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Are we all a little bit racist?

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This week Insight explores racism from a different perspective.

Discussions about prejudice are often framed in terms of whites against non-whites. In a candid and frank debate, Insight lifts a lid on racism between different minority groups in Australia and prejudices people have against their own race - a topic rarely covered in the media.

The program also looks at the psychology of racism – whether humans are all biologically hard-wired to feel threatened by people who look different to them, and are genetically predisposed to want to stick to our own “tribe.”

Australia is due to launch its first ever National Anti-Racism Strategy this year. Insight will ask whether it's the right approach, and whether it has any chance of transcending the impulses that some experts believe we're all born with.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT) was developed by Harvard researchers to measure subconscious prejudice.

Find out how you subconsciously feel by taking the test here.

Members of the Insight audience took the test. Of those who completed it, almost 80% had a negative association with indigenous Australians.

Wednesday 21 March is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Cultural Diversity Week is from 17-25 March.

Producer: Meggie Palmer
Associate Producers: Hannah Meagher and Sarah Allely

Meet the Guests

  • Fiona Barlow

    Dr Fiona Barlow is a social psychologist passionate about understanding prejudice and discrimination. She says the nature of racism has changed over the past century - overtly racist statements used to be the norm, but now society expects people to be more egalitarian and accepting. Dr Barlow is a lecturer and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Queensland.

  • Sachin Joab

    Sachin Joab plays Ajay Kapoor on Neighbours. He grew up in Australia and experienced bullying as a child because of his Indian heritage. Sachin feels Australian TV is too white and ethnic minority actors are cast in stereotyped roles. Neighbours is one of the first gigs he's landed where he hasn't been asked to put on an Indian accent. He experienced a small backlash from fans when he was part of the first non-European family on the show.

  • Behan Ahmed

    Behan Ahmed was born in Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia and Sudan. When his town was bombed during the civil war he fled to a refugee camp in Sudan. He admits to having had racist feelings in the past. He sought refuge in Australia as a 24 year old and now chairs the African Think Tank in Melbourne.

  • Pearl Tan

    Although she has Chinese heritage, Pearl Tan freely admits to being racist against Asians – especially when they conform to stereotypes like bad driving. Born and bred in Australia, Pearl reckons her home town of Perth has grown more racist over the years. She became frustrated with a lack of opportunities for Asian actors in Australia, so she started her own production company to create stories to normalise minorities.

  • "Nathan"

    "Nathan" picked up racist and sexist attitudes from 'bogan' childhood friends and admits abusing people of different races in the past. Now a 'reformed racist,' "Nathan" is one of 20 bloggers for The Anti-Bogan website, exposing racism by republishing racist comments made on sites like Facebook and Twitter. "Nathan" has requested anonymity because of several death threats as a result of the website’s content.


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