The racist murder of George Floyd and the protests across the globe demonstrate the urgency of fighting systemic racism. Municipalities and mayors bear the responsibility of caring for the wellbeing of the people living in their communities – regardless of their gender, religion, nationality, or race. Therefore, it is essential that they stand up to racism and take efficient action. The upcoming webinar aims to close the gap between the willingness to change the current conditions and the expertise on how this can be achieved.
Benedetto Zacchiroli showcased tangible measures on how municipalities can tackle racism in their specific local context. Zacchiroli is the President of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR), which advocates for local action to fight racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
Here are some of his key messages to local leaders:
- The issue of equality of all citizens pertains to all dimensions of community life, e.g. security, housing, culture, school, work or public transport
- Tangible public action needs to challenge all acts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia
- Personal leadership plays a crucial role. Mayors have to advocate for an inclusive community, offering a credible sense of togetherness
- All the different groups represented in your municipality must be listened to carefully
- An open and inclusive society depends upon education. Public administrations have to support schools but also create informal learning opportunities as life-long learning is required to tackle systemic racism
He also showcased three Best Practices:
- The Intercultural Center in Heidelberg offers virtual concerts with antiracist messages to enable people to imagine a better society
- Barcelona has an office to which citizens can report acts of racism and discrimination. Through the ability to report to the municipality, people feel valued and safe, knowing that they are being defended by the community
- Religious and political leaders in Bologna celebrate Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast at the end of Ramadan) on a public street with a very long table. Over the years, more and more people have started to join them, enjoying the ability to live the idea of an inclusive society