Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce a resolution recognizing Europe’s Black population and expressing solidarity with their struggle.
On April 29, 2008, I chaired the U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing entitled, “The State of (In)visible Black Europe: Race, Rights, and Politics” which focused on the more than 7 million people who make up Europe’s Black or Afro-descendant population.
Despite their numerous contributions to European society, like African-Americans here, many Black Europeans face the daily challenges of racism and discrimination.
This includes being the targets of violent hate crimes, many of which have resulted in death. Existing inequalities in education, housing, and employment remain a problem and racial profiling is a norm. Few Black Europeans are in leadership positions and political participation is also limited for many, providing obstacles for addressing these problems.
In an effort to raise public awareness of these issues at the national and international level, the Black European Women’s Council, BEWC, was launched on September 9, 2008 at the European Union’s headquarters. More than 130 Black women from across Europe came to “insist on the recognition and inclusion of Black Europeans economically, politically, and culturally.”
This resolution supports BEWC’s fight for equality and urges European governments to implement recently introduced anti-discrimination legislation and other plans of action, including a fund for victims incapacitated as a result of a hate crime.
Given the history of our own country, an increase in transatlantic cooperative efforts between our government and European governments, U.S. and European based civil rights groups, and within the private sector would also provide useful partnerships and assistance in combating racism and discrimination abroad and at home.
This resolution therefore also calls on the U.S. government to increase support for public and private sector initiatives focused on combating racism and discrimination in Europe as part of our efforts to support global human rights.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this Resolution Recognizing Black Europeans and encourage them to review the statements and submissions from the Helsinki Commission’s Black Europe Hearing at www.csce.gov. Additionally, I would like to submit the following background materials on Black Europeans for the official record.