To «Internationalism » from « All Different. All Equal »; a Permanent implication.

 Report of 25t Group of NEUROMEDIA, in charge of questions concerning. xenophobia for 1995

Page d'Accueil/Homepage. English Page. Page Française. Working Papers. Les Travaux. 

On 1995, when the Council of Europe has presented its Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance, we were probably among firsts to invest us. It seemed us evident that NEURONEDM, international association, was highly concerned.

We must distinguish racism and nationalism, because if few peoples are nationalists (they do not accept « not national » in their country, it is the principle of autarky) there are more racists (they do not accept these that have a visible difference, particularly skin, with them). At NEUROMF‑DIA, we can say that we are « internationalist » but not ail of us are « not racist ».

From the beginning of the campaign, 1 have proposed to the board of directors of international branch of NEUROMIEDIA (called NEUROMIEDIA INTERNATIONAL) to form a 25th  new group, concerning xenophobia questions in general, and to place it under the direction of Miss Carolyne Hunter, American South African, then first assessor at the council of jurisdiction. Discussion and consultation of members took several months, not only at international branch, but also in some local branches that refused to open such group (international branch cannot oblige them). Finally many people, and even people who are member in racist movements, have enrolled in these groups (opened in 90% of branches), and it has received memberships as numerous as those for « Europe » group preparing the debate concerning Intergovernmental Conference for the Revision of the Treaty on the European Union. Debate has been very large and it will continue. It has not been and will not be easy, because we have had to deal with problems which are sometimes very difficult.

Personality of Miss Hunter in international group, has allowed a constructive debate. Indeed, Miss Hunter, medical student is born on 1975 in France, by a black South African mother and a white American father. Encounter of their parents has taken place in South African Republic, while the law of 1949 «Prohibition of mixed marriages act » forbidding marriages between member of different ethnic groups, even pronounced abroad, (which was problem for « residents in mixed marriage ») and « Immorality Act » of 1957 forbidding sexual relationships between people from different race by making a crime (same remark) were always in force until to 1985. Carolyne Hunter tells us continuation of her story «My parents were in serious irregularity with law. I admire them a lot for the courage and the determination that they have had. My father wanted to come back to the United States of the America to marry my mother, to legitimate me, and to continue here his professional life, but different circumstances, professional and administrative have prevented him to come back to his country, it is then my paternal uncle who allowed us to come to France. I am today American, South African and French citizen. If my parents have legitimated me from 1975 in France and in the United States America, by the marriage, I have had to wait to be approximately 12 years old to be legitimate daughter in South African Republic and especially to see what looks like one of my homelands. Indeed, even if I am not French « by blood », I am so grateful to this country to have welcomed me to feel me fully French ». It's the reason why Miss Hunter was very indicated to direct this group within our organization because she knows obviously racist problems. «It's on 5 years old, when I1 have been confronted with others children that I have understood that I was different from the others. If I spoke French already well, I began to speak English. I knew that 1 was in France but that I had American father and American last name. But my parents taught me also a second language, of the South African Republic, Afrikaans, and, obviously, nobody knew it. Moreover, if I had believed that all white men had black wives, I have quickly understood that I was an exception, and anyway my little school fiends, innocently, or repeating what they had heard at their home, have undertaken to make me it understand. I have suffered despite explanations of my parents. I have felt badly in my skin until my ten years and paradoxically, it is at my puberty that whole has begun to become better and better. I was very proud to have three different nationalities, to speak fluently three languages and especially to be one of the most beautiful girl. In fact, today, I would not want to be different what I am. I believe to be very well accepted. My condition is a little particular. I understand other half-caste could live more badly that me their situation. My story is not very common. »

Now specified situation of Miss Hunter, we understand better in what her participation has been basis of success of our debate.

We have begun to talk about problems of dual nationality, and the word « problem » is superfluous, Regrettable initiative was «Convention of Strasbourg » which solved problems of dual nationality in Europe by suppressing one of them.

Master Carole Alexandra Ford, executive president of NEUROMEDIA INTERNATIONAL, is example of the success of a sort of dual nationality « well lived ».«I am Canadian citizen, and God knows that this country is a big «confrontation zone » between French origin culture and English American one. My father is English speaking; his name is Alexander (Alek) Ford. My mother, Caroline (Caro), is French speaking. As me, they master perfectly English and French, but to allow me to be comfortable from side to side, they have called me Carole‑Alexandra, French first name, because last name of my father was English. In fact, English called me « Alek » for « Alexandra » and the French « Caro » for « Carole ». It is American influence nicknames. But I have never truly felt serious problems concerning this sort of « opposite belonging ». In contrary, I have the luck to speak two of the most important languages in the world. »

Sandra Hälberg Declaire, French Swedish, 2nd executive president of NEUROMEDIA INTERNATIONAL and president of NEUROMEDIA SCANDINAVIA, affirms that her parents have given her the first‑name of « Sandra » because it can « be worn everywhere ».

