There's a test you can take if you want to know how racist you are on a scale of colour-blind to likely to make statements like Julia Sloane.

It's private, it's reputable and takes less than 10 minutes.

The Harvard University-run quiz asks you to sort words and faces into two categories as fast as you can.

The idea is to find out how much you associate words like "awful", "evil", and "hurt" with the faces of black people that flash up in front of you.


On the flip side, it measures if white faces make you think of "joy", "happy" and "laughter".

Now seems an opportune time to test your bigotry, given claims that The Real Housewives of Auckland proves we're a country of casual racists.

In the latest - and most dramatic - episode, housewife Julia Sloane - who is white - refers to another housewife - who is not white - as a boat n*****. Things go understandably awry.

There is crying, yelling and a champagne glass used as a projectile.

It's a surprise anyone still uses the n-word this side of the millennium. It's the second-most offensive word in New Zealand and has been for at least 17 years, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But, it's a little hysterical to claim this is proof New Zealand is populated by a horde of casual racists who treat other ethnicities with the kind of cavalier disregard suggested by a phrase like casual racism.

This is a country that prides itself on standing up against racism in 1981, briefly abandoning its religion of rugby to protest apartheid in South Africa.

It's more likely the incident is the fault of Sloane living a pampered and out-of-touch lifestyle, hidden away from ordinary Kiwis who would pull her up on a phrase she claims she often uses in jest.

Still, the event has given us a good chance to have a hunt around the attic of our attitudes and toss out a few we don't need anymore. This is, after all, week two of a debate about racism in New Zealand.

Last week we questioned whether Nikolas Delegat - the son of winemaker Jim Delegat - received a seemingly light sentence for assaulting a policewoman because he was white. We also asked why white first-time offenders are twice as likely as Maori offenders to be let off with only a pre-charge warning.

In the same week, I met a woman in a regional city who twice referred to Maori men as "boy", in one case in the presence of the man in question, who looked like he'd seen about 40 more summers than your average boy.

Terms like "boy" are at worst loaded with connotations of slavery and oppression and at best patronising.

So, perhaps now is the time to spring clean ourselves of our racist attitudes.

Give the prejudice test a go.

If you score as having a strong or moderate preference for white people, you're with 54 per cent of the Americans who sat the test and maybe a bit of exposure to people who don't look like you would go a long way.

Given that only 17 per cent of participants scored no preference, chances are you'll have some sort of bias. That's not a diagnosis of casual racism, but it means there's room for improvement.