Hastings Urges Increased Support for Combating Racism and Discrimination against Blacks and Other Minorities in Europe

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), introduced a resolution calling on the United States government to increase support for public and private sector initiatives focused on combating racism and discrimination against blacks and other minorities in Europe.

“Black Europeans are a population of more than 7 million. Increasingly, they have become the targets of violent hate crimes, many resulting in death,” said Chairman Hastings. “It is imperative that the U.S. government increase its support for European efforts to combat racism and discrimination.”

The introduction of the resolution coincides with the launch of the Black European Women’s Council (BEWC) and their effort to fight for equality (visit: http://www.bewnet.eu/). In an effort to raise public awareness at the national and international level, BEWC brought together over 130 Black women from across Europe to “insist on the recognition and inclusion of Black Europeans economically, politically, and culturally.”

The resolution also urges European governments to implement recently introduced anti-discrimination legislation and action plans, including a fund for victims incapacitated as a result of a hate crime.

“Like African-Americans, Black Europeans continue to be hampered by inequalities in education, housing, employment, and the criminal justice system, (e.g., racial profiling). Few Blacks are in leadership positions and political participation is limited for many, providing additional obstacles for addressing these problems. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution recognizing Black Europeans, their numerous contributions to society, and the struggles they face daily,” said Chairman Hastings.

On April 29, Chairman Hastings held a hearing entitled, “The State of (In)visible Black Europe: Race, Rights, & Politics,” focusing on the challenges and opportunities experienced by Europe’s Black population amidst reported increases in racism and discrimination, anti-immigration and national identity debates, and growing security concerns. Additionally, the hearing examined the impact of anti-discrimination measures as well as diversity initiatives aimed at ensuring and protecting equal rights for a population many do not know exists.

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