#StopRacism: Barcelona’s anti-racism campaign in midst of #Covid19

27/03/2020

Various actions of mutual support and solidarity towards the most vulnerable populations have emerged during the situation generated by #Covid19, including those who are infected, the medical and health care personnel, food and services staff, and the elderly, the homeless and the poor. Simultaneously, the pandemic has fuelled racist and xenophobic acts everywhere, including online hate speech and stigmatization, mainly targeting specific populations who are, or are perceived to be, of Asian descent.

To sensitize its citizens, the City of Barcelona (Spain), member of UNESCO's European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR)  and UNESCO's International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #StopRacism (#StopRacisme in Catalan) on 21 March 2020, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The campaign highlights six activists who, in the context of the #Covid19 crisis, shared their views on how racism and xenophobia have escalated : the Coordinator of the Association of Diverse Migrant Women Carmen Juares, cultural manager Ma Kexing, actress Sílvia Albert, Roma rights activist and feminist Paqui Perona, data analyst Míriam Hatibi, and the journalist and cultural producer Tània Adam.

Silvia Albert calls for solidarity to “(t)hose who are the most precarious, those who do not count, the victims of trafficking, those who make braids on the beach, those who sell bracelets or those who survive by cooking for street vendors… Today, it is our responsibility to think about the excluded of the excluded, and that these thoughts become actions.”

Fighting racism is “not just about denouncing concrete and individual situations… it is not a sum of anecdotes”, says Míriam Hatibi, adding that concrete structures and initiatives must be put into place in order to foster anti-racist cities.

As one of the most active members of ICCAR, Barcelona has been at the forefront of anti-racism initiatives, regularly launching awareness-raising activities in cooperation with civil society. The City is supporting a web-based platform developed by local NGOs called “Emergencia Contra El Racismo” (Emergency against Racism) which allows the public to report racist and discriminatory acts online. This tool provides guidelines on how to take action if one is faced with, or is witness to, an act of discrimination or neglect.

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UNESCO's International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, launched in 2004, is a city-level platform that undertakes a wide range of initiatives – from policymaking, capacity-building to awareness-raising activities. It advocates for global solidarity and collaboration to promote inclusive urban development free from all forms of discrimination.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout the article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.