Challenging racist clichés in Madrid districts

  • A network of ‘anti-rumour’ agents is devoted to responding to racist comments, which normally lead to discrimination against migrants.
  • ‘Challenging racist clichés’ is one of the experiences you will be able to learn about in Panel 7 on racism and xenophobia at the 2nd World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace, to be held in Matadero Madrid from 5 to 8 November this year.

Did you know that Madrid has a network of anti-rumour agents who argue against racist comments? Did you know that in numerous Madrid districts there are associations, neighbour communities and other entities that are part of this network whose aim is to raise awareness of the need to combat racism and xenophobia?

Maybe you did not know about this. Most probably you do know that prejudice and racist comments lead to discrimination against migrants and are detrimental to peaceful coexistence.

In Usera, Villaverde, Carabanchel, San Blas-Canillejas, Tetuán, Villa de Vallecas and Vicálvaro, ‘Desmontando tópicos racistas’ (Challenging racist clichés) is a project involving many people who believe in joining forces and raising awareness as a way to build friendlier, more peaceful relationships and put an end to the prejudices stirred up by unfounded racist notions.

At the secondary schools IES Marqués de Suanzes and Barrio Simancas, in San Blas-Canillejas, they are familiar with the project’s results. Both schools have joined the programme, becoming rumour-free spaces. Specifically, at IES Marqués de Suanzes, a survey was conducted among nearly 200 subjects to detect the most frequent racist attitudes and prejudices, and twelve students became genuine anti-rumour agents. They delivered talks, and organised sporting events and other activities where they worked hard to fight clichés in order to make life in school more harmonious.

Desmontando tópicos racistas’ was born in Madrid in 2016, based on the proposal by the Service for Coexistence among Districts. The project was originally carried out within the Area for Equality, Social Rights and Employment of the City of Madrid, and is run by La Rueca Asociación. One of the first teams to be established in the network was that from Villaverde, a district organising cultural events and workshops on a regular basis and producing interesting material.

In Usera, the Municipal Board implemented the Usera Anti-Rumour Strategy in 2017 as a mechanism to improve coexistence. The initiative is realised via a mediation programme developed by local social services.

What do anti-rumour agents do? As in other cities and towns such as Barcelona, Getxo or different locations in Andalusia, where they had established anti-rumour strategies before, in Madrid they are engaged in a variety of activities: They conduct workshops for groups and professionals; collect and disseminate stories told by people who have been discriminated against; run cultural events like the Cultures Against Racism Festival, which took place in December 2017; put on travelling exhibitions centred on counterarguments and showing items created in workshops; promote cliché-free and rumour-free spaces; organise creative labs; and produce documentaries, among other activities

‘Desmontando tópicos racistas’ is one of the many experiences you will learn about in the 2nd World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace, to be held in Matadero Madrid from 5 to 8 November. Registration for the event is now open. The experience will be presented by La Rueca in Panel 7, on racism and xenophobia.

One more time, Madrid is playing host to the world’s most relevant event on peace in cities. At the Forum, people will share experiences from all over the world. The Spanish capital is considered as a meeting place for local leaders, international organisations and networks, scholars, development NGOs, and the general public, who are interested in thinking about, discussing, and finding solutions for urban environments to eradicate racist attitudes and actions.