Dealing with a couple of racists – an unscripted and real encounter

Today’s post is a tricky one and not for click baiting. Normally, we focus on positive, uplifting conversations and experiences. We decided that this one did not start or end in an uplifting manner, but might give you ideas on how to counter people with Great Replacement Theory ideas. This is our disclaimer for anyone who might be triggered by the content below. Themes include racism, irrationality, language sovereignty, quick thinking and Patti Smith concert etiquette. The conversation below is what happened.

Our director, Louise Tu’u, attended a robust and invigorating community meeting last night at the Otahuhu Town Hall, which unfortunately started with her, engaging with someone who said this as she spoke to a child in fa’aSamoa/Samoan:

“Why can’t you speak English? It’s rude to talk in other languages, instead of English.”

The two Pakeha racists, gunning for the sandwiches at the conclusion of the meeting.

Here’s what Louise did to the older racist Pakeha lady:

LT: Excuse me, but we are Samoan so that is what we speak.

Old Racist (OR): But we’re in New Zealand.

LT: Correct. You are allowed to speak whatever you like.

OR mutters incoherent to Purple Racist (PR) (see photo above) then to Louise: “I’m part Maori and we don’t have to listen to you”.

LT: Good for you.

OR interjects: We don’t have to speak Maori. Here, we speak English.

Louise is confused as OR is either baiting her or just plain cuckoo. Louise decides to go with the latter.

LT: What does one speak on a marae? Japanese? No, it’s Te Reo Maori.

OR mutters.

LT: Sorry, what is your problem.

OR: It’s your problem.

LT: You do know that the local board is mostly Maori and Pasifika and speak other languages than Anglo (Louise’s term for English)

Child says something in Samoan to LT and looks nervously at OR, who mutters to PR. Louise answers child in fa’aSamoa

LT: (to OR) Don’t worry, we weren’t talking about you.

OR: Why don’t you just go back to where you come from?

LT: I come from Grey Lynn. Do you know where that is? On the other side of the city, babe.

OR continues to mutter about people not speaking English.

LT agitated: Look, just be like Patti Smith in her 1979 concert in Germany when she sings, “Dancing Barefoot”. Be cool, be cool.

LT, still agitated, turns to child, who looks fearful, smiles and instructs them in fa’aSamoa to move closer to them and turn to the meeting leaders.

Two council members spoke to Louise Tu’u afterwards, expressing their concern and marvelling at her quick thinking and calm response. The two racists continued to whisper passive-aggressively about the proceedings, community opinions and life in general. It was a real shame that this is how they choose to engage with the world.

The reason why we share this is not to highlight the quick-wittedness of Louise (and she did say all of the above, as did the racists and child) but to share how inexplicable this is in 2023, especially in the predominantly brown and proud area where it took place. If you encounter this, speak with the person about how unreasonable they are, then share it with other people. Louise did not want to go away and bottle this experience up but make sure that one uses their words and language to speak up at the time, especially with children around.

If you have had a similar experience, please comment on this post.

Manuia le Aso Faraile/Happy Friday!

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