We see that parents have a responsibility in integration of their child in one and the other culture of which they are stemming. This task is essential and they strive in Senegal well to insure it.

Question was other concerning the racism.

First crisis that we have to cross is due, paradoxically, to the campaign « All Different. All Equal » (of the Council of Europe). It bas distributed, besides, with restriction, picture of a white woman and a black man naked, at back view, going to bath together. Several members have slammed the door of 25th group and of the organization. They have judged this advertisement was « so provocative » and have not wanted to support this campaign by their participation. Indeed, some have understood that it concerned to show the morphological difference absence between blacks and whites. However, it would have been desirable to privilege similar picture, the white woman wearing a black bathing suit and the black man wearing a white one. That would have been in the spirit of badge of the campaign, and all as evocative, so much evocative that some members were not always satisfied of our position on this advertisement. But they agree all on the point that campaign of MTV is always remained in an extremely good line. To run different races, women and men, in front of X rays to show that they have all the same skull (cranium), was particularly appreciated by our members to allow promotion of anti‑racism and anti‑sexism.

And this was well the second problem of our debates, because no media has really imagined that love relationships between white woman and black man were not the only one, and that they could also exist in the other way (a black woman and a white man). According to members, it is by unaware sexism or/and desire not to underline « colonialist idea » (Black slave woman and white colonizer man), that we have preferred always to make a display of the instituted idea «white woman and black man » (« Original Seed » of the Australian music band INXS which is lead by Michael Huntchence). But, these ideas are « ghosts » of a definitively bygone age. There, again, campaign of MTV was more objective, since, realized a reporting on new situation of relationships between black and white in South African Republic, the channel has taken care to illustrate the two cases.

Miss Hunter underlines it «my parents do not correspond to the idea that all media have defended and continued to defend. I think that I am not truly the one and only girl to have a black mother and a white father. This kind of exclusive relationship idea between a white woman and a black man, has, in my opinion, a perverse effect in the collective subconscious. » Indeed, a celebrity of the musical world as David Bowie is married with a black top model.

How are these relationships? Not well accepted and more often refused. From side to side, opinion is divided. It is not sure that blacks, women or men, are desirous to live a love story with whites. It is, at least, what emerges from debates that have of course included blacks, especially in local branches. This phenomenon exists of course for whites. But if we accept better « inter racial relationships » consciences are not totally opened. We can tolerate that at others, but when a daughter or a son announces to her/his parents that she/he has a fiancé(e) from a different colour, reaction can be a bit perhaps, radically different.

Jorgensen Lagerlof is Swedish, blond, and married since approximately two years to a black American, Kimberly Starksen. «I knew what 1 made to marry Kimberly. Her parents were against, mine were very reticent, and, the look of others, often reproachful, is sometimes very difficult to support. I would dissuade whoever to contract a «mixed marriage » without thinking to what she/he is engaged/committed. I love enough Kimberly to support that, but I am not sure that everyone is able to support it. That is not even to think about that for white political woman/man, here, in America, to less to will break her/his career; and 1 believe that is true in other countries. »

Situation is not so bad. It changes a lot from one country to the other, from one person to the other. If it depends on racists, that they are black or white, criteria that condition improvement are multiple.

First, we find equality of sexes. Obviously, Miss Hunter underlines this point, because even in Occident it remains to make. Miss Hunter precise that women conceive men, and they have an essential task in continuity of mankind. Their major importance necessitates at least, that they obtain equality or more. Besides, this question puts the problem of the justice decision Kalank (October 1995) of the European Court of Justice that has forbidden discriminatory measures to favoured women at equality of training against men. Concerning this question opinions are divided within 25th group. It seems nevertheless that to allow « positive discriminatory measures » docs not correspond to the Treaty on the European Union and is the possibility of abuse. The « Law » group directed by Miss Valerie d'Armagnac thinks that this justice decision is good, as the « European » group directed by Mr. Franck Dawson.

First of all, it is problem of polygamy that does not seem truly to correspond to equality between women and men. Islam seems to recommend increasingly the monogamy.

But a second problem, more serious appears. While circumcision seems posed no problem (1) this is not the case of excision and infibulations (2) of young girls, which are condemned by WHO ( World Health Organization) and practiced not only (particularly) in Africa but also by immigrants out of Africa. In France, penal jurisdiction bas first sanctioned these practices as a misdemeanours ( «voluntary assault: and battery ») and penal judges (following the qualification of WHO of « mutilations ») declaring their incompetence, such cases have been carried in Assize Court (with jury) and qualified, therefore, crimes. While France has not specific legislation on the subject (Parliament has debated a punishment of 20 years of prison, but the penal code reforming has changed nothing), it is one of the rare countries to sanction these practices, to the difference of Sweden, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. Problem is therefore complex. For many of our members, these practices are not bearable, because we do not see, to cut the clitoris of a young girl (excision), that has an important role in sensation of sexual pleasure of female, can be justified by other thing that the tradition. According to Miss Hunter «Childbirth isn't always for a woman «a moment of pure pleasure » even if happiness is nevertheless present. It does not seem to be very judicious to make the sexual intercourse a moment where the pleasure does not exist, by removal (ablation) of clitoris (excision), or even a moment of «pure sorrow » by infibulations more or less well suitable (WHO is opposed to the provision of medical care of excisions and infibulations). This is not neither agreeable for the woman, that does not feel anything than suffer, nor for the man, that gives no pleasure to his partner, and even sorrow. Moreover, we practice, very rarely, infibulations on men that have to be not circumcise.».

