From commitment to practice: towards a more inclusive and anti-racist FNV. A research project on how anti-racism has been done, is being done and could be done in the future within the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV)
Marlen, A. van
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This thesis explores the ways anti-racism in the largest trade union federation of the Netherlands Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV) has been done historically, is currently being done and what we can learn from the knowledge and experiences of twelve members and employees of the FNV who do anti-racism. Anti-racism is defined in this thesis in the broadest sense, referring to beliefs, commitments, policy and activities that explicitly oppose racism and/or contribute to racial equality. The thesis is built on a “scavenger methodology” (Halberstam, 1998, p.13; Wekker, 2016, p.32), using insights from Critical Race Theory, Feminist Theory and participatory action research. Bringing together material from archives, interviews and my own experience as an FNV employee firstly I develop a historical overview of anti-racism within the FNV from the 1980s until now and secondly, I discuss the participants’ motivations for and views on doing anti-racism within the FNV; their experiences of anti-racism within the FNV; and their recommendations to the FNV so as to become a more diverse, inclusive and explicitly anti-racist union movement. The thesis first of all shows that it seems the FNV has not been able to implement anti-racist practice despite its expressed commitment to anti-racism and despite the efforts of members and employees since the 1980s. Secondly, the knowledge and experiences of the participants point to a deeply embedded racial structure of privilege, prioritization and oppression within the FNV: whiteness. This means there are significant barriers for people of colour to join and organise within the FNV, as well as for anyone who engages in anti-racism. The participants recommend the FNV to recognise and acknowledge institutional racism; to create awareness amongst white members and employees of the FNV; to create, facilitate and respect space for and autonomy of people of colour; and to actively support the anti-racist struggle of people of colour. Bringing the historical overview and the knowledge of the participants together in the final chapter, I am able to look towards further recommendations for an anti-racist FNV. Most notably, I call on the FNV to: (1) make use of existing knowledge and material on anti-racism; (2) rethink policy implementation and evaluation processes; (3) critically examine processes and procedures within the FNV that may be privileging and disadvantaging some over others; (4) actively prioritise and reach out to people of colour and their issues; and (5) Implement top-down measures and open up financial resources to advance anti-racist practice and develop them in collaboration with people of colour within the FNV. I argue that not only is an anti-racist union movement imperative, but now is the time for the FNV to prove that it is truly committed to its core principles: social justice, freedom, equality and solidarity.