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!
I’ve spent this past week in London and met with two of the country’s most successful race equality organisations – Race Equality Foundation and Runnymede Trust
Race Equality Foundation was set up by social workers, and as such their focus is on race equality in areas such as housing, health, and more generally in the community.
They also run a successful parenting program that is designed to provide training for parents with the aim of challenging crime and empowering parents to take a proactive role within their communities. This program has grown year on year and the organisation derives income from it, which helps to financially support some of their other activities.
Runnymede Trust on the other hand focuses on research, public events and policy engagement. They are the leading race equality think thank in the UK and their research is very highly regarded.
Around a year ago, Runnymede started a public awareness-raising campaign with End Racism This Generation. The campaign is based on their research and aims to engage the wider population to shift the public debate on racism.
The organisation’s website houses a range of race equality resources which will be useful for Australian antiracists.
Both of these organisations’ successes and challenges highlight the need for creating solutions to empower people to make change. Doing research and policy engagement is not enough. In Australia, one of the reasons for All Together Now’s inception was exactly this point: unless the public are involved in creating the solution (e.g. by speaking up when they witness racism), research and policy change activities will not be as effective or long-lasting.
Another thing that struck me is both organisations have a clear focus on intersectionality issues, and they do this by working with other civil society organisations working on connected human rights issues. For example they work together with LGBT rights organisations, to make a case for positive policy and institutional change for Black and Asian lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered people.
This past week has been an interesting one to be staying in the UK, with the European elections and the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Clearly there is more work to be done to counter the far right and limit their influence. I’ve noticed the reluctance of people in the media spotlight to discuss racism openly – this is in sharp contrast to my observations in the USA where racism appears to be challenged very directly.
I’ve also noticed anti-Eastern European sentiment in the UK – they are among the latest wave of migrants being accused of taking locals’ jobs and housing, and opinion seems to be divided as to whether or not abuse directed towards Eastern Europeans is racism – because they are white. It’s quite fitting that my next stop on the Churchill tour will be Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where many of these migrants originate. More soon!
I’ve arrived in Montgomery, Alabama!
Before I started my Churchill Fellowship, the only thing I knew about Alabama was Neil Young’s song of the same name. Let me tell you that after only two days in Montgomery, I’m now much better informed about Montgomery!
So back in the mid 1800s Montgomery was one of the most prominent slave trading communities in Alabama due to its geography and economy based on cotton production. Between 1808 and 1860, Montgomery grew from a population of 40,000 to more than 435,000 due to slavery.
In the 1860s Montgomery was geographically instrumental in the Civil War, and is the location of the first White House of the Confederacy. In the early days of the Confederacy, Jim Crow mandated segregation. This meant that African Americans had to use different public facilities than the ones used by white people including drinking fountains, healthcare, schools, bathrooms, and hotels. They were not allowed to vote.
This reminder of the historic injustices in Montgomery is told on signs around the town centre, many erected by the Equal Justice Initiative. (Also: check out their comprehensive racial justice timeline).
You may have already heard of Rosa Parks. At the end of a long day at work, Rosa was seated in the front “white section” of the bus on her way home. As the bus became full the driver asked her to stand and move to the “colored section” at the back because there weren’t enough seats for white people to sit down. She refused to move, so the bus driver called the cops and Rosa was arrested.
That night, the Women’s Political Council created fliers calling for a bus boycott by African Americans and distributed them the following day.
A couple of days later, Martin Luther King Jnr’s Sunday sermon included a plea for fairness and justice. He compelled his African American congregation to refuse to ride on the buses to end racial segregation.
The next day African Americans either walked to work or stayed home. This action – the Montgomery Bus Boycott – continued for over a year until the court ordered the state to desegregate the buses.
I did not realise all this happened right here in Montgomery! The Rosa Parks Museum was first on my list of places to visit and as you can probably tell, it didn’t disappoint!
Fast forward five years to 1961, when segregation on interstate buses and bus terminals was still in force. An interracial group of students were determined to continue the Freedom Ride that had been stopped due to violence in a nearby town. They sat together, defying the segregation laws. Their bus arrived at the Greyhound station in Montgomery where Klan supporters armed with baseball bats, ropes and chains were waiting. They attacked the riders, and some were left unconscious.
These are just a couple of stories from the American Civil Rights movement. There are many more. At the Civil Rights Memorial Center I learned there have been many people from all around the country who have contributed to racial justice. In the Center, I added my name to the Wall of Tolerance, committing to work for justice, equality and human rights.
Some of the pioneers like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jnr are commemorated on the Civil Rights Memorial out the front of the Center.
Back in July last year I was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship.
Each year a small number of Australians are rewarded for excellence in their field by becoming a Churchill Fellow. Every Fellow designs their own research project culminating in an overseas tour, with the aim of learning more and improving their practice.
So next Sunday my tour begins. I will leave Sydney for a seven-week journey to North America and Europe to investigate successful racism prevention projects and find out what makes them effective.
I will be visiting around 20 different organisations and projects starting off in Montgomery, Alabama. From there I will be travelling to New York, then London, Warsaw, Newcastle, Paris, Antwerp and Brussels.
This formal part of the tour will be followed by a short trip to Stockholm to visit Robert Orell, the former white supremacist who visited Australia late last year on behalf of All Together Now’s Exit White Power project.
During the trip I will be writing about the people I meet and the things I learn about racism prevention along the way. Please follow my journey on this blog over the next seven weeks to learn more about how people are addressing racism overseas.