The De-escalator Guide – A Guide to Bystander Intervention in cases of Racism

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What could be an effective way to intervene when there is an outburst of racial harassment in a public place, i.e. at a train station, on the bus or in a shopping mall? Usually, we hear about these incidents after the fact, when a shaky video from someone’s phone captures a stranger yelling, shoving, threatening or otherwise harassing another stranger, seemingly over nothing. Once these videos invariably become public, they can lead to consequences: for the aggressor, the aggrieved and even the impromptu filmmaker.

But what about the bystanders—what should they do? Well, the De-Escalators Guide (which includes a handy flowchart!) can help assess the situation. The Guide is a four-page insert that briefly outlines what racism is, its historical roots in concepts such as the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ and stories of everyday people who have been racially discriminated against. The De-Escalator’s Guide can help build up some anti-racist “muscle memory” to help bystanders take action in a positive (and safe!) way.

The brochure is a product of Shift Lab based in Edmonton, Canada. Shift Lab came from a partnership between Edmonton Community Foundation and Skills Society Action Lab, the Edmonton Shift Lab is an action-oriented exploration of racism in our city. We are building on the great work already done in Edmonton and approaching these challenges through a social innovation lab to steward an exploration that can provide us with insights and prototypes into how we can make change. We have completed 2 cycles of the lab over the last 5 years. Shift Lab 1.0 and Shift 2.0.

Go to Bystander Guide


Ein Service des deutschen Präventionstages.