June 2011 - International Year of People of African Descent


Welcome to this special edition of ENAR’s new webzine dedicated to the 2011 International Year for People of African Descent! This issue gives an overview of what this Year is about, and presents different perspectives on the specific situation and history of people of African descent, as well as several best practices of empowerment of Black people in Europe. If you want to read the webzine in pdf format, download it here

2011 International Year for People of African Descent: An overview

Over 200 million people who identify themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. In proclaiming 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent, the United Nations General Assembly is recognising that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be further promoted and protected. The International Year for People of African descent presents us with an opportunity to highlight the continuing challenges facing people of African descent, especially those stemming from racism and racial discrimination, as well as recognize and celebrate the many contributions that Afro-descendents have made to the societies in which they live and beyond.

A ‘World Tour’ of perspectives on people of African descent

This ‘world tour’ offers perspectives on people of African descent in different regions of the world. Arthur Robinson Diakité provides some basic facts about the African American diaspora in Sweden, while Instituto Raizes gives some insights into the experience of people of African descent in Brazil. Finally, we feature a video on the culture of the Kaffirs of Sri Lanka, who arrived from the eastern shores of Africa in the 1500s with the Portuguese, and later in more waves with the different colonizers of Sri Lanka.

The origins and current manifestations of anti-black racism

It is often assumed that racism is an intrinsic part of human nature: fear and ignorance lead us to dislike ‘Others’ - anyone we don’t know or don’t know well. The work of Claude Lévi-Strauss in particular shows that ethno-centrism is universal. Nevertheless, ethno-centrism should not be confused with the racism of today: the latter is based on different mechanisms, in that it does not completely prohibit ‘others’ from entering the group. The theory of racism is fuelled by an ideology in which very precisely defined ‘worlds’ are in opposition and whose borders are closed.

‘La Fraternité’: The Brotherhood Boat

“If you can’t go to History, History will come to you”

The Brotherhood Boat® (Bateau Pédagogique®) is a touring cultural platform which will help to break the silence around the slave trade so that, in learning about the past, younger generations will be better able to understand the present and have greater awareness as they plan for their future. The project comprises three main educational elements: the Brotherhood Boat, accompanied by the Brotherhood Village and moving towards the Brotherhood Journey.

African and migrant women transforming Ireland

Salome outlines the work of AkiDwA and her own analysis of African women to highlight the contribution that African and migrant women are making in Ireland despite the challenges that they face.

Operation Black Vote and Black politics in Britain

This Year we are celebrating Operation Black Vote’s 15th anniversary. It seems a long time ago now when a small group of individuals started a project that would literally change the way that the political establishment engaged with the UK’s Black population: Africans, Asians, Caribbeans and other minority ethnic communities.

The May Ayim Award and digital best practice projects

AFROTAK TV cyberNomads, the Black German Social Media, Culture and Education Network, was set up in 2001 to document the exchange of socio-cultural communities of the black German diaspora reaching out to global transatlantic networks. The single event of AFROTAK TV cyberNomads generating the most visible impact is the May Ayim Award - the first Pan African Literature Award.

Two Black local council representatives debate their experiences

Peter Bossman and Wouter Van Bellingen debate their experiences and perspectives as Black city council representatives in South-Eastern (Piran, Slovenia) and North-Western Europe (Sint-Niklaas, Belgium), also reflecting on the situation of Black communities in their respective countries.

Educational material for elementary schools in the Netherlands focuses on people of African descent

E-Quality, the Netherlands’ information and research centre for gender, family and diversity issues, and NiNsee, the centre for the promotion of research and distribution of knowledge and information regarding the Dutch slavery past and its consequences for contemporary society, have developed educational material for teachers of elementary schools and their pupils age 10-12 years old.