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Div’Apéro - Session 6

Only when impossible and unexpected things happen is it possible to challenge your team up to the confirmation of how wonderful, resourceful and hard-working they are…

A story told by Laura Cano Sastre, volunteer for the ENAR Foundation

The Welcoming: Music and halal?

This year, the Div’Apéro thrown for the guests of the ENAR European Anti-Racist Convention , has coincided with La Fête de la Musique. It was only natural to organize the topic around the entertainment media and the role of artists towards discrimination and stereotypes. The French journalist Rokhaya Diallo was in charge of moderating the debate, integrated by Anwar and Bwalya Mwali. But, REC. and back to the beginning.

At six o’clock I arrived at La Dorée, the beautiful room where the Div’Apéro is about to take part. At the Place Communale, the stage is being set up for the night concert. Inside the building, volunteers and interns of ENAR foundation, alongside with helpers from TAG City (ENAR Foundation’s cultural partner), were rearranging tables, chairs, food and drinks to prepare for this big event. I quickly joined the crew. I first tried with the beers. Mon Dieu! My muscles scream out in astonishment (something like "What is this? Are we supposed to cooperate?") Well, if they don’t cooperate I can’t figure out who will pass by miraculously and give a miraculous hand. I manage to carry the box with food and, before I get to the kitchen, I pictured the members having to eat the pizza that I’d have to order if I let it fall. Mon Dieu! This is a recurring expression coming from my lips during this phase. I still haven’t found out who these formidable little assistants were, but they were very strong angels in my book! Each one of them grabs an item and carries it with their tiny arms without any problems. They even ask me where they should drop everything. I bet they would have taken the beers to the roof if I had told them to. "-Mademoiselle, oú...? -Non, non! C’est très lourd pour toi! (Miss, where…? No, no! It’s too heavy for you!)" After a ridiculous attempt to prevent them, I assume their superiority. The high table I grab starts to unfold and fold again, and I spin like a defective spinning top. But the miraculous youngsters take most of the tables upstairs and we set them up. Maybe what I feel the proudest of was the rearrangement of the room in only ten minutes. Anna, Marlene, Natalie, Pascal and I could make a dining room full of tables look like an auditorium where a debate could take place in no time!

When the members arrived so did the ENAR staff and interns. For any party host, this is the most exciting part: the welcoming. For me, it was doubly rewarding since I got to see my former workmates. Anna greets me back with her easy and big smile. She’s been preparing sandwiches all morning. Suddenly, Rita jumps in front of me. Had she fallen from the sky? After what I’ve witnessed, I’m willing to believe anything. She has another great smile and a beautiful dress from Antwerp. Juliana, Myriam, Julie, Anne-Sophie, Michael, Claire, Jamaar, and even Nidaa arrive after a while. I can only be joyful with this reunion despite missing Silvia.

The Debate: drug dealers and terrorists?

Guests have taken their seats and the debate is about to start. Before I go into it, I must apologise to Claire’s husband for stealing his pen. I have a problem with them which is I tend to make them disappear (pens, not husbands!). The moment I asked for his, I should have known I would never give it back. Perhaps he already knew, but he still lent it to me. I promise that I will give him one back (if not the same, another nice one).

The debate was opened by Rokhaya. To her left was Bwalya Mwali, Vice President of the African Women’s league/ Founder, Networking for Africa in Belgium, and to her right, was Anwar Taoutaou. The topic has been announced as "The Role of the Entertainment Industry in Creating and Promoting Cultural Diversity." As a seasoned musician with Moroccan roots, Anwar has some valuable insight about the role of artists in fighting stereotypes. According to him, even if Arabs accept Hollywood roles as terrorists or drug dealers, they can use the power of fame and visibility to be heard by getting involved in campaigns. However, it’s up to everyone as to how much of their community image they are willing to sacrifice for success. The fight cannot fall into victimisation. Complaining doesn’t lead to more attention and even to less power to influence. Only by doing it right—whatever we do, and by being admired by our work, we can start to break the limits. Bwalya shared her insight from the African Women Association, working on cultural projects that show the exceptional contribution of women from ethnic backgrounds to European cultures.

The End: is it over?

The interns are indeed giving their best at the bar. Either at attending, preparing and reviewing conferences or pouring wine into cups, they rock the task. I’m able to talk to some members, while trying to sell them tombola tickets. They are always happy to explain the role of their organisations and the challenges in their countries towards discrimination. The responsible of "Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia" puts me in contact with the antiracism movement in Spain, my own country.

The dinner is over and desserts start to come out. Very appealing small pies topped with fruit. Suddenly I see most of the guests holding one of these. Since the activity at the bar has decreased, the interns got the chance to take a break one by one.. Everyone enjoyed chatting with different people and tasting the lovely deserts after the dinner. After a long day of conferences, talks, and debates, guests started to leave close to 10 o’clock. Wine is over, and the food is gone. Is the Div’Apéro over? Already? The concert of Manou Gallo and Flavia Coelho is about to start outside. The night is young, and so are the people who invested their time and energy into promoting diversity, equality and solidarity.

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