How can we learn to respect others more?
Germany in the summer of 2015. Pegida demonstrations, xenophobic slogans, attacks on refugee shelters. Racism in Germany is back with us again and, unfortunately, has meant more than just combat boots, skinheads, and cries of "foreigners out!" for some time. Today racism means: We are normal, all others are alien. Luckily by no means all people think this way; especially not Generation25, such as Andreas, for example.
Andreas, 30 years old and a learned political scientist, established "Show Racism the Red Card" a few years ago. This is an initiative providing school classes, young people from youth clubs, and young fans between ages 9 and 19 across Germany with the opportunity to actively get to grips with the issues of racism and exclusion in workshops and at soccer stadia.
Since 2010, the "Show Racism the Red Card" initiative has worked with children, young people, and young adults at more than 300 German educational events in order to throw light on racism, antiziganism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of inhuman thought processes through political education work. Soccer, being a team sport, serves as a medium in this regard to reinforce and encourage fundamental democratic values in the crucial formative years of childhood and adolescence. In England, where the project started with just two people in 1996, up to 50,000 children are now reached per year. This is cause for optimism.
"Show Racism the Red Card" and the associated #Deutschland25 discussion demonstrate that Andreas and his committed colleagues are not alone. The commentary from the Generation25 speaks out very clearly against racism and for respectful co-existence.
For example, the response from Daria, 14, is: "By dealing with other people without prejudice and being open to other cultures."
Representative of the Generation25 is the comment from Niels, 17: "Fighting racism begins when you are brought up. Parents point down the path in which racism is avoided."
And Carlos, 20, writes: "Mistrust and prejudice must be dismantled. Other cultures and people are an enrichment for us all."
Find similarities instead of differences. Create a multicultural working environment. Experience diversity instead of homogeneity. Promote cross-cultural exchange. These are all approaches already being practiced in German society, and it is vital they are built upon. Generation25 has grown up into a multicultural world and knows all too well how the "us-and-them" boundaries in the mind are to be overcome.
"I have observed that if there is something that connects us, it makes it much easier to accept the other person how he is. Find that thing!". (Johannes, 26)
"Hate and racism can only arise if one doesn't approach the other. The feeling of connectedness breaks down all barriers." (Mo, 27)
The response from Carsten, 36 may make you smile, but also provides a very important insight: "Don't always consider yourself a model for others: When in doubt, I am an even bigger idiot than the next person."
For a few years now there have been technologies that are able to support anti-racism initiatives extensively and facilitate communication. "Today," says Andreas, "we have the advantage of being able to work locally. We can share our data via clouds and discuss tasks, problems, and ideas, as well as find new fellow campaigners in the fight against racism."
New technologies therefore can and must assume an important role in the fight against racism. You can reach many, and do a lot with many. Let's hope Generation25 use it to tap in to the whole of Germany.