Embracing the colors – press release

The Roma (a general name attributed to Rom, Sinti, Lom or Dom) community is the largest ethnic minority in the EU (approx. 11mil). Present in all 27 EU states, the Roma community is the most disadvantaged group in Europe, being victims of racism and discrimination, racial violence, discrimination in the health and educational system, labour market etc. and is socially, economically and politically vulnerable (ECRI). In general, we witness a negative portrayal of the Roma community in the media and on social networks, which contributes to the perpetuation and reinforcement of prejudices, stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes that directly affect young Roma. The young Roma people’s challenges are many and the high level of discrimination causes a deep impact upon their self-esteem and self-trust, leading to further stigmatization and exclusion.

Europe is facing a surge of populism and radicalization of young people, so that more and more young people are publicly positioning themselves against immigrants, often Roma, rejecting cultural and / or ethnic diversity, and amidst the lack of mass-endorsed information media, in school textbooks or other educational sources on Roma history and the events in Europe that transformed the Roma community into one of the poorest and marginalized ethnic minorities or on the culture and life of young Roma, the phenomenon of “anti-gypsyism” becomes stronger in EU member countries and beyond EU.

The media paints the image of the scapegoat, perpetuating and consolidating stereotypes and fake news to the detriment of the Roma community. They are the subject of defamatory media and populist campaigns, with far-right parties having a frontal role in disseminating negative messages and conditioning public perception (the phenomenon of “negative branding”, which exploits the fear of a particular group). More and more young people are publicly opposing immigrants, often Roma, and rejecting cultural and ethnic diversity. Given the lack of information in the media, textbooks or other educational sources on the culture and life of young Roma, Roma history and events in Europe who have transformed the Roma community into one of the poorest and most marginalized ethnic minorities, the phenomenon of “anti-gypsyism” is growing stronger in EU member states and beyond.

Europe needs more projects in which young people learn about the Roma and then join forces to fight against the “antigypsyism” and to improve the perception of the Roma community by the society they live in.

EMBRACING THE COLORS is an initiative of Active Development Association from Romania, who, together with other 9 organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine, have decided to actively get involved in promoting the human rights and to fight against discrimination of Roma young people. Also, we want to increase the degree of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and openness to the Roma community of young people and to develop social responsibility and the civic attitudes among them.

The project’s main activity is a youth exchange with participants from Partner countries to be held in Slanic Moldova, Romania, between 19th of February and 1st of March 2020, with the participation of 44 young people with the age between 16 and 30 years old and 11 group leaders with the age above 18 years old, from 10 different countries: Romania, Malta, Moldova, Bulgaria, Spain, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

EMBRACING THE COLORS is a carefully planned social inclusion project, which aims to contribute to the personal, professional and social development of 44 young participants, of which 23 with fewer opportunities (including 5 Roma young people) by developing a safe environment aiming to facilitate the involvement of all young participants in all project’s phases.

Before the mobility, the young people with analyse and collect the challenges the young Roma people are facing in each local community, but also national tools and strategies for the social inclusion of Roma people.

During the youth exchange we will organize: teambuilding sessions; working sessions aiming to develop the young people understanding about inclusion and exclusion; informing and sharing sessions about the Roma people’s culture, history and challenges; a street debate in Onesti (Main topic: When did you fought last time for human rights?); an intercultural and study visit in a Roma community, where the young participants in the youth exchange will interact with the Roma community and they collect different stories which they will further tell through community journalism, media advocacy and forum theatre; specific sessions for the preparation of the 3 forum theatre roll plays; one forum theatre event in Onesti; training session in the field of media and social media campaigns; creative working sessions where the young participants will develop media content for their campaigns; intercultural evenings; sharing, reflection and evaluation sessions.

After the mobility, they will organize different follow up and dissemination activities aimed to promote solidarity and fight discrimination towards the Roma community.

The project Embracing the colors was funded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ Programme.

For more information you can contact us on email: dezvoltare.activa@gmail.com, Contact person: Victor Cătălin Toma

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