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Addressing internalised racism through youth work

Published on 09.01.2021 at 20:33

Refugee integration in Europe continues to increasingly resulting in oppressive discourses and policies deemed acceptable across the sociopolitical spectrum in which racial profiling, discriminatory policing, and the xenophobic violence against refugees have become tolerable and normalised. Such an integration is nothing but an assimilation process in which refugees are inclined to adapt to the European cultures and values, and suppress their lived experiences which lead to an increased rate of internalised racism among refugees.

 

Internalised racism makes its biggest impacts on young adult refugees who yet do not have any context for understanding the injustices of society, but internalise society’s racial prejudices without a framework for understanding racism. However, any prejudiced, discriminated young adult refugee, does not necessarily turn racial prejudices inward. Many remain proud of their heritage, and cultures, and take prominent positions in the broader community through their exercised intelligence, talent, and self-respect. It is not to be assumed that just because a person is a refugee who has experienced racial prejudices, and discrimination, he or she is suffering from internalised racism.

 

Each young adult refugee is unique, with a unique lived experience and story. If internalised racism is assumed in all cases without getting to know a person a little, in trying to be helpful, we might find that we are being condescending. Unfortunately, racism has become a commodity for anti-racism agents who are always eager to think and create solutions on how young adult refugees should address experienced racism without consulting them; ask them about their lived experience, most importantly, how they prefer to be helped. Hence, our recent manual on addressing internalised racism integrates a researched-based pathway to empower young refugees to overcome internalised racism.

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