Exposing and deconstructing discrimination in all its diversity: Deliberative training for volunteers.

As in previous years, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is once again supporting our two-day training courses on discrimination and racism. People are still being denied goods or access to services, marginalized, threatened or attacked because of their origin or other characteristics. This ranges from everyday discrimination and hate speech on the internet to violent attacks and murder. Anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of group-focused misanthropy (GMF) have become part of mainstream society (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 2019, 2021, 2023). Civil society organizations are also confronted with GMF. Volunteers must be put in a position to respond appropriately and also to question any unconscious mechanisms they might have themselves.

But what exactly are the mechanisms behind such behavior and thought patterns? What do these attitudes and ideas have in common? How and why do prejudices arise? How do we recognize discrimination? How can we deal with these tendencies, how can we encourage our counterparts to rethink their position?

This course aims to provide volunteers in civil society organizations with detailed information on racism and discrimination as well as other forms of group-related misanthropy and to explain the socio-psychological, historical and sociological background. We also want to impart skills and discussion strategies in order to be able to deal with these issues better in everyday professional life, but also in private life and in civil society.

All forms of discrimination and misanthropy contradict the idea of human rights and the associated ideas of respect and tolerance. We explain the idea of human rights with the help of a collaborative analysis of the concepts of democracy, freedom and autonomy. The jointly developed insights are then applied to and expanded with a discussion on the topics of discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism, gender equality and homosexuality.

When the sociological similarities between different forms of discrimination are revealed, each individual form becomes less unique and justifiable. The discussion of the particular characteristics of a particular group to justify its discrimination is replaced by a higher level discussion that exposes the political, sociological and psychological motivations or forces behind each form of discrimination. This discussion is much more powerful and effective than a one-off rejection of a single form of discrimination. The same is true when discrimination is discussed in the context of fundamental values such as freedom, equality and democracy. When a consensus is reached on this philosophical level, the rejection of different ideas regarding racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or homophobia becomes clearer and more convincing.

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