Afrophobia in Europe: Groundbreaking ENAR report


The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) launched a ground-breaking Shadow Report on Afrophobia in Europe on Monday, March 21st, explaining what Afrophobia is and why it is an urgent problem in all European countries despite the EU Racial Equality Directive and other legislation to prevent discrimination.

This report is particularly important in the UK- should we leave or stay in the EU debate, not least because in many areas it highlights the discrimination directed towards people of African descent right across the Europe, but also looks to a EU collective solution to deal with the problems.

The report defines Afrophobia as racism against people of African descent, Black Europeans, and anyone who identifies as Black which does “not necessarily refer to a skin colour so much as a sociologically constructed identity.” Because ethnicity and race are social constructs the data is hard to collect for this type of racism as many European countries do not have records or statistics on Black people within their different societies.

The report dedicates a section to Employment and Education, but also points out the connection between the two as lack of education among minorities leads to fewer job opportunities and less employment statistically.

There are different factors related to Afrophobia that affect employment for Black people in Europe, an individual’s name, gender, race, and religion all affect employment. A department for Work and Pensions in the UK study found in 2009 that “British-sounding” names were more likely to receive a job interview, whereas African and Asian sounding names have to send twice the amount of job applications for interviews. Employment rates for black people across Europe are disproportionately low, and for people who falls into groups of intersectionality, like Black Muslim women, who face multiple forms of discrimination the rate of unemployment is extremely high.

Even employed Black Europeans face discrimination within the workforce from clients and the people they work with. All European countries have had cases of discrimination by employers reading applications and within employment.

The United Nations has declared education a universal human right yet many Black Europeans face discrimination and bullying that leads to lower education and higher dropout rates. The ENAR report states, “being Black and male has a greater impact on numeracy levels than having a learning disability,” according to Commission in the UK findings from 2010. In the UK only 1.54 percent of academics are Black and this has an effect on the way Black students learn and view themselves.

Segregation in schools is prominent and “closely linked to the socio-economic status of families, housing and education.” Impoverished areas are usually inhabited by Black people and other ethnic minorities, the schools in these areas become segregated and generate less educational opportunities than “white-schools” in more affluent areas.

School curriculum in Europe is also discriminatory because it neglects to recognise the horrors of White Europeans during colonisation and the influence of Black people on European history. The way Black people are represented in history textbooks often reinforces stereotypes, only telling Black history through the lens of slavery, which “adds to the notion of White superiority.”

The ENAR report urges the EU to recognise Afrophobia and create new policies that deal directly with this type of racism. Discrimination often overlaps and without definite strategies to combat the complex problems within Europe much of the racism will continue to be overlooked.

Mary Schlichte