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2020 - LE.MO.N.

We need to talk about racism

Aga - from Cazalla Intercultural

“We need to talk about racism. And we need to act. It is always possible to change direction if there is a will to do so. I am glad to live in a society that condemns racism. But we should not stop there. The motto of our European Union is: ‘United in diversity’. Our task it to live up to these words, and to fulfil their meaning”

– President von der Leyen, European Parliament, 17 June 2020 

The word racism has been present in the European youth work since I remember, meaning at least 20 years, but in 2020 something very important has happened. On 18th September 2020, the European Commission launched a new EU anti-racism action plan (2020-2025), which is a turning point in the narrative on racial equality and justice in Europe. 

First of all, it is important to mention that this document was not foreseen by European Commission and the topic of racism has been brought to the agenda by the black lives matter uprising. And then the Action Plan is finally recognizing a structural racism, what many organizations has been advocating for, for a long time. We can read in the document ¨This structural racism perpetuates the barriers placed in the way of citizens solely due to their racial or ethnic origin. Every day, people affected by racism can feel its impact on their access to jobs, healthcare, housing, financing or education, as well as cases of violence.¨

What does it all mean to the European Youth Work field? First of all, it is a time to reevaluate if we are prepared to contribute to the action plan, and if we understand well what racism is, and what are all the aspects of racism that for many years has been invisible or normalized for many people. When we are ready on the personal level, it would be a time to reevaluate our organizations and see how inclusive we are. And the final step would be to mainstream anti-racism in the everyday work with young people. 

There are a lot of great resources for you to learn from. Cazalla Intercultural with partners has developed within the STAR project resources which could be very helpful for you, to understand different dimensions of racism, and get ideas on how to work those topics with young people. So, if you are interested to learn more, please check out:

  • Conceptual recommendations for working with young people on the topic of racism in Europe
  • CONSTELLATIONS – A manual for working with young people on the topic of racism and invisible racism
  • Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) – Make it visible! Working with young people against (invisible) racism