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  • WE ALL DANCE THE SAME EARTH:  Interview with Lina Mechbal from ENAR

    "THE STATEMENT "WE ALL DANCE THE SAME EARTH" SUGGESTS A SHARED HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND A CONNECTION THAT TRANSCENTS CULTURAL, RACIAL, OR ETHNIC DIFFERENCES."

    To give you a deeper insight into the work of ENAR , to show you what we can all do as individuals and as a collective in the fight against racism and to give you more information about fact-based research, we sat down with Lina Mechbal. Lina works at ENAR as Policy Advisor : Equal@Work (Employment, Diversity & Inclusion) and answered some questions for us.

    Find out what we're up to on Black Friday 2023 in our blog!

    Scroll down to read the full interview.

    What can we do to establish a more inclusive and racism-free environment?

    Establishing a more inclusive and racism-free environment calls for a collective effort at individual, institutional and societal levels. This involves promoting education on the four dimensions of racism (historical, individual, institutional and structural), fostering conversations about racism and implementing holistic approaches to all areas of life (economic justice, recognition of the colonial past and of current neocolonial states and actions, climate justice, rule of law, individual freedom etc.)

    Individuals can contribute by acknowledging their positionality in society, challenging stereotypes, being mindful of implicit biases, educating oneself, and speaking out against discriminatory language and/or behavior. They can also support minority-owned businesses and initiatives that promote social justice. Advocacy for diversity in leadership positions, the promotion of equal opportunities and the implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination policies and legislation are crucial aspects of creating an inclusive environment.

    Workplaces and institutions must implement diversity and inclusion tools and policies, including training programs – but not only. It is important to seek systemic and structural change by going beyond symbolic change. By collecting equity data through an intersectional lens, structures can shape and monitor evidence-based policies, provide resources to employees, leaving room for perspectives that challenge the dominant narrative, making sure that physical spaces are accessible to everyone – creating spaces that are truly inclusive involves fostering environments where individuals feel comfortable expressing their identities and celebrating cultural and religious diversity.

    Of course, media plays a role in the shaping of a racist-free society and the way it portrays communities. Individuals can support diverse voices and perspectives in the media they consume.

    What topics are you most concerned about at the moment?

    The ongoing rise and mainstreaming of the far-right are the most concerning topic.

    Racialized groups, who play an important role in European societies and economies by contributing to Europe's prosperity, are continuously stigmatized by politicians and government officials, with direct and violent impact on their daily lives, well-being and safety. Despite the diversity in the European population, narratives that stigmatize, scapegoat and seek to vilify racialized communities are gaining ground and influence and these tricks down to so many institutional, economic, and societal layers, leading to dangerous paths for our society. This narrative is reflected in the increasing number of illiberal and discriminatory policies, practices and incidents of racism. The intertwined relationship between the increasing right-wing voice in the political landscape and the rise of hate crime and hate speech is worrying as the political discourse legitimizes attacks on racialized minorities.

    On the other hand, voices challenging the dominant racist narrative and working against the establishment of mainstream racism are facing shrinking civic spaces, attacks from both the far-right and governments that do not present themselves as right-wing but legislate against civil societies, grassroots organizations and other actors and actresses raising the voice of affected communities.

    The consistent failure to tackle the threat of the rising far-right on the European level (but also at a global scale) has led to a progressive shift in European politics towards the right, thus legitimizing racism and discrimination at state levels. That is why the upcoming European elections represent an important opportunity for a progressive anti-racist, decolonial and intersectional voice to gain momentum.

    In which way does our statement “we all dance the same earth” also reflect ENAR's values?

    The statement "we all dance the same earth" suggests a shared human experience and a connection that transcends cultural, racial, or ethnic differences. It implies a recognition of our common humanity and the idea that, despite our diverse backgrounds, we all inhabit the same planet and share a collective responsibility for its well-being.

    In the context of an organization like ENAR, which is dedicated to combating racism and promoting equality, this statement aligns with values ​​centered around inclusivity, diversity, and the belief that everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities. It emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and celebrating our shared humanity while advocating for the elimination of discriminatory practices that arise from the historical negative perception of racial or ethnic differences.

    The phrase can also convey the idea that, just as people from diverse backgrounds can come together in the metaphorical dance of life, societies should strive to create environments that embrace diversity and reject discrimination. It underscores the importance of unity and collaboration in addressing the challenges posed by racism and working towards a more inclusive and equitable world, highlighting the fact that fostering an antiracist society requires a collective effort and alignment!

    Which projects will be supported by our charity T-shirts?

    Firstly, a warm thank you to Asphaltgold for continuing this collaboration and taking part in the antiracist work by dedicating part of your collection to support anti-racist initiatives!

    The income generated by the charity T-shirts will help support our network. In fact, the proceeds from the charity T-shirts will aid us in providing financial support to grassroots anti-racism organizations that are more and more attacked and weakened. This funding will not only cover the expenses of projects dedicated to supporting racialized communities but also extend to financing their day-to-day operations, supporting organizational development, and contributing to their overall sustainability and resilience.

