Statement on Racism in Europe and our Commitments to Action

Since the killing of U.S. citizen George Floyd on May 25th, the world has witnessed communities across the globe rising up against police brutality, with a call to end the global pandemic of racism. The SIETAR Europa Board of Directors has created space and time for the SIETAR community to listen, reflect, grieve, and be civically engaged. Today, we want the individuals, families, and communities affected by police violence and racism to know that we join them in their sadness, anger, and sense of urgency. As an organisaion, we are committed to being anti-racist and striving to become ever more inclusive in all that we do.

SIETAR Europa is committed to the dignity and worth of the human person and to the peaceful resolution of interpersonal, intergroup and international conflicts. Our purpose is to promote intercultural understanding in Europe and to serve as a forum for exchange for our members. We strongly condemn racism within our organisation, the intercultural field, and the larger European context, and are  committed to working towards the elimination of any kind of discrimination, especially when it includes violence.

We acknowledge that racism and the racialisation of specific communities is, and always has been, a powerful and very real measure of domination and exploitation within Europe. We recognise that structural and systemic racism are as deeply woven into the foundations of European societies as they are elsewhere. Since COVID-19, increased policing measures have led to a rise in police violence and racial profiling not only in the U.S, but elsewhere in the world and also Europe. Therefore, we also condemn police violence and the targeting of racialised communities in Europe, and their escalation since COVID-19. Moreover, we condemn the  continued mistreatment of migrants, displaced persons, and refugees on the borders of, and within Europe.

We have been inspired by the revitalised global dialogue on systemic and structural racism and the changes that are happening as a result. As an organisation, we commit to being a part of the efforts to dismantle those very structures so that we can build a society that is truly just and equal. We recognise that it must begin with an honest, humble, curious and open look at the unflattering reality of our own beliefs, assumptions, behaviours, and perspectives as individuals and as an organization.

SIETAR Europa recognises that our organisation’s origins are rooted in a dominant white culture that has benefitted from subtle racist structures and white privilege, with or without our awareness of it. Despite efforts that have been made over the years to check that privilege and be more inclusive, we continue to struggle to include more ethnically diverse educators, trainers, and researchers within our organisation.

To ensure that we are able to live our values and successfully achieve our mission, we commit to:

  1. Educate ourselves and our members on anti-racism, and its intersectionality with the intercultural field
  2. Increase our awareness of the impact of white normative culture within our organizational structure, policies and practices
  3. Create new alternatives to build a more inclusive and diverse organization
  4. Develop open and transparent volunteer recruitment processes at all levels of the organization
  5. Identify and take actions against all forms of discrimination within the organization

Towards our friends and allies outside of SIETAR, we commit to:

  1. Joining the anti-racist movement in Europe
  2. Supporting marginalised, discriminated, and racialised communities in Europe
  3. Support anti-racist organisations and movements led by those very communities within Europe

Over the coming weeks and months, we will develop and share more specific actions and measures of progress of our commitments.It is time to be uncomfortable, to listen, to show solidarity, and help tackle a system that we have benefitted from, consciously or unconsciously.

This is a difficult time in Europe, as it is around the world. And yet it is also a time of increased potential for real, sustainable and positive change. As part of the SIETAR Europa Board’s commitment to educate ourselves and our members on anti-racism, and its intersectionality with the intercultural field, we are launching a new series of anti-racism learning events.

This series begins with the panel discussion, “Anti-racism for Interculturalists” on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 6 pm CET, moderated by SIETAR Europa President, Tamara Thorpe.

Click here for more information and to register [link pending]

We invite and encourage SIEAR members who want to help drive this important work to reach out to your SIETAR Europa Board representative or to contact us directly with your ideas and contributions.

Thank you,

SIETAR Europa Board of Directors