How many times have you heard “I am not racist, but…”? Filling in the blanks proves that whoever said it is, in fact, a racist. When using such a statement, one is actually perpetuating xenophobia. And after listening to the overly-racist comments in the “Voice of Racism” project, we can definitely say that this expression is “worthy” to be on top, “perfectly complementing” other statements, such as: “You’re taking our jobs”, “Of course they don’t smile at you,” or “They don’t want people like you in here”. And there are so many other examples and the thing is, we can’t take it anymore.
Many of us have experienced such aggression online. But imagine that there are people who find themselves in such situations daily, both on- and offline. Racism happens everywhere in the world. And even if we take New Zealand’s example, where people tolerate other races, the country still has to fight with this social plague. There’s a mantra that runs through Kiwis: “There’s no racism in New Zealand.”
American doctor Satra Browne, who came to New Zealand because of her job, says otherwise. “I’ve been called n*gger in New Zealand not only by my patients but also by a fellow doctor colleague, supposedly in jest. In and out of the hospital, I constantly hear blatant ignorance: ‘You can’t put a comb through your hair’ or ‘I know where you’re from… Rwanda.’ No questions, just statements,” she explains. “White privilege still reigns and people of color are still the target of racism which shortens our lives,” Browne continues. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Things can change! We strongly hope they will. And nothing sounds more convincing than the very voice of racism, doesn’t it? And FYI, it is nothing like the soothing sound of the ocean’s plastic. Even though he is a voice actor, filmmaker and anti-racism advocate Taika Waititi, couldn’t make the voice of racism be pleasant. C’mon, not even Morgan Freeman would have managed to make this experience more bearable. It’s a sound that simply makes you cringe, regardless of who narrates it.
The Voice of Racism sounds bad and you can actually experience it by accessing a website, the centerpiece of NZ Human Rights Commission‘s campaign created with the help of Clemenger BBDO agency. VoiceOfRacism.co.nz challenges users to put themselves in the shoes of someone who’s constantly bullied with racist acts. The actor guides you throughout the whole audio-visual data-driven experience, which is unique and unpredictable for every user who accesses it. Are you ready to be on the receiving end of racism?
“The site is designed to be endless, with micro-aggressions coming at you from all directions. We’ve seen people rip their headphones off after a few seconds, and others sitting with it for a while and choosing to come back to it after mini epiphanies,” warns Brigid Alkema, Executive Creative Director of Clemenger BBDO.
The campaign’s goal is to make people do something about such violent acts — be they physical or mental. “It’s too easy to agree that racism is bad and then not do anything about it. This project is asking us all to make a decision: Care enough to keep learning, or don’t,” Alkema concludes.
The initiative is promoted through the genuine reactions of people who have been through the experience, including audio-visual directed by Lula Cucchiara of Curious. The campaign has been received with open arms by leaders and influential Kiwis, who have joined it and shared their thoughts regarding it.
Waititi, who was behind a similar campaign a couple of years ago, being the star of a satirical video that spoke about racism, simply said “Listen!” And we support him: Put your headphones on, close your eyes, and play the experience. Listen! Racism does exist and all it does is spread hate.