Using popular culture to engage young people in human rights reporting

Nigdy Wiecej (Never Again) is using pop culture to build an anti-racist youth network in Poland. At rock concerts and soccer matches the group reaches out to large numbers of young people and makes them aware of the prob­lem. It then recruits some to join a network of correspondents who monitor and report on the activities of neo-fas­cist and racist groups in their hometowns.

As part of its rock campaign Music Against Racism, Nigdy Wiecej organizes concerts and publishes compilation CDs featuring well-known Polish and foreign rock bands. At the concerts and inside the cases of the CDs, Nigdy Wiecej educates the audience about the seriousness of the problem of racism in Poland and calls on audience members to become active agents of social change.

Poland’s soccer stadiums had been almost completely dominated by a xenophobic subculture before Nigdy Wiecej started its Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums campaign. As part of the campaign, the group publishes Stadion, an anti-racist magazine for soccer fans, has released a CD, organizes amateur soccer tournaments and provides banners and leaflets used during games to show their presence to other local anti-racist groups.

Through these youth-focused campaigns, Nigdy Wiecej has recruited a network of 150 voluntary correspondents who are required to report monthly on racist and xenophobic activity in their communities. Nigdy Wiecej collects these reports, publishes them in its own monthly magazine and distributes them to the Polish and international press. The network and the publication help raise awareness of the problem of racism among a much larger cross-section of Polish society, well beyond young soccer and rock fans.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.

What we can learn from this tactic: 

Discussion groups, forums and workshops are all common tools for raising awareness of an issue and get­ting new people involved, but these tactics may not be dynamic enough to catch the attention of certain target groups — namely, young people. An organization in Poland has zeroed in on two effective ways to reach young people and hold their attention: music and sports.

Nigdy Wiecej uses pop culture to get young people — a sympathetic, but otherwise often uninvolved constitu­ency — involved in human rights work, but it doesn’t stop at concerts and sports. Once people have expressed interest and a commitment to volunteering, the organization ensures that they have the chance to get more involved. Adaptations of this tactic could be used to overcome widespread apathy in a variety of situations, but the issue itself is important: it must be something young people can feel connected to, something that could potentially touch their own lives.