Brussels, 5 December 2017 – The European Union High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance is meeting today and will for the first time discuss the specific racism faced by people of African descent in the European Union. This is a major step forward in recognising the prevalence of Afrophobia and acting to combat it.
This high-level group was established to tackle and prevent hate crime and speech. Black people in Europe are particularly exposed to racist violence and hate speech.
In Sweden, 17% of hate crimes targeted Black people in 2014. The EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey on minorities, to be published tomorrow, will also highlight that a significant proportion of Black people felt discriminated because of their ethnic background or skin colour and have experienced hate motivated harassment or violence. Black women are vulnerable to discrimination at the intersection of race and gender.
Jallow Momodou, representative of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) said: “This discussion is an important first step to end the current state of denial when it comes to Afrophobia in Europe. But much more needs to be done to tackle the structural racism that prevents Black people from being included in European society. We need the EU and its member States to adopt specific measures to combat a specific form of racism. Europe has to recognise that contemporary racism and current enslavement of people of African descent is a legacy of the history of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism”.
Today’s meeting is welcomed as the EU has so far failed to mark the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. This Decade is an opportunity for EU Member States to commit to action towards justice, full participation and equal rights for people of African descent in their respective countries. Specific measures to address racial inequalities and discrimination experienced by Black people, such as an evidence-based national action plan, would be an important step in the right direction.
In addition, this meeting takes place on the eve of the children’s celebration of Saint-Nicholas, which is important in many EU countries. Unfortunately, the persistence of discriminatory stereotypes in this tradition, including the use of blackfacing, is having negative impacts on children and perpetuates deeply rooted stereotypes about Black people, which can exacerbate and justify discrimination and violence. We need to ensure festive celebrations are inclusive of all and free of racist stereotypes.
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