Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement after introducing a resolution in recognition of people of African descent and Black Europeans, and outlining concrete steps for the United States to take to help address racism and discrimination in Europe (Please find attached a copy of the resolution):
“An estimated seven to ten million individuals of African descent currently live in Europe, particularly in France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, and 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. Furthermore, 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.
“This week, it was my great privilege and honor to welcome to Washington, D.C. 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 in Europe, and preside as Ranking Democratic Member over a U.S. Helsinki Commission briefing, entitled ‘Europeans of African Decent ‘Black Europeans’: Race, Rights, and Politics.’ Building on past and current initiatives, the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to shed light on the experiences of Black Europeans in the face of ongoing racism and discrimination, specifically with regard to their representation in leadership positions and political participation. Their personal testimonies offered a raw and honest glimpse into the realities of many Blacks living in Europe, and provided an opportunity for lawmakers, human rights advocates, and others to interface on solutions to addressing issues of inequality, discrimination, and inclusion in the 57 North American and European countries that make up the region of the OSCE.
“Cooperation is key to addressing the global problems of racism and discrimination. I was pleased to introduce today a resolution recognizing people of African descent, and particularly Europe’s Black community and political leaders. Among other things, the resolution 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. I believe that our government can do more to help advance human rights and inclusion, including more partnerships with Black European communities and the public and private sectors; increased parliamentary activities such as legislation and policy, speaking out against racism, and increasing the political participation of racial minorities; and working with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“This resolution reaffirms the importance of inclusion and the full and equal participation of people of African descent around the world in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life. As we continue working to strengthen our democracy and root out racism and discrimination here at home, I encourage all my colleagues in Congress to join me in recognizing and celebrating the collective history and achievements made by people of African descent.”
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.