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Ghent buries the words ‘immigrant’ and ‘native’

With a playful ceremony, the city of Ghent has carried the words ‘immigrant’ and ‘native’ (autochthon) to their grave. With 10 concrete actions, the city wants to eliminate racism.

The idea was launched by the newspaper 'De Morgen', which has banned the words from all of its articles. The initiative has been adopted by Amsterdam and Ghent. To be clear, Ghent does not want to get rid of these two words themselves, but of the negative connotations that they often have.

March 21 is now known as the day of the ‘Gentse Lente’. It was an unusual funeral because of all the smiling people.
The ‘Gentse Lente’ started at St. Jacobs with a Ghent version of the European anthem. This was followed by a debate on the usefulness of ‘burying’ the words. The action was welcomed, but many had their doubts about the concrete objectives and consequences.



In addition to the symbolic burial, the city responded to a call by the European Coalition of Cities against Racism and came up with a quirky music video for the song 'contradictio' by the Ghent hip-hop group Raw & Onbesproken. The clip you’ll recognize known and unknown Ghent as mayor Daniel Termont, writer Herman Brusselmans and actor Johan Heldenberg.

 

 

Both the funeral and the music clip fit into Ghent’s action plan against racism. The city wants to eliminate racism with 10 concrete actions:

  • 1. Greater vigilance against racism
  • 2. Assessing racism and discrimination and vetting municipal policies
  • 3. Better support for victims of racism and discrimination
  • 4. More participation and better informed citizens
  • 5. The city as an active supporter of Equal Opportunity actions
  • 6. The city as an employer and service provider with a focus on equal opportunities
  • 7. Equitable access to housing
  • 8. Combating racism and discrimination through education
  • 9. Promoting cultural diversity
  • 10. Hate crime and conflict management