In the frame of the XVII week of Action Against Racism (22-27 March), a traditional UNAR appointment, the CHAMPS project – Champions of Human rights and community Model countering afro-Phobia and Stereotypes– gets underway. The week opened on 21 March on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with the message of the European Union which “reaffirms its firm commitment to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and any other form of intolerance”.
Analyze and deconstruct, in Italy, discriminatory attitudes and languages towards people of African origin, thanks to the active and strengthened role of Afro-descendant associations and to a more widespread knowledge and awareness of the dynamics that generate them. This is the mission of CHAMPS, supported by the European Union, which is implemented through the collaboration between Amref Health Africa Onlus-Italy, Arising Africans, Associazione Carta di Roma, CSVnet, CSV Marche, Divercity APS, Le Réseau, Osservatorio di Pavia andRazzismo Brutta Storia.
About 15 million people of African origin live in the EU: one of the largest minorities on the continent, one of the largest groups that suffers acts of discrimination. According to the report “Being black in the EU” (FRA/EU, 2018), 39% of people of African descent have felt discriminated against and experienced among the highest levels of socio-economic exclusion, suffered negative stereotypes and acts of violence and incitement to hatred (PAD Week – May 2018).
According again to the report “Being black in the EU”, discrimination is particularly evident in Italy: a country where there are often negative representations of Afro-descendants in the media, school curricula and teaching materials. In Italy there is also the absence of positive and consolidated images: “the 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 hatredremains clear. According to the IPSOS research “Attitudes towards national identity, immigration and refugees in Italy” (August 2018), Italy is the EU country with the largest gap between “perceived” and actually present migrants in the country. This false perception influences the hostile attitude towards migrants and the identification of immigration among the top concerns of Italians. The IPSOS Ciak MigrAction4 study underlines how stereotypes, stigmatization and anti-migrant messages, in particular 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.
In the week of activism against racism Amref and all the other partners started the work of CHAMPS, adopting three key actions which according to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) are fundamental to unhinge discrimination and hate speech: improve storytelling through data and analysis, strengthen partnershipsand their capacity for action.
Through CHAMPS, Afro-descendants and their organizations 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 origin. Focus on ambassadors who are sentinels in the key spaces of our society, to promote a new attention and ability to react in the face of Afrophobic attitudes.
In 2001, the Durban Declaration recognized Africans and their descendants as victims of slavery, who continue to suffer the consequences today.
In December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/237 proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 – 2024) to raise awareness of the international community on the subject. In the middle of the Decade, the objectives are still far from being achieved. Despite numerous advocacy actions, millions of people outside the African continent who identify as Afro descendants experience the worst conditions of poverty and marginalization.
In 2019, the EU Parliament adopted the resolution on the Fundamental Rights of People of African Descent in Europe (2018/2899), urging member states to develop strategies to end discrimination in areas such as education and health.
Amref Health Africais the largest non-profit health organization operating in sub-Saharan Africa since 1957, the year of its foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. Since its inception it has been operating in the most remote and vulnerable areas of Africa, with the aim of guaranteeing access to healthcare.
Arising Africansis a social promotion association born with the idea of bringing together young Afro-descendants / Afro-Italians and Italians with the aim of promoting a new joint action. It is a platform with young people who want to deconstruct the stereotypes about Africa and Africans conveyed daily by the Italian media.
Carta di Romais a non-profit association which aims to disseminate, consolidate and implement the “Protocol of ethics concerning asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking and migrants”, called the “Charter of Rome” signed by the National Council of Order of Journalists and the National Federation of the Italian Press.
CSV Marcheis the volunteer service center of the Italian region Marche. It is an group of organizations of third sector that pursues the qualification of voluntary organizations in the area and of citizens who want to start active citizenship paths.
CSVnethas associated almost all of the voluntary service centers operating throughout Italy since 1997. Organized into a network of about 400 service points, with over 800 employees, the CSVs deliver each year to more than 48 thousand non-profit associations over 240 thousand free services.
Divercity APSis a network of young Afro-Europeans based in a number of EU Member States (Italy, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium). The main vision of the association is to create and strengthen practices of overcoming all forms of discrimination and exclusion, and inspiring people to improve the myriad perspectives and experiences of the community.
Le Réseauis made up 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 immigrant associations and communities and the new generations.
Osservatorio di Paviais an independent research institute specialized in media analysis (web, TV, radio, press). Its main objective is the safeguarding of social, cultural and political pluralism through the development of innovative research and analysis methodologies.
Razzismo Brutta Storiais an association that works to fight racism and discrimination through cultural, educational and advocacy initiatives. Founded after the racist murder of the 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).