of class for putting down another student because teachers avoid dealing with racism!

  • Lea, 29

    My family migrated from New Zealand to Australia, and my younger brother experienced racism at the hands of bullies due to his darker complexion. I found this out, and I confronted the boy, and warned him away under threat of reporting to a teacher. He backed off. Eventually, he and my brother become best friends. They were inseparable. And you would never have believed that they were once on very different terms with each other.

  • Amy, 16

    Being of Aboriginal descent, I am often looked down to by my school, mostly the Deputies and possibly the Principal. The way I have proved them wrong was by smashing my tests, ranking up to the highest in English class, producing speeches for the school, being involved in all sorts of activities, and even being selected. I guess I just love proving people wrong. It is sad that society expects nothing from me, and is not surprised by failure, so I like proving them wrong. In that I have gained a self-proclaimed motto: “Better to be over-estimated then under-estimated”.

  • Hash, 16

    school photo

    Kids can be cruel, especially when they’re trying to make someone else laugh. When I was in primary school, it was a constant fight amongst the boys in my class to be the most prominent. It was the worst in grade 5, when immature comments and racist jokes became an instant ticket to winning a laugh. I stroked off the first few harsh jokes, but once these comments and stereotypes came in more frequently I began to doubt myself, and to hate myself. I hated my skin and my origin. If my mum or dad did something different to what a white family would do, I became angry. I secluded myself as I began to drift away from most things in life. Being young, I had no clue as to how to deal with the situation so I just stayed in the toilets or hid amongst the trees where no one could see me. Year 7 was when I stepped out of my shell. In high school everyone started fresh. I was accepted and oddly enough I began to make heaps of friends. I realised that what people say to you, is only as bad as you make it. I didn’t give them the reaction they wanted. Ethical humour and respect got me where racism didn’t get them. If anyone had sneaked in a smart arsed comment on me, I would either laugh or look down on their immaturity. Harsh comments didn’t matter, I was unique and proud of it.

  • Jodie, 42

    I lead the creation of Cultural manners for our workplace. My team members had received all kinds of inappropriate, ignorant and hurtful comments and questions as Aboriginal guides working at a tourism attraction. We documented all the commonly asked stupid questions and our insightful and humorous answers to them into a handout so now our visitors pick up their manners on the way into our park to improve the psychological safety of our workplace for our team.

  • Josh, 22

    I was working in a department store and this middle aged Caucasian woman came up to me, gestured wildly at a vacuum cleaner and said loudly, “Do you know how this works?” with obvious exaggerated pause between each word and intentional over-pronunciation. When I replied calmly “Yes, of course – would you like me to show you?” she exclaimed, “Oh! You speaks English!” I honestly would not have minded the first question, however rudely it was articulated, but when she used grammatically incorrect English to express surprise at MY ability to comprehend HER, it was like striking a match in the heart of a forest. So I answered calmly, “English may not be my first language, but I’m pretty sure I still speak it better than you. All you have to do is press the ON button” and proceeded to show her how to operate the vacuum.

  • Sanket, 27

    work photo

    I was working part time for Telstraclear 2 years back when I came across this customer on a call who wanted to speak to the CEO or the highest authority of the company as he had a billing dispute for huge amount. However, while I was trying to help him he started shouting at me that he wouldn't want to speak to, or deal with, an Indian and wanted to speak to the CEO of the company. I was quite upset by the way he said it as I was trying to help him and nothing more. He again asked me to transfer the call to CEO or someone who could speak English and I thought this was the perfect chance to rant against his racist attitude, so I said “the CEO is Indian. Are you still keen to still speak to CEO?” He was quiet for a moment and then apologised and said that he did not want to be rude. I think he learnt his lesson that way.

  • Derek, 56

    My very first art commission was for B.P. Australia, I painted a scene of Australia's outback with about ten aboriginal characters on walkabout. B.P. said sorry they would only accept the painting if l erased all the aboriginal figures saying they’re nothing but trouble and never did anything for us! Those dummies I'm aboriginal and they were asking me for a white boy's painting? That hurt! I lost the commission but l found my conscious(ness).

  • library photo

    Vanessa, 36

    Whilst I was shopping at a book store, a lady came up to me and did the ‘slanty’ Asian look at me with the use of her fingers and muttered “Asian”. I could not believe how rude she was. I went and approached her in store and told her off. She just walked away ignoring me. I then reported her to the shop assistant and he confronted her. She denied the accusations, saying she has a Japanese adopted son and would never do that. She actually accused me of harassing her. I told her off and said her racist behaviour is not welcome and she needs to learn some manners. She didn't reply. She walked away.

