Speak Up!

Don't accept bigotry, challenge it

Learn how to raise your voice and respond to everyday bigotry. The Speak Up! campaign is designed to educate you about the impact of everyday bigotry (e.g. racist, homophobic or sexist comments in casual conversation) and develop ways to respond to it. One of the first steps to celebrating diversity is to end the everyday incidents of bigotry, ignorance and oppression by speaking up and creating change through meaningful conversations.

Six steps for speaking up against everyday bigotry:

  1. Be ready: Promise yourself to not remain silent, know that it will happen again, and summon your courage—whatever it takes. Practice things to say: “Why did you say that?” or “Do you really believe that?”
  2. Identify the behaviour: Use reflective listening, avoid labeling, name-calling or blame. Describe the behaviour, don’t label the person. (e.g. “What I hear you saying is that all Mexicans/Canadians/Australians/whoever are lazy.”)
  3. Appeal to principles: This works well if you know the person, like a friend, sibling, co-worker, etc. (e.g. “Joe, I’ve always thought of you as a fair-minded person. It really shocks me when I hear you say something like that.”)
  4. Set limits: You can’t control another person, but you can control what happens in your space. (e.g. “Please don’t tell racist jokes around me anymore.” or “I don’t allow homophobia in my home.”) Follow through on the limits you set.
  5. Find an ally/be an ally: Seek out like-minded people for support or support others in their challenges. Lead by example and inspire others to do the same.
  6. Be vigilant: Change happens slowly, but be prepared and keep speaking up. Don’t let yourself be silenced.

For more information on the Speak Up! program and workshops, contact the Human Rights and Equity Services Office.