Europe’s Loud Silence: a critical look at the issues of race and Afrophobia in the European Union

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Shannon, Stephanie M.
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With the current refugee and migrant crisis consuming the continent, it seems easy to forget that there is a sizeable Black minority, which has been present in Europe for a very long time and continues to suffer from socio-economic and political inequality. In this thesis, I briefly contextualize the specific form of racism experienced by Black Europeans/People of African Descent in Europe. After that I explore possible explanations for why there exists to this day in European countries a reluctance to recognize the racism that these people continue to endure. The impetus for this study stems from the fact that there has not been a single national or European policy which specifically addresses the racial inequalities and discriminations experienced by Black Europeans, despite much previous research and evidence demonstrating the need for such a policy. In examining these issues, the study employs critical race theory in order to understand the current weaknesses in EU anti-discrimination legislation, the dismissal of negative colonial memory, and the lack of intersectionality theory in institutions and policies. By conducting this critical analysis, my work advances our understanding of racism in Europe and illustrates its thesis through an in-depth discussion of racialization and the construction of the African as the “other”. The findings from this research show that the impact of vague anti-discrimination legislation, disregard for intersectionality theory and the absence of the memory of imperialism in EU discourse are more damaging than previously acknowledged in regards to the social inclusion of Black Europeans/People of African Descent in modern-day Europe. I conclude that at this point a EU Framework for National Strategies to combat Afrophobia could represent a welcome first step, but would nevertheless ultimately serve more as a symbolic effort than a true catalyst in confronting entrenched racism and discrimination towards Black European/People of African Descent.
Second semester University: Université Libre de Bruxelles
European Union, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, language