Interview with Anissa Meziti, ambassador for Unicef
ENAR Foundation met with the young French activist, Anissa Meziti, to speak about citizen activism Read in french
Hello Anissa, could you please tell us about yourself?
I would very much first like to commend the wonderful initiatives in fighting racism and promoting a civic sense and co-existence by ENAR. I’m a Law student, in love with beautiful books and I enjoy joggling with rhymes. I write about the problems that clog our society. My parents instilled in me commitment values at a very early age. On the verge of turning 16, I set up an association: Acting against Racism (A.C.R) to promote and raise awareness among young people regarding the citizen struggle against racism. Because I was eager to commit even more, at the age of 17 I became youth ambassador for UNICEF, an NGO ensuring and promoting children’s rights.
What is your take on racism in today’s society?
Racism, too often trivialised, has become a veritable scourge which is draining our society. Our beautiful, so-called universal values of equality and brotherhood are now sadly marred. In today’s society, many citizens suffer an egalitarian crisis to which certain politicians’ answers are a sort of “social surgery”, but in reality are “Band-Aid” solutions. What they should be doing is tackling the problem at its root. In France, the disturbing rise of intolerance creates a morose climate which is absolutely detestable. Tongues are being loosened; people make racist statements with impunity. We must strongly condemn this reckless racism that is settling in our society. Victor Hugo said,” There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philosophy there must be action; the strong hand finishes what the idea has sketched.” Well, I say…Let’s get started!
You are the founder of the association Acting against Racism. In your opinion, what is the breeding ground for change in the fight against racism?
In my opinion, there is a lot of work to be done on the ground. I believe that there are a lot of autistic politicians that pretend not to see or hear the real difficulties that paralyze the neighbourhoods. Many young people send out distress signals, but not feeling heard to or understood, they quickly find themselves caught in a series of prejudice and even victimisation. And it is precisely here that we must intervene. There is a lot of support work to be done, especially with the young people, and we need to start with the neighbourhoods.
You’re currently taking higher education courses. Does school play an important role in social inequalities?
It is quite obvious that social disparities are growing! I was surprised to see that the social mobility that should go through education is broken. School does not play its role of integrator. There is still an issue of misunderstanding between young people and institutions. Many boisterous youngsters find themselves excluded from such institutions, and they end up hanging around in their neighbourhoods. They find themselves trapped in a sort of vicious circle in which finding a solution can be a real challenge. At the same time, we need to be able to listen to these young people that have no stable points of reference. One must not be pessimistic about it. In the long term, there is a lot of work to be done to overcome these social inequalities that plague our society.
You are also an ambassador for UNICEF. What is the exact role of an ambassador for such organisation?
UNICEF is a non-governmental organisation grounded in the CIDE (The International Convention on Children’s Rights) which is the founding text of children’s rights and which, in France, went into effect in 1990.
The role of a youth ambassador is to mobilise the people and raise awareness regarding the situation of children around the world and the injustice that exists beyond our borders. In this way, we awaken the public conscience regarding the vulnerability of children worldwide. This is something that should concern all of us! To be more specific, we raise awareness and we organise consistent outreach initiatives. To give an example, every year we carry out outreach patrols such as “Christmas for All” for less-fortunate children. We try to do partnerships with the major retailers to provide Christmas gifts for these children. At the same time, they watch an educational film “On the way to school” that gives them a perspective about their living conditions in France.