As the world marks International Day for the Elimination of Racism on Saturday, the Greek branch of NGO ActionAid has released the results of a small public experiment it conducted on February 20 to gauge the public’s reaction to a staged racist attack.
The organization hired two actors – one to play a belligerent, racist Greek and the other a quiet Bangladeshi – and placed them at a two busy bus stops near downtown Athens during rush hour, where they acted out variations of a scene in which the Greek orders the Bangladeshi to get up off the bench and abuses him with racial slurs.
A camera crew located across the street recorded the responses of the genuine commuters waiting at the bus stop. The scene was repeated 22 times over the course of eight hours to an “audience” of more than 200 commuters.
The results of the experiment are optimistic as in 15 of the 22 scenes, the public reacted in favor of the Bagladeshi and lambasted the “Greek racist” for his behavior. On four occasions there was no reaction whatsoever, and on two members of the public sided with the “racist.”
“Racism begins and ends with is. Each and every one of us must stand up to racist phenomena and stand beside the people that suffer them,” said ActionAid Hellas chief Gerasimos Kouvaras in a statement on the release of the experiment’s results. “For over 40 years we have championed the poor and disenfranchised, the people who are discriminated against. We could not remain silent toward phenomena of racism in our own country.”