European-wide Action Week Against Racism
15-23 March 2014
We fit together!
Europe is today facing many forms of racism, hate speech, xenophobia, anti-migrant attitude and a growth of right-wing populism. These phenomena go straight against the very essence and central idea of what Europe was all about when it was being built after WW II: cooperation, solidarity, diversity, peace.
Europe is now in the midst of crisis: economically, socially and politically. Unemployment and erosion of social structures are widespread, influencing the general atmosphere in Europe and creating social unrest. A joint European effort to find sustainable solutions to these problems is missing. European leaders act in their own, national interests.
The on-going economic situation has caused a widespread lack of trust in the capacity of national and European governmental institutions to move Europe out of the recession. These institutions are seen as partly responsible for the deepening of the crisis, leaving millions of people unemployed.
Furthermore, right-wing parties, leaders and extremist groups use this crisis to their advantage to voice their populist ideas of exclusion and xenophobia. They speak a language of division and fear and argue for a singular society. In their discourse, populists blame different marginalised groups for the current economic and political situation. Their call for blaming “the other” causes our society to fall apart.
Many people are influenced by this populist discourse as well as by their own economic situation. Increasing unemployment and erosion of social structures are widespread processes, influencing the general atmosphere in Europe and thus unhinging society. People search for scapegoats and refrain from taking up responsibility for their own situation. People who cannot find a way to handle their fears follow populist and right-wing extremist leaders who preach easy solutions for complicated problems. Increasing extreme-right tendencies are not incidental problems; they are a broad phenomenon of ignorance and violent communication affecting society.
Minority groups in Europe face growing racist violence, suffer under racial profiling and policing, and are excluded from having equal access to services like housing, employment, health care and education. Stereotypes are artificially created and promoted by defamatory media coverage. Hate speech is the language of extremists and populist politicians. The impact of racism and discrimination on our societies today is significant: It affects all of us in various ways – whether we are its subjects or objects – making social cohesion impossible and paving the way for conflict.
Racism and discrimination is not only advocated by the openly racist. The tendency to divide and categorise minorities into over-generalised groups is deeply embedded at various levels in our societies and in our everyday activities. It can take the form of a negative look in the subway, or crossing the street to avoid someone from a minority. But while it might be a human condition to bear prejudices contained in our cultures, we do not have to live our lives as slaves to them.
SEE THE STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY
We can counter this negative spiral. During the European Action Week Against Racism we can spread our own message of solidarity, and show Europe that diversity makes us stronger. This is the moment to make our voice heard and change the current atmosphere. To overcome the crisis we need to make use of the strengths that come from diversity.
Diversity means seeing your surroundings from different perspectives, which makes us more flexible when finding solutions to the difficulties we now face. Allow space for diversity and find there is a lot to explore, to understand, and to learn from each other. Using the strength of diversity makes us more able to cope with a rapidly changing world. Being open for diversity – within Europe, your country, your society, your neighbourhood, and yourself – strengthens the social cohesion we need to tackle the current atmosphere. Diversity = Strength
WE FIT TOGETHER
Action should be taken on all levels in Europe, from local neighbourhoods to European institutions. We need to show the people around us that we can all live side by side. By helping each other and standing up for the “other” we can make a difference and turn the economic, social and political tides. We believe in a future without discrimination and exclusion, and with intercultural respect, solidarity and equal rights. With this goal, we stand UNITED in our struggle to see the strength of diversity.
What we need most is the courage to speak out against exclusion, discrimination, hate and racism wherever we see it: in our streets, at our schools, on the Internet or within our institutions and governments.
Since the early 1990s, UNITED has coordinated and inspired annual pan-European activities promoting diversity to mark 21 March. Take this opportunity and be part of the European Action Week Against Racism. In this week hundreds of organisations and thousands of activists throughout Europe join forces across borders to raise awareness about the issues mentioned and celebrate diversity. We will not watch in silence as intolerance is dictating our lives. On the contrary we will raise our voices against inequality and discrimination. Our message needs to be visible to be recognised and therefore the movement depends on your support. Organise an activity and have an enormous impact on creating cohesion, establishing intercultural dialogue and spreading the antiracist agenda.
• Tell us about your activity and it will be promoted on the event map on weekagainstracism.eu.
• Tweet about your activity with #ARW14.
Combining all different pieces we show that we DO fit together, and that together we are stronger!