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No to Racism: Special #COVID-19 Edition of the Master Class

17/07/2020
03 - Good Health & Well Being
10 - Reduced Inequalities
11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Webinar 6 May 2020

The UNESCO Master Class Series aims to sensitize young people to the phenomena of racism in society, understand its origins and discuss concepts related to racism. It is a means of conveying fundamental knowledge on the construction of prejudice and sharing experiences through testimonies so that everyone can, at his or her own level, fight against racism and discrimination. Beyond raising awareness of racism and discrimination, the Master Class is also designed to collectively reflect on a list of commitments to be made by students so that they can then apply them in their own schools and within their networks.

In the context of the pandemic, UNESCO organized a first special edition of the "Master Class against Racism and Discrimination in the time of COVID-19" in the form of an international webinar for young secondary school students on 6 May 2020.

In cooperation with the International Institute for Human Rights and Peace (IDHP) in Caen, it brought together Carole Reynaud-Paligot, historian and sociologist, and Tania de Montaigne, journalist and committed writer. Moderated by Jonas Bochet, the Director of the IDHP, the webinar addressed issues related to racism and discrimination and answered students' questions.  

By providing clear definitions and concrete examples, the intervention of the experts on the issue enabled young people to become aware of the complexity of racist phenomena in society. Tania de Montaigne insisted on the prejudices linked to racism and showed the students how these prejudices were constructed and how to deconstruct them.

Carole Reynaud-Paligot showed that, although climates of crisis would favour the resurgence of racist acts and statements, this phenomenon is not obvious and also depends on media and political treatment. The issue of social networks was addressed as a tool that can be used by and for young people to fight against all forms of online discrimination.

This edition was enriching for the students who were able to share different points of view and acquire new knowledge with the speakers. It was also a moment of awareness on the issues of racism. One student was able to testify: "Discrimination and racism are part of our lives every day, it’s inevitable, but we can help to change this situation". In addition, the objective was also for them to formulate concrete actions to fight racism and discrimination individually or collectively, such as "avoiding small details, such as differentiating sports according to skin colour".

The session brought together about 130 students and observers from Côte d'Ivoire, Spain, France, Laos, Mali, Nigeria, Philippines, Switzerland and Tunisia. It ended with a virtual presentation of a certificate of participation to encourage the young students to pursue their commitments and the handing over of a practical guide whose content is directly derived from the travelling exhibition "Us and Them: from Prejudice to Racism" at the Musée de l'Homme.

In the current context of COVID-19, UNESCO launched a series of international webinars in collaboration with the cities of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities - ICCAR, to highlight the social dimension of this crisis and the measures taken at national and local levels to fight racism and discrimination. This Master Class was inspired by the Master Class developed by UNESCO in partnership with the Musée de l'Homme in November 2019.

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