To maintain this kind of practices, besides the fact to be sexist, does not encourage the racism?

Finally, it will be debated the problem of «allowed rapes » during « fêtes » which take place, in Oceania, only. These problems concerning more sexology, they are mainly debated in the group, which deals with these questions directed by the sociologist citizen of Papua New Guinea and of the United Kingdom, Miss the Doctor Carolyne Argoz.

Finally, we must underline that best economic conditions would favour tolerance. This point is today obvious.

Finally, many more complex problems have been debated. Particularly concerning discrimination of transsexuals, homosexuals and HIV+ (without will to make amalgam). Today the European Court of Human Rights of Strasbourg seems fixed on transsexual. It condemns discrimination on the basis of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Make the wage that this position can spread to homosexuals and to HIV+ (see Laurent Faure and Dr. Brian Mikaellich. (On European Convention of Human Rights and Discrimination HIV+ ».). But a decision of justice remains a decision of justice, and homosexuality as HIV+ and transsexual are more or less well admitted. We can always; at least, for HIV+ and homosexuality, to conceal her/his own situation, but HIV+ and heterosexuals do they conceal their situation? If we can be tolerant for people being in these conditions, circumstances are often different when we are concerned in our family. These problems are appreciably different with these aforementioned because, if colour or nationality is a «fact » we have been able to observe that some consider that there is here a «acquired state ». But love for a people who is not from her/his race is also an « acquire state » and not under our control. We think therefore that there exists a close problem; even if this opinion can be badly perceived.

Eventually, as requested by Carolyne Hunter, I have wanted to show here state of situation, result of one year of discussion within our organization, as much objective as possible. Even in an international organization, all difference is not always well accepted. Our ambition is that each is a little bit more tolerant with others, because our organization is large enough to count many different ethnic groups. We wish also that sexes, condition, behaviour (in the limit of protection of «minimum public order»), were also subject of tolerance. Our process, that we can qualify « internal » is with «general interest » because the method that we experiment will be able to serve beyond the one branches of NEUROMEDIA that have well wanted to debate the problem, in Europe, but also everywhere in the world.

After having expressed ideas of the organization on all these questions I would like to give my personal feeling. If I share some opinions of my organization, I reprove some others. It is not my task to tell which, but simply to try to become more tolerant because we are never enough tolerant. This is not always easy, we know it. However, I am sure that difference is a wealth. I am member in an international organization I am « internationalist », but to the difference of a lot of my colleagues 1 am only French and 1 do not speak foreign languages as well as all these of us that have the chance to live since their birth between two perhaps three or four cultures. We can sometimes wonder if in a world where the interdependence is increasingly strong, or the solitude is paradoxically, sometimes very great, these who are racist, are they not simply sometimes, by simple jealousy?


(1). Circumcision does not put problems because it would facilitate measures of hygiene, and would reduce risks of cancer of the collar of the uterus of the regular partner of a man in this case.

 (2). Infibulations consists of the installation of a ring (or an other object) through the great lips of the sex of the woman and the foreskin of the sex of the man (necessity not to be circumcise) to avoid sexual intercourse and to guarantee the virginity before marriage. To the Middle Age, in Europe, we guaranteed the infidelity and the rape with «belt of Chastity » which was a belt in metal with peaks, that closed with a key or a combination and that prevented sexual intercourse with an other that the holder of the key or the combination. Women were under, during this period, «law of assets », and today «law of (men) people ».


Use of masculine words in this text can concern women as well as men in context where it would be possible.

Use of feminine words will be, according to context, by courtesy, generally with priority. Under this reserve use of the word «black » is with priority with word « white » for alphabetical reasons in English version,

Use of word « race » could be replaced by « ethnic group » (recommended by UNESCO) because it exists indeed only one human kind, and several ethnic groups.

Opinions expressed in this text do not represent authors or NEURONEDIA's opinions but of especially quoted persons, and to defect, group in charge of questions concerning xenophobia. Authors ask to please to excuse them in case where they would have committed clumsiness, and will welcome remarks to this subject. This text not would know to be considered as inciting to the racial hate. It observes the state of the situation and debates within the organization on the subject, without placing in model.


This page last updated on July 2nd, 2002.
Copyright Laurent D. FAURE and NEUROMEDIA 2002.