Master Class against racism for high school students from Karlsruhe, Liège and Nancy

Nancy – France

In the context of UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences Programme and on the occasion of the International Day of Peace, our member city and city of our vice-president Patricia Daguerre-Jacque, Nancy, organised a Master Class entitled "Racism and Discrimination out of the Public Square" at the City Hall on 21 September 2021, .

In her opening speech, Patricia Daguerre-Jacque, deputy delegate for equality between women and men, the fight against discrimination and human rights in Nancy, expressed the city's firm commitment to the fight against racism and is developing actions in this direction. The city's role as vice-president of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) underlines this commitment.

Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, gave the inaugural speech, stating that: "Racism is often hidden behind everyday attitudes, narratives, prejudices or assumptions that we unconsciously perpetuate. However, racism is not just in the mind. It places concrete obstacles in the path of many people every day."

High school students from Nancy and its twin cities, Liège (Belgium) and Karlsruhe (Germany), looked at concrete solutions to implement in their schools and daily lives. All three cities are active members of ECCAR.

Evelyne Heyer, Professor of Genetic Anthropology at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, explained to the students that the notion of "race" is not biologically or genetically justified. As a source of watertight social categories to which a moral or ideological value is attributed, often at the foundation of discriminatory thinking, it is in fact more problematic than anything else. "Thoughts are like viruses ... they spread!" - she states.

Students from the Lycée Jeanne d'Arc will work towards publishing videos raising awareness on racism on their school's YouTube channel. Others will learn about the subjective aspect of statistics, which are generally considered to be objective facts, but which are in fact products of social environments, always biased, and often racist.

Catherine Devaux from Amnesty International, raised awareness among the students about strategies and priorities. She presented them with various examples of activism in order to inspire their commitment in the future.

The Master Class series, launched in 2019 by UNESCO, enables young high school students to learn and understand the causes of racism and discrimination in a dynamic and interactive way. Students learn to identify racist and discriminatory practices, behaviours and/or discourses in their immediate context, with the aim of becoming agents of change in their communities, schools and families. The series is part of the Roadmap against Racism that UNESCO is currently developing.

Please find below for download a practical guide on "deconstructing racism and discrimination" for secondary school students with an editorial by the Mayor of Nancy, Mathieu Klein.