Everyday Racism is an iPhone app released by All Together Now designed to literally put you in someone else’s skin and experience casual racism. You choose between three different characters, and over the course of a week multiple scenarios are presented to you and you then choose your reaction. We here at The Two Chairs chose a character each and tried it out.
Dan, a white male plays Aisha; a Muslim female
My natural response to most of the scenarios was to call out the subtle racisms for what they were and to defend myself. As a result I found myself getting tired of being told that I was over-reacting, that these minor issues weren’t deliberately excluding my character or that the person was joking. I found myself muttering about “darn white people” more and more as a result.
The part that really started to get to me was a perceived lack of support. Every time I asked for witnesses to a perceived incident, no one would agree that they had seen anything. Even in this simulated environment I could feel my will to fight back getting ground down a little more.
I’d known in an academic sense the effects of microaggressions and their long term affects, but this app did a good job of having me experience these emotions. Do I know what the real thing feels like? No. But I got a clearer perspective on my own privelidge again.
Suzie, a Vietnamese Australian plays Vihaan; an Indian male student.
I remember noticing on the western train line in Melbourne that Indians move in packs.
I remember sitting on the Western train line in Melbourne and noticing that many of the Indian move in packs. It’s not surprising that they do that, especially when they have to move in groups for safety. There’s been a lot of negative press surrounding Indian students being victims of racial abuse. So, when I played the Everyday Racism ‘7 day challenge,’ I was expecting to be shown overt and subtle racism.
I was right. I remember going into an apartment inspection and the real estate agent politely informed me that my application would have been rejected. I had a shop assistant following me around and asked me if I ‘really’ needed help. There was an incident on the street where some guy came up to my face and shouted “Oi, go back to where you’re from!”
Little things, like an email invite from a work mate; it gave off the impression that I won’t have fun because there’s alcohol around (Vihaan doesn’t drink). Little things are well hidden and so subtle that you found yourself constantly double-checking your thoughts and wondering; “Did that just happen” or “surely, that don’t mean it like that, right?!” It’s those little things that really bother me the most. I call them ‘little jabs’ and the technical term for these little experiences are microaggression racism.
There were a lot of options to “do nothing.” I’ve decided long ago that that itself is not an option. Pointing it out is better than doing nothing. It doesn’t need to be the level of “OH my God! You’re racist.” It can be a simple question like; “What do you mean by that?” This is a method that I use often as it’s a good way of revealing and clarifying their their hidden agenda. Most of the time, they dig themselves a very deep and ignorant hole.
I thought about it some more and emphasise with Vihaan’s experience. Uncannily, his life is similar to mine. Playing the app has also brought up my own good, bad and funny memories and made me feel a little dejected that anyone is subjected to little jabs of racial hurt.
The app takes you on a journey of four different lives of diverse backgrounds (you can even play “yourself”). The experience is eye opening and allows you to realise a small aspect of reality that is happening on our backdoor.
How about taking on the 7 day challenge yourself?
Share your experience with us too.
Download everyday racism app here