This year, Priscilla Brice, receiver of the 2013 Churchill Fellowship and Managing Director of All Together Now, researched the factors which make non-profit racism prevention initiatives effective in Poland, Belgium, France, UK, and USA.
One of the most notable findings was the extent to which the socio-political will to address racism in a country affects the success of antiracism activities in that country. Socio-political will impacts on the number and type of funding options available, the types of actions that not-for-profit organisations choose to take, and the way in which the media reports on racism and its manifestations.
There are some very effective initiatives and common tactics to be found on both sides of the North Atlantic that Australia can learn from. Of highest importance is having a sustained and long-term commitment to achieving racial equality by working in cross-sector partnerships to create practical solutions that are evidence-based.
The full report on her findings can be download from the Churchill Fellowship website.
Churchill Fellowship is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is based on the report: Brice, P. 2014, A study into the factors which make non-profit racism prevention initiatives effective, 2013 Churchill Report, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Canberra.
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You may remember that back in July ’13 I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate the factors that make non-profit racism prevention initiatives effective. So earlier this year I travelled to USA, England, France, Poland, and Belgium to learn from some of the most effective antiracism programs around the world
Since I’ve been back I’ve written a report on my findings, which you can download from the Churchill Fellowship website.
In summary, Australia needs to have a sustained and long-term commitment to achieving racial equality by working in cross-sector partnerships to create practical solutions that are evidence-based. All Together Now has been working in this way since 2010 and continues to seek the support of journalists, funders and activists to support this work to make it possible:
My report contains recommendations to All Together Now’s board based on what I learned during the Fellowship. The recommendations – should they be approved – will improve All Together Now’s approach to racism prevention. Recommendations include
All Together Now’s Board of Directors will make a statement in response to these recommendations once they have been fully considered.
Belgium is the last stop on the formal program of my Churchill tour. Of the countries visited during this fellowship, Belgium seems to have the most complexity in terms of racism and antiracism. Entire books have been written about this so I won’t attempt to delve into the details here!
However it is important to point out that there are two major language and cultural groups in Belgium: Flanders which represents around 60% of the population, and French which comprises Brussels and Wallonia. In addition to these populations there are also many newer immigrant groups.
Given the cultural differences between Flanders and the French areas of Belgium, it is difficult for an antiracism organization to cover the whole Belgium population. This is why I met with Kif Kif and Hand in Hand (both located in Antwerp – in the Flemish part of Belgium) and MRAX (which is located in Brussels – in the French part of Belgium).
In both the Flemish and French parts of Belgium there are government subsidies available for not-for-profit advocacy organisations, so the three organisations I met with are government-funded.
The first organisation I met with was Kif Kif. This organisation trains its 100+ volunteers to write journalistic pieces for the Kif Kif website with an intercultural lens. Journalists write analyses of media reporting, reviews of arts and culture, opinion pieces and investigative journalism. In this way the organization gives a voice to new writers, as well as building debate as an independent media outlet with 10,000 daily readers. The organisation prides itself on working directly with migrant communities.
Afterwards I met with Hand in Hand. It is a smaller organisation with volunteers across the Flemish region of Belgium. Hand in Hand has worked on a range of antiracism projects and its current focus is on racism in employment recruitment. It works in partnership with a range of civil society organisations (including Kif Kif) to raise awareness about issues of racism.
Finally, I travelled to Brussels to meet with MRAX which stands for Movement Against Racism, Antisemitism and Xenophobia. It is a grassroots organisation which, similarly to Kif Kif, takes its cue from people at the community level to create projects resulting in institutional change.
MRAX works to educate people about their rights by giving talks in schools, businesses and community organisations about racism, discrimination and the law. It provides information directly to new migrants or people seeking information about their rights in relation to racism and racial discrimination – including institutional racism.
MRAX also provides legal advice and legal support for people to seek reparations. They often work directly on issues that affect their clients such as asylum and immigration law.
So, that’s all for the formal part of the ATNxChurchill tour! However I’m taking another few days to travel to Sweden and meet with some very interesting organisations there. Last stop: Stockholm!
It’s week five of the Churchill Fellowship and I’ve just spent the last few days speaking with antiracism organisations in Paris!
The first thing I learned was that in France, racism is complex and there are a multitude of issues. There is overt institutional and interpersonal racism toward Roma people. I’m getting the impression Roma people are subjected to racism whichever country they live in.
Institutional and interpersonal racism toward people with African heritage is still common, even though decolonization and the Algerian War of Independence (a war between France and Algeria leading to its independence from French colonisation) concluded in the 1960s.
Far-right politicians have tried to capitalize on the public mood, and unfortunately they are succeeding. In the recent European Union election, France’s far right party Front National attracted 25% of the national vote (you can read more about this via New Statesman). Even some politicians who claim to be more progressive have recently been found guilty of saying racist comments, and there is a general lack of denial of racism by parliamentarians.
Despite these issues, the antiracism community across France remains active and passionate. There are four major organisations working on antiracism; the two solely dedicated to antiracism are Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisemitisme (LICRA) and SOS Racisme. More recently, new initiatives have emerged such as Les Invisibles which is attracting a new generation of activists.
LICRA was launched in the 1920s and so it has several generations of supporters. It offers legal assistance, raises public awareness of the issues, enables people to report racism via a mobile phone app, and produces a regular magazine.
Hundreds of people volunteer for LICRA around France, and these activists decide what is best in their area whether it is giving speeches in schools about racism and decolonisation, hosting theatre performances, or involving the community in sports like soccer and rugby. The LICRA officers support these volunteers and enable them to do this important work.
