Press Releases

Hastings' Statement on Afrophobia in Europe

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Fort Lauderdale, FL, February 20, 2014 | comments

Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement after the European Parliament held a public hearing on Afrophobia and the critical importance of continuing to work with the European Union (EU) to address racism and discrimination against Black Europeans. The hearing was organized by the Green Party, in collaboration with the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR).

“An estimated seven to ten million individuals of African descent currently live in Europe, particularly in France, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. These populations form an influential part of the African Diaspora. From labor and scholarship to politics and civil rights, they have contributed greatly to European history and culture over the past several centuries. However, the story of Black Europeans remains widely untold, rendering many of their past and present contributions to the political and social life of Europe invisible or forgotten. Similar to the experiences of many African Americans, they have increasingly become the targets of discrimination, pernicious racial profiling, and violent hate crimes impacting equal access to housing, employment, education, and justice.

“I commend Members of the European Parliament Jean-Jacob Bicep, Jean Lambert, and Philippe Lamberts of the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) for building upon previous efforts and hosting a public hearing on Afrophobia in the EU. As the Ranking Democratic Member of the Helsinki Commission, I have long worked with European policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community leaders to help address inequality and discrimination facing persons of African descent.

“In November 2013, the U.S. Helsinki Commission hosted an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) delegation of Black European Rights Leaders representing 10 countries.

“During a Commission briefing, entitled Europeans of African Decent Black Europeans: Race, Rights, and Politics, members of the delegation shed light on the challenges encountered by many Black Europeans due to ongoing racism and discrimination, including barriers to greater political representation and leadership opportunities. Furthermore, they drew attention to the need for increased cooperation between Europe and the United States to combat racial discrimination and continuing racial disparities.

“In conjunction with the Delegation's visit, I introduced H. Res. 421, Recognizing people of African Descent and Black Europeans, which outlines concrete steps that the United States can take to help address racism and discrimination in Europe. It calls for the adoption of a Joint US-European Union Action Plan to develop transatlantic solutions to combat racial discrimination and promote racial equality in Europe.

“In addition, I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to adopt a Presidential initiative for People of African descent around the world.

“Europe is currently grappling with complex questions at the intersection of national identity, decreasing birth rates, increasing immigration, security concerns, and a rise in extremist political parties. Cooperation between the United State and the EU is key to addressing the global challenges of racism and discrimination, and we should recognize the efforts made by the EU to address them.”

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

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