In the frame of the 17th Week of Action Against Racism (22-27 March), traditional appointment of UNAR, kicks off the project CHAMPS – Champions of Human rights And community Model countering afro-Phobia and Stereotypes. The week opened on March 21st, on the occasion of the International Day for the Fight against Racial Discrimination, with a message from the European Union that “reiterates its firm commitment to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and any other form of intolerance”.
Analyse and deconstruct, in Italy, discriminatory attitudes and languages towards people of African origin thanks to the active and strengthened role of associations of afro-descendants and a more widespread knowledge and awareness of the dynamics that generate them. This is the mission of CHAMPS, supported by the European Union, which provides for collaboration between Amref Health Africa Onlus-Italia, Arising Africans, Association Carta di Roma, CSVnet, CSV Marche, Divercity APS, Le Réseau, Osservatorio di Pavia, and Razzismo Brutta Storia.
Almost 15 million people of African origin live in the EU: they are one of the largest minorities on the continent and one of the largest groups suffering discrimination. According to the report “Being Black in the EU” (FRA/EU, 2018), 39% of people of African origin felt discriminated against and experienced among the highest levels of socio-economic exclusion, suffered negative stereotypes, acts of violence, and incitement to hatred (PAD Week – May 2018).
According to the report “Being Black in the EU”, discrimination is particularly evident in Italy, a country in which we often report negative representations of afro-descendants in the media, in school curricula, and in teaching materials.
In Italy, there is also the absence of positive and consolidated images: “black Italian” is an archetype that struggles to be accepted and become normal and also includes the “new generation” of Italians, still perceived as “foreigners” (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,Mission to Italy on Racial Discrimination, with a focus on incitement to racial hatred and discrimination, 2019). Discrimination based on ethnic and migrant background, according to the Being Black report, is experienced in most areas of life: health, education, work, media, and communication.
The link between Afrophobia and anti-migrant hatred remains clear. According to IPSOS research “Attitudes towards national identity, immigration, and refugees in Italy” (August 2018), Italy is the EU country with the greatest gap between “perceived” migrants and those actually present in the country. This false perception influences the hostile attitude towards migrants and the identification of immigrants among the highest concerns of Italians. The IPSOS Ciak MigrAction4 survey highlights how stereotypes, stigmatization, and anti-migrant messages, particularly towards Afro-descendants, are also linked to a low level of knowledge about Africa as well as distorted or partial information, often supported by the media and politics.
During the week of anti-racism activism, AMREF and the entire partnership started the work of CHAMPS, taking three key actions that, according to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), are fundamental to undermining discrimination and hate speech: Improve reporting through data and analysis, strengthening partnerships and their ability to take action.
Through CHAMPS, afrodescendants and their organisations are trained and supported to play an active role as promoters of a new widespread awareness of discriminatory attitudes and languages towards people of African descent. To focus on ambassadors who are sentinels in the key spaces of our society in order to promote a new attention and capacity for reaction in the face of afrophobic attitudes.
Commitments of the International Community
- The Durban Declaration of 2001 recognised Africans and their descendants as victims of slavery. They are still suffering the consequences.
- In December 2013, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/237 proclaimed the International Decade for Persons of African Descent (2015-2024) to raise awareness of the issue among the international community. The goals are still far from being achieved in the middle of the decade. Despite numerous actions for protection, millions of people outside the African continent who identify themselves as African descendants live in the worst conditions of poverty and marginalization.
- In 2019, the EU Parliament passed a resolution (2018/2899) on the Fundamental Rights of People of African Origin in Europe, urging member states to develop strategies to eliminate discrimination in areas such as education and health.
Amref Health Africa is the largest non-profit health organisation in sub-Saharan Africa since its foundation in 1957 in Nairobi, Kenya. Since its inception, it has operated in the most remote and vulnerable areas of Africa, with the aim of ensuring access to health.
Arising Africans is a social promotion association born with the idea of bringing together young Afro-descendants and African-Italians with the aim of promoting a new joint action. It’s a platform of young people who want to deconstruct the stereotypes about Africa and Africans conveyed daily by the Italian media.
Carta di Roma is a non-profit association that aims to disseminate, consolidate and implement the “Deontological Protocol concerning asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking and migrants”, called the “Carta di Roma”, signed by the National Council of the Order of Journalists and the National Federation of the Italian Press.
CSV Marche is the service centre for volunteering in the Marche region. It is an organisation of third-sector organisations that pursues the qualification of voluntary organisations on the territory and citizens who want to start paths of active citizenship.
Csvnet has linked nearly all volunteer service centres in Italy since 1997. Articulated in a net of approximately 400 points-service with more than 800 operators, the CSVs provide over 240 thousand free services to more than 48 thousand non-profit associations every year.
Divercity APS is a network of young African Europeans based in several EU Member States (Italy, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium). The main vision of the association is to create and strengthen practises to overcome all forms of discrimination and exclusion and inspire people to improve the countless perspectives and experiences of the community.
Le Réseau is composed of a group of African and Italian intellectuals. The association acts against all forms of discrimination; it promotes the integration and social coexistence of the various immigrant communities in Italy and supports the associations and communities of immigrants and the new generations.
Osservatorio di Pavia is an independent research institute specialising in media analysis (web, TV, radio, and press). Its main objective is to safeguard social, cultural, and political pluralism through the development of innovative research and analysis methodologies.
Razzismo Brutta Storia is an association that works to contrast racism and discrimination through cultural, educational, and advocacy initiatives. Founded after the racist assassination of 19-year-old Italian Abdel William Guibre, known as Abba, in 2008 in Milan, it carries out training courses, produces materials, and promotes campaigns on rights issues. It is based in Milan but works throughout the country and is part of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).