In contrast, Les Indivisibles is a much younger and smaller organisation but no less effective. They run an annual awards ceremony with a twist: it is a comedy event where awards are presented to the most racist comments said during the year! People can nominate and vote on candidates. Les Indivisibles also provides antiracism training.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Café Babel which does not aim to prevent racism per se, however it is an intercultural project so its work relates closely to antiracism work.
The organisation runs an online multilingual pan-European current affairs magazine written by volunteer correspondents around Europe. Café Babel employees edit the stories for publication, as well as train new volunteers how to write in a pan-European context. This is a successful cross-cultural youth project that has won awards for its work.
It has been really inspiring speaking to the people who work in these successful initiatives … but onwards! Next stop: Antwerp and Brussels.
On a brief trip to Newcastle in the north of England I met with some of the team at Show Racism The Red Card , possibly the biggest racial equality organisation in the UK.
The organisation started in the mid-90s by publishing resources about antiracism, and this quickly followed by antiracism training in schools.
Show Racism The Red Card works with role models who have a strong public profile to spread the message of antiracism to school children, teachers, union members, employees and other groups.
They are most well-known for their work with high profile soccer players, soccer being the most popular sport in the UK.
Of the organisations I’ve met with so far, Show Racism The Red Card is one of the few which actively evaluates its social impact, and activists are able to download the independently-verified program evaluations from the website .
Earlier this week I took a trip down to the Auschwitz Museum, about 3½ hours’ drive from Warsaw.
I have to admit this side trip wasn’t on my original list of things to see during the Churchill Fellowship tour. I’ve read many books about the Jewish Holocaust and so wasn’t looking forward to visiting the most notorious of all WWII death camps. However given the topic of my research I felt that the visit was necessary … and I’m always up for learning something new.
So there were three camps around the town Oświęcim, which was called Auschwitz by the Germans, and tourists are able to visit two of the camps.
The first stop on the visit was the Auschwitz I camp. I was surprised how sophisticated the set-up was: it gives the impression of permanence, as though the Nazis felt they would be carrying on their activities for quite some time. Many of the buildings in which prisoners were held were 3-story brick buildings with glazed windows, ceramic stoves and concrete floors. These buildings were bare, but they were built to last.
In some of these buildings the museum curators have sought to demonstrate the huge number of people murdered by the Nazis. In one very large room is a very large pile of human hair from the heads of the dead. This room is several meters long. The hair was used to fill mattresses. Much of the hair is still braided – it’s too horrible to describe. Another very large room is filled with people’s shoes – some of them look to be what would have been peoples’ best dress shoes – and in another room a large hill of tin pots… it goes on.
We were also shown some of the prison cells that many were housed in, including the standing cell which is the size of a broom cupboard. This was next door to the building where many “medical experiments” were conducted on Jews.
After the tour around Auschwitz I camp, we were taken to Auschwitz II-Birkenau which is a short bus ride away. The entrance to this camp is seen in the film Schindler’s List. The train tracks run through this entrance into the middle of the camp, where people were “sorted” into those that were fit to work, and everyone else. Of course those who were deemed not fit to work – women, children, the elderly – were lead to the gas chambers at the far end of the camp.
The Birkenau camp is vast and no photograph can describe the scale of this camp. It might be 1km deep and at least 2km wide, although that’s just my estimation.
The housing here is far more basic than in Auschwitz I. The camp was built in 4 stages and each stage seems more basic than the previous one (the housing built in the final stages were wooden and were burned down by the Nazis to try and hide the evidence). We entered some of the buildings constructed during the first stage and they were barn-like and filled with built-in bunk beds too small to lie out flat on.
I learned that Hitler never visited Auschwitz, and he wasn’t interested in the details of torture or murder like the gas chambers. The ideas for these ghastly acts were dreamt up by the Nazi officers controlling each of the camps. I think we often tend to look solely to Hitler as being the perpetrator of it all, but we should remember there were many ordinary people who committed war crimes and they are all to blame for what happened, alongside their leader.
So, that was my visit to Auschwitz, a tour I won’t forget in a hurry!
Later in the week I met with Między Innymi Among Others which is a Polish organisation providing intercultural skills training to university students who are studying to become school teachers.
Although this organization is only three years old, they have already had some great success. At first they started out by inviting universities to participate in their program. Now, going into their fourth year, they are receiving enquiries from universities asking them to work in their university!
The Among Others program operates by providing a two-day course. It starts with a 1-day introduction to intercultural education, which is compulsory for all participating universities. The second day is on one of three topics of the university’s choice including aiding the development of intercultural competencies of children and young people; intercultural communication; working in intercultural teams; and stereotypes.
Among Others has a great quote by Kapuscinski on their website which I think summarises the intent of their work really well:
So humans always have had three possibilities
When meeting others:
They could choose war,
They could erect a well,
They could start a dialogue…
Later in the week, I visited Nigdy Więcej Never Again. This organization was established in the early 1990s, first to monitor far right hate crime, and later it expanded to produce some long-running community awareness-raising programs. These consist of the publication of an annual magazine on issues of racism, as well as their sports programs, Music Against Racism (which is a thematic partner at the annual Polish Woodstock festival) and Racism Delete (addressing cyber racism).
I first contacted Never Again because I was aware they are one of the leading organisations on the FARE Network which aims to tackle discrimination through football. I’ve now learnt that their work in sports is much broader than that. Never Again worked as a social responsibility partner with UEFA during the Poland-Ukraine European football championship recently, and was also the recipient of some of the funds raised by Nike during their Stand Up Speak Up campaign in Europe.
Never Again is run almost entirely by volunteers and they have seen many successes as a result of this determination and dedication to addressing racism. They have done this by focusing on trying to change the public conversation in Poland. Now, it is much more difficult for people to deny the existence of race hate in Poland, which is an important step in dealing with this issue.
Activists can read some of their tactics on building an antiracist movement via the New Tactics for Human Rights website