    What changes in people's mindset have you noticed in the last few years?
    Do people think differently today than they did 25 years ago when ENAR was set up?

    Over the past few years, there has been a notable increase in awareness and discussions surrounding issues related to racism. The Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd, in particular, gained significant momentum, sparking conversations about systemic racism and inequality on a global scale.

    Increased access to information through social media and online platforms has played a crucial role in bringing attention to instances of racism and discrimination. This increased awareness has led to a growing recognition of the need for societal change and a more inclusive and equitable world.

    Comparing the present to 25 years ago, there has been progress in terms of increased acknowledgment of the existence and impact of racism. Many people today are more informed about the complexities of racism, and there is a greater emphasis on addressing systemic issues rather than solely focusing on individual prejudices.

    However, challenges persist, and there are varying degrees of awareness and understanding across different communities and regions. Some individuals may still resist acknowledging the existence of systemic racism, while others actively work towards dismantling these structures.

    The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) was established in response to persistent racial discrimination and inequality. While progress has been made in certain areas, it is clear that ongoing efforts are required to address deeply rooted issues and foster lasting change. The mindset shift observed in recent years suggests a greater willingness to engage in conversations about racism and a recognition of the importance of collective action to combat discrimination. Nevertheless, achieving true equality and eliminating racism remains an ongoing and complex process.

    What was your biggest achievement in 2023 and what are your goals for 2024?

    We are very proud to have celebrated 25 years of antiracism work by having organized the #MakeRacismHistory Festival in cities in 10 European countries! This flagship event has been a monumental event celebrating our anti-racist network's 25th anniversary. Taking place from 10-17 October, the first-ever pan-European anti-racism festival racially celebrated communities and brought together our communities across Europe to collectively reflect on a world where racism is a thing of the past. Through a series of events hosted by our network members across ten European countries, the festival featured discussions, roundtables, storytelling events, workshops, as well as celebrations of our past achievements.

    ENAR's goals for 2024 remain substantially the same: working to create a safer Europe where racialized individuals and communities can thrive and not only survive. We are still advocating for the end of racism structurally in the European Union and to build structures, institutions and attitudes based on race equality and equal distribution of power, privileges and rights.

    With regards to the 2024 European Elections, we wish to make racial justice a social priority for the candidates by making demands around specific areas related to the revival of the civic space in European democracies; placing the most marginalized at the core of climate and economic justice; seeking recognition of the historical roots of racism which goes hand in hand with addressing the current EU framework on migration policy and law enforcement structures that are rooted in the colonial pact; and promoting representation at the European level – among other topics.

    We also seek to keep on supporting our members who do an incredible day-to-day work and help amplify their voices. One of our strategic goals for 2024 is to establish an anti-racism Network that is dynamic, effective, well-resourced, safe, and resilient—a movement dedicated to promoting racial equality and justice in Europe!

    Which media do you recommend for neutral truthful reporting?

    I think it's important to keep in mind that complete neutrality does not exist, in any field. We are all subject to our own beliefs and biased by our social and political constructs. This is also true for journalists and news outlets perspective whoses are embedded in their own political perspectives. It is thus a good way of keeping informed to multiple information sources and look for media striving for balanced and factual reporting to get a more comprehensive understanding of events. Here are a few reliable ones:

          Reuters : known for its commitment to factual reporting without editorializing.

          Associated Press (AP) : A non-profit news organization that provides unbiased news coverage.

          NPR (National Public Radio) : A non-profit media organization in the United States that often provides in-depth and balanced reporting.

          Al Jazeera English : Offers a different perspective on global events and is often considered more neutral compared to its Arabic-language counterpart.

          The Guardian : while its news stories tend to align with left-leaning perspectives, the reporting consistently relies on verifiable facts supported by evidence. The Guardian maintains a generally positive reputation for journalism, making it a trusted source of news for many individuals in countries such as the UK and the US.

          DemocracyNow! : an independent, progressive news organization that produces a daily news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González (former activist, founding member of the New York branch of the Puerto Rican liberation movement The Young Lords) . The program covers a wide range of global and domestic issues, with a focus on social justice, human rights, and grassroots movements. Democracy Now! is known for its in-depth interviews, investigative journalism, and commitment to providing a platform for diverse voices.

          Media part: French online investigative journal founded by Edwy Plenel, a former editor of Le Monde. Launched in 2008, Mediapart is known for its investigative reporting and commitment to journalistic independence. It operates on a subscription-based model and covers a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, economics, and social issues, with a reputation for in-depth analysis and exposing corruption.

          Bondy Blog: a French news outlet that originated in the suburbs of Paris, specifically in the town of Bondy. It was created in the aftermath of the 2005 French riots to provide a platform for voices from marginalized communities. Bondy Blog focuses on issues related to social justice, diversity, and inclusion. It offers a perspective often not covered by mainstream media, aiming to amplify the voices of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

    Remember to critically evaluate news from any source and be aware of their potential biases. It's also helpful to diversify your sources to get a more comprehensive view of a given issue. Additionally, fact-checking websites like Snopes, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact can be valuable in verifying information.

    Find out what we're up to on Black Friday 2023 in our blog!

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