  • Sean, 34

    Driving home from work one afternoon, I pulled up at a roundabout and catch a glimpse of this dirty 4x4 in my rear view. Encased in mud, complete with the usual roll bars, spotlights and adorned with stickers from one alcohol brand to another, it arrives next to me. Then I notice the “f**k off, we're full" sticker with the text inside the shape of Australia (maybe you've seen it?). I could barely contain myself from just winding down the window and saying something... but I didn’t. I drove home and made a version of the same sticker on my computer but put a big red line/stroke through the middle of it. Like a no-smoking sign, except it was a no “f**k off we’re full” sign. I used it as my profile picture on Facebook and shared the story with my friends. Several others grabbed the image and shared it, used it for their own profile pic and got a lot of talk happening.

  • Sally, 48

    public phone

    The scene: a car park with an “automated” payment machine and no on-site operator. Customer in front of me is having trouble with their exit ticket and hits the intercom button for assistance.
    Machine operator is pushy, talks fast, is impatient and unhelpful and customer becomes flustered.
    Machine operator then says... “Well it would help if you could speak English.”
    [Customer has barely discernible accent (no idea which, doesn’t matter)].
    Usually quiet and non-confrontational me steps up to machine and says politely “Excuse me – I’m the customer behind the one you’re serving at the moment.”
    Rude aggressive voice from machine says “Can you help this person?”
    Me in same polite voice: “I could help in two ways. I think it would be helpful if you just slowed down and were a little more patient.”
    Machine operator: “And the other one?”
    Me in a firmer and more intense voice:
    Silence for 3 to 5 seconds.
    Machine operator recommences in much more patient and respectful tones. It turns out that the ticket was faulty and the operator enables customer to pay standard evening fee and leave.
    And then:
    Customer turns to me the big smile on face and walks away.
    THE END.

  • Steven, 44

    I was watching AFL at a pub in FNQ. Liam Jurrah was playing, and man at the next table turned to me said out loud a pretty horrible thing about “lucky the lights are on...” (you can work out the rest). I said “NO. NO. That is just wrong” and turned away from him with my palm out first like a stop sign. I was expecting abuse. He grumbled something, and after a few minutes of being blanked by me got up and left. A couple next to me said “good onya”. I was quite nervous, because he was a big bloke. But it felt right to do it. Silence is acquiescence.

  • cafe photo

    Nick, 19

    I was conversing with a group of friends in our native language at a cafe, when we were 'politely' asked by a young lady to not speak in our language in public. I turned to her and said, “Oh, are we taking this opportunity to 'politely' ask others to do something ridiculous? In that case, can you please refrain from speaking in public? Oh, did my comment offend? That's because I prevented you from practising your most basic form of freewill - your right to speech and language. We have the right to choose what we say and in what language we say it in. No one, not even you princess, can do anything to change that.” With that, she left without another word. What we discovered later was that she paid for our table as she left.

  • Paula, 43

    My family moved to the Mornington Peninsula in the 1970s. We were the first Somalian family in the area. I was constantly asked by my peers why my skin was brown. I got so tired of being asked everyday so I asked my mum what to do. She told me to tell them when we were born god put us all in the oven and he left me for a bit longer and I got a little burnt! It worked a great and they never asked me again! The look on their faces was priceless!

  • two women looking at laptop

    Rebecca, 24

    A friend shared an anti-Islamic article on Facebook; the information in it was inaccurate and inflammatory. I posted a response pointing out the inaccuracies in the article, the dangerous nature of posting articles that promoted mistrust and hated against a whole religious group of people and I also put forward a different point of view. This prompted a debate which revealed that the person who shared the article had believed the misinformation in the article. I do hope that my challenging this article helped to challenge the stereotypes and inaccuracies in this article.


  • Yifan, 21

    One time this internet troll said something racist against my name and I said something back. It received hundreds of likes within minutes that the OP got really embarrassed and deleted the post. I however called it and took a screen shot before he took it off. The image is self-explanatory.

  • Leda, 21

    Every time someone says, “Don't get me wrong, I'm not racist but...” I just look at them and say, “... says every racist just before they're going to make a racist comment”.

  • Peta, 39

    When my brother made a racist generalisation, I said “I'll just go & get your white hood & cloak for you then, shall I?” He was silent then & I could see he was thinking it over.

  • Gwendolyn, 37

    A newly married into the family member used comments such as Abo, coon within her conversation, which she didn't think twice about as being in the category of racist behaviour. On the second occasion hearing it I informed her sternly that those words are racist and if she could kindly refrain from using them in our family home. She got the point, however, sadly would make the comments in her own house. So I made excuses to not to attend events at her house even to the extent of ensuring the events where mainly at my home to prevent her racist behaviour. You have to pick your battles wisely as ignorance can be part of a person's nature and battling them everywhere can be a waste of energy...I happy with my own little win :)