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