Resources on Intervention on Racism

A message from CUPE’s Manitoba Human Rights Representative, Sheree Capar

In Manitoba every worker has the right to a safe and respectful workplace as set out in collective agreements, employer policies, the safety and health act and the human rights code. If these types of situations are occurring in the workplace be sure to know you have the right to let the employer know they need to take steps to make the behaviour stop without any retaliation.

These interventions can also be used if you see hurtful behaviours on the streets, on buses, in the stores or on-line. Don’t let the pandemic make it ok to hurt others-take steps to embrace solidarity and safety for all.

And remember your resources. Most workplaces have employee assistance programs that can offer over the phone supports. 211 can also help you find an appropriate resource in Manitoba.

When people don’t fully understand a situation or person they can jump to conclusions or feed into information that is untrue. Often this supports hurtful stereotypes or racism and can cause harm to others and destroy the solidarity needed in the labour movement and society, especially now as we all face the pandemic. Responding or trying to intervene can be difficult and scary. Before intervening in any manner be sure you and the target are safe. Emotions may be running high and situations can escalate.

Here are some simple ways to help stop harassing hurtful conversations, not just now but anytime you witness behaviour that can damage a person’s dignity.

Hollaback offers the following possible interventions and aptly titled them the 5D’s:

DISTRACT– interrupt the conversation by asking a totally unrelated question or drop something

DELEGATE– get someone with authority involved

DOCUMENT– on video or writing out the incident afterwards. Never share the video without the target’s permission but let them you have the documentation and you will keep it confidential or share with them and delete it.

DIRECT– name the harassing, hurtful or disrespectful behaviour and tell the person to stop.

DELAY– you may be unable to intervene at the time of the incident-check in with the target afterwards and make sure they are ok-ask them if they what they need in the way of support.

OUCH! That stereotype hurts is a resource that has been used in many respectful workplace workshops. They offer these interventions:

ASSUME GOOD INTENT AND EXPLAIN THE IMPACT– “I know we may not fully understand but what you just said hurts.”

ASK A QUESTION– “not sure I really caught what you said, can you explain your thoughts more fully.”

INTERRUPT AND REDIRECT– “I don’t think I want to hear the rest of this story, do you have any special plans for the weekend.”

BROADEN TO UNIVERSAL BEHAVIOUR–  “This isn’t a genetic illness-it’s a virus anyone can get.”

MAKE IT INDIVIDUAL– “You mean absolutely everyone or a specific person?”

SAY OUCH!- sometimes you may feel you can’t respond calmly so this one word can be used to ensure the person knows that whatever just happened has caused pain.