European-wide Action Week Against Racism (EAWAR) is observed from March 16 to March 24 every year. During this time, Europeans are encouraged to combat racism and discrimination, whether from racial slurs and targeted bullying to sharing memes and content stereotyping people based on their ethnicity. The holiday is a chance to prevent and respond to discrimination, educate others on the adverse effects of racism, and share solutions on the best way to deal with incidents of racial prejudice. EAWAR is part of the ‘No Hate Speech Movement,’ a youth campaign mobilizing young people to promote human rights and end hate speech online.
History of European-wide Action Week Against Racism
In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly established March 21 as the date for the European-wide Action Week Against Racism. The U.N. made this decision six years after the events of the Sharpeville Massacre when over 60 people were brutally killed and more than 200 wounded by police while protesting against apartheid. The apartheid regime in South Africa was a state-enforced system of racial segregation and inequality that disproportionately benefited white South Africans.
During European-wide Action Week Against Racism, the U.N. and its affiliate bodies call on NGOs, schools, community organizations, town councils, and all social groups in Europe to unite and fight against racism. The anti-racist group UNITED for Intercultural Action helps coordinate these events in 48 European countries. Since the early 1990s, the group has worked as Europe’s network against fascism, racism, discrimination, and restrictive migration and asylum policies.
UNITED’s network of more than 500 organizations supports migrants and refugees experiencing intolerance and prejudice in Europe. Every year during European-wide Action Week Against Racism, their network of thousands of volunteers engage in activities such as intercultural festivals, lectures, film screenings, conferences, putting up educational posters, and presenting reports on racial discrimination. Events are interactive and accessible. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the campaign by liaising with the organization online. UNITED mobilizes thousands of Europeans to stand hand in hand against xenophobia and racism by organizing activities, spreading the message, and supporting others.
European-wide Action Week Against Racism timeline
Following the murder of 69 protesters at Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960, the U.N. rolls out the European Action Week Against Racism.
The European Network Against Racism is founded.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance statute is set up by the first Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe.
UNESCO launches the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism.
European-wide Action Week Against Racism FAQs
What is racism?
Racism is the belief that certain ethnic groups possess certain behavioral traits and that these ethnic groups are divided based on the superiority of one race over another.
How can we stop racism?
We can stop racism by acknowledging that it exists, educating ourselves and others about its causes, and changing laws or policies that are racist.
Does racism affect mental health?
People subjected to racism often suffer from chronic stress, low self-esteem, and depression.
How to Observe European-wide Action Week Against Racism
Say no to racism
Don’t tolerate jokes, derogatory remarks, or prejudicial treatment based on ethnicity. Call it out and make it clear that it's unacceptable. Many racists are emboldened by the fact that most people just ignore them.
Educate and inform
Racism often comes from a place of ignorance. Educate yourself and others on ethnic and cultural differences. Understand that being different doesn’t mean being inferior.
Understand systemic racism
It’s not enough to know that racism exists. Understanding how it works systemically takes you to the core of the issue rather than the fringes, which only show you the symptom of the disease and not the cause.
5 Hard Facts About Racial Discrimination
The unfair healthcare policies
Black women are three to four times more likely to experience pregnancy-related deaths than white women, even when they have similar income and education levels.
A skewed justice system
African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested, convicted, and experience lengthier sentences.
There is racism in school
One in four people reports experiencing racial discrimination in school each year.
There are prejudicial employment practices
A study by Harvard University found that when people of color used ‘white-sounding’ names, they received more callbacks on job applications.
The race and gender wage gap
Black workers have historically earned less than white workers.
Why European-wide Action Week Against Racism is Important
Promoting human rights
All humans are equal, and none should feel inferior or superior to others, nor should they be treated differently because of their culture or ethnicity. Fighting racism promotes human rights.
Combat hate speech
Hate speech undermines democratic values, belittles others, and contributes to social instability. Silence is the same as tolerance, so everyone must speak out against hate speech in all its forms.
Diversity is a good thing. It gives us different perspectives and life experiences to learn from. It makes societies more creative and inclusive.
European-wide Action Week Against Racism dates