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Interview with Silvia Volpi on tackling the invisible racism through a MOOC

Here's the interview with Silvia VOLPI, the coordinator of a project on invisible racism, which also includes a massive open online course "Make it Visible"

Dear Silvia, could you, please, tell, what is invisible racism? How does it differ from the traditional definition of racism

Let’s say, in our opinion, for the partners, invisible racism - harmful behaviours which are considered normal and accepted by society. The line that draws between what we all know by racism and invisible racism is a line of tolerance. Invisible racism is when we tell racist jokes, or when we avoid contact, okes people from different ethnic groups. Those behaviours lead to exclusions, anxiety and influence people well-being. It is invisible because we are used to it.

Why is it important to act against it?

It’s important to take upon this topic, it seems to be a very small behaviour or issue, but it’s not very innocent – telling a racist joke, can in a steady and slow way escalate to discrimination or even violence. The link between invisible racism and visible racism is quite strong and they feed each other. Currently, it’s accepted to say jokes against Chinese people in Italy, since the word has it, that they brought the Coronavirus, this kind of behaviours are now tolerated, people don’t want to sit next to a Chinese. It doesn’t look like a big issue, it’s built by a daily small action and if they accumulate, it’s a big problem. People who suffer from invisible racism are then excluded, if you don’t feel that you are not accepted because of your physical appearance, it can lead to anxiety, and secondly, you feel excluded. Moreover, if you don’t feel good, included and secure, you may also internalize the negative attitudes.

What do you think are ways to act against invisible racism? How can young people contribute to that?

There are different ways, it depends on the people, the context we live, and the challenges we face. In my opinion, we should reflect on ourselves, and, first, work on ourselves, before we work on others. If you want to improve, first work on yourself. Secondly, if we aim to change something in us because we are not happy the way we live, definitely, we can mirror ourselves to other people, get people motivated to change too. From personal to societal change, you can step-by-step be a part of emancipation. Young people can be interested in that, invisible racism surrounds us and it’s important to act against. This is why it’s important to recognise it, to be aware of our actions and to act against invisible racist. No one is very pure in terms of being not racist, it’s important to be aware of our actions and change it for the good of society. It’s important that young people are aware of this phenomenon, they are able to recognise it and work about it.

The online course starts on March 2, 2020, can you tell us, how will it look like and what will the course bring to its participants?


The MOOC will tackle the invisible racism, it starts with the introduction of racism and invisible racism, go along with the human rights frameworks and human rights education. There will be a session, where participants share their own experiences - we think the community will be an added value that will enrich the course. We will have different interviews with the people who have contributed the project in various ways. We have used different tools in tackling the issue in different countries, and participants can, therefore, find the combination of theory and practice that can be replicated in their context. The course participants can interview people who were running projects and activities against invisible racism. Moreover, participants will have the opportunity of what they do in their context and other practices they know. The MOOC is sought to be very interactive; we will use different tools – videos, audios, graphics and so on, we try to accommodate the interest and needs of every participant.

Who do you think should apply for your course?

Anyone who is interested to discover the invisible racism. I suggest people who are involved in education – trainers, youth workers, teachers, youth leaders. But also, anyone who cares about this topic.

Standing Together Against Racism
STAR Project - Standing Together Against Racism

What other resources are available for people who wants to take action against invisible racism?

There are a lot of tools around – mainly from the Council of Europe – No Hate Speech Movement created a lot of tools, the manuals that exist, create a solid basis to act against invisible racism (All Different - All Equal, Compass, Compassito). MOOC participants will learn further on what is available in Europe.

I invite people to apply and enjoy the experience with us.

Will the course materials be available for people who won’t manage to apply for it before March, 2?

Yes, it will be, however, we encourage you to follow the course when it's active.

STAR project participants

The Massive Open Online Course - "Make it Visible" starts very soon, on March 2, you can access the course here:

Silvia VOLPI is from REDU - Rete Educare Diritti Umani - which is a member of Human Rights Education Youth Network.

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