International Anti-Racism Day preview

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Stronger Sanctions

Today in Europe, racialised communities face increased structural racism and discrimination, hate crime and hate speech, lack of access to justice and sustained socioeconomic inequalities in different areas of their lives.

These, unfortunately, have not been acknowledged as major barriers to fully enjoying fundamental and social rights. I am deeply concerned over violent attacks and hate speech, online and offline, including in the political arena.

We even see how Prime Ministers, as in the case of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, play on racist and xenophobic sentiments.

This is shameful. In my country, Sweden, right-wing groups have spread their hatred in the workplace, in the streets and online.

As in other parts of the world, their hatred is aimed particularly at minority groups.

I am a Co-President of the European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup where MEPs from different political groups come together to call for effective protection from racial discrimination and racist crimes.

It is now particularly important that we also focus on the national level and do as much as possible to ensure that all EU Member States put strong and effective anti-racist strategies in place.

We need stronger sanctions against racial discrimination.

Celebrating Differences

Throughout the many years that I have lived in Germany, racism has been omnipresent.

For a long time, I documented instances of state violence, far-right attacks and other injustices. Then documenting was not enough.

I was eager to show the people in my hometown of Erlangen, especially the youth, that racism is unacceptable, but also to showcase the history of the people around them that looked different.

It was this thought, and the announcement of the UN decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), that led to the birth of ‘Black History Weeks’, an annual event highlighting the history of Black Germans and the African Diaspora throughout the world; a history that is often unaddressed.

Each year, our community comes together to acknowledge and celebrate Black History.

This year, during International Day against Racism, my call is a simple one.

I ask the EU and its Member States to acknowledge and celebrate the history of all Europeans of non-European descent.

To that end, I call upon the House of European History to invite archives of ethnic and religious minority communities across Europe, to curate an exhibition highlighting and celebrating their rich histories.

Unpleasant Truths

Racism is one of those issues that we all know of but is often hard to get a handle on.

It exists in parts of our society that are less visible, and we often lack the proper tools, skills and representation to address it.

Conversely, unpleasant truths are sometimes simply overlooked, or worse, ignored.

This ‘hiding our heads in the sand’ behaviour is something we can address, and it needs to stop. Looking at my own role, it must disappear when drafting legislation and resolutions.

Elected representatives and Member States can do better, and they can develop greater sensitivity towards the issue. I am not giving up on tackling racism and insensitivity in European politics.

How else are we eventually going to ban racism from European football stadiums? A more aware political class is only one step to a solution, but an important one.

Throughout the EU, at all levels, a concerted effort must gather pace, to acknowledge racism and come up with concrete actions.

New anti-discrimination legislation is mentioned in von der Leyen’s political declaration.

It will only yield results when the extent of the problem is fully and widely understood as an issue of respect for human rights, and as something that makes our society better and stronger

Challenging Times

In these challenging times, we are witnessing a worrying increase of all forms of racism and intolerance, including racially motivated violence.

The Roma are among those social groups who remain continuously exposed to racism.

It starts with stereotypes, with prejudices often spread by media, extremists and unfortunately irresponsible politicians, frequently resulting in hate speech and open violence.

Racists don’t differentiate according to someone´s qualities, they judge and condemn based on differences, on skin tone or ethnicity, race or religion.

However, there are also other reasons behind the rise of this dangerous phenomena other than hatred based on differences.

There is growing inequality and social division in our societies. Many people feel left behind.

The EU has created unprecedented wealth, high standards and great opportunities for its citizens. However, these opportunities are not accessible to all.

Therefore, it is so important - while keeping the climate agenda, digital transformation or artificial intelligence in front of EU political agenda - that we remember about persisting challenges related to racism.

Omitting these challenges will further widen the gap between our citizens and leave space for extremists and populists to offer the public with their solutions based on spreading the intolerance, racism and hatred against all social groups, including the Roma.

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