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We need to talk about everyday racism
in Europe

AlexanderIO ©, 2021

A US jury finding Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges in the death of George Floyd shines new light on issues of race and human rights.

Without doubt the impact will be felt at this year’s Fundamental Rights Forum. It is the platform to shape Europe’s debate on the most pressing human rights issues of today.

Michael McEachrane, a visiting researcher at Sweden's Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights, is looking forward to joining others passionate for positive change at the hybrid event on 11-12 October.

The Forum is your opportunity to help turn action on the streets into concrete policy and a change in attitudes across society.

He says: “I never thought I would see the day where mass demonstrations would have an impact on policymaking as last year’s demonstrations against racism did.

“I may have been slightly cynical…but I would have thought that it is quite romantic to think that demonstrations will translate into policies and substantial social change.

“But this time it was the most massive demonstrations in human history and it has had a tremendous impact on public discourse and awareness raising, and not least on policymaking.

“We have seen this at the European Union level. The EU launched its Anti-racism action plan as a direct result of these demonstrations and the European Parliament responded to them with a powerful resolution.

“Its language was very strong, mentioning structural racism eleven times and people of African descent fifty-two times.”

McEachrane, believes there is still much to do. The Black Lives Matter movement should continue to be a catalyst for change—particularly how we all talk about race.

He explains: “In Sweden, Black Lives Matter protests have helped shift the discourse. Making it more mainstream and accepted to speak about racism.

“In Sweden, gender inequities are a mainstream concern—and should be. But there was and still is reluctance to see racism as a social problem. Race is a more charged issue.

“Now the discourse seems to have shifted slightly towards recognising racism as the everyday occurrence it is in employment, housing and education – who gets heard, who gets promoted and who does not, who falls in love with who, who is seen as belonging to the country and so on.

“It is the everyday aspects of racism that matter the most to our lives. Not the extreme expressions such as hate crime, hate speech and Nazism. The EU is yet to fully recognise, not to mention, address this.”

McEachrane concludes: “I would like to see human rights issues of racism mainstreamed to a larger extent…European nations need to comprehensively recognised and address it in all areas of society.”

Fighting hate and discrimination is one of the key themes at #RightsForum21.
If you have an idea for hosting a session to help drive the conversation forward, we want to hear from you.


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