Sjors, SJimmie en Zwarte Piet
On March 22nd 2016 there was supposed to be a dialogue at the European Parliament about the Afrophobia in Europe report with the European Network Against Racism but it got cancelled due to the Brussel attacks. Our toughts go out to all of the victims in the attacks in Brussel, but also to other victims of terrorism and war such as in Ankara, Ivory Coast and Syria. Racism in the forms of Afrophobia and Islamophobia in combination with neocolonial foreign policies and unjust wars create a breeding ground for extremism within Europe and abroad. Download the report here.

“Racist political discourse is predominantly framed in the context of anti-immigration and targets migrants that are both Black and Muslims. As a result Black migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Black Europeans are reportedly suffering an increase in violent hatred and discrimination across all areas of life.

Discrimination in employment is prevalent and barriers are erected at every stage to prevent black people from gaining employment that matches their skills and experience. In the United Kingdom, applicants with an African sounding surname need to send twice as many job applications as those with a White British sounding name to get an interview. Statistics across EU Member States show that people with an African origin have systematically higher unemployment rates than the national average, which is due in part to racial discrimination. In Finland, unemployment rates are more than three times higher for people of African origin (41.2%) compared to the national average (8.7%).

Black people are particularly exposed to police violence as well as racist violence and abuse from other members of the public. In Sweden, 17% of hate crimes targeted Black people in 2014 (1,075 in total). There is a lack of trust between Black communities and the police which arises from various methods used by the police such as racial profiling and lack of full investigation of racially motivated crimes. Some law enforcement personnel display clearly racist behaviours and the police forces in some Member States are described as institutionally racist.

Black pupils experience racism in schools such as racist bullying and biased teaching materials and practice. Teachers’ influence and racial discrimination of Black pupils can have significant implications on educational attainment and life chances of Black people. In the Netherlands, pupils of African descent were under-evaluated by teachers, despite higher scores in the test to determine the level of education pupils may proceed to.

Other examples of discrimination include refusal of health treatment for Black people and prejudice shown by health care staff; significant discrimination in the private rental market; and stereotypical images in the media where Black people are either depicted as criminals and irregular migrants or as performers.  In the Netherlands the Saint Nicolas tradition which includes blackface is an example of a racist stereotype which offend and dehumanized people of African descent:


“In the Netherlands a strong link has been made between the role of education, historiography and blackface used for the Black Pete character during the annual St. Nicholas celebrations. Since 2011 there has been a high profile debate around White Dutch people dressing up  as the character in blackface with red lipstick and gold earrings, which are elements of racist stereotypes. The debate has revealed the lack of historical perspective in the Netherlands and limited collective memory on the Dutch colonial past. It highlights the gaps in the history curriculum and its impact on the current lives of people of African descent. The absence of Europe’s role in the slave trade and the colonisation of Africa in curricula impacts on contemporary relationships between White Europeans and PAD/BE. As highlighted by the Netherlands questionnaire response, the lack of attention paid to slavery and colonialism in history books can cause a rupture in the understanding of the concept of race and racial inequality. It enables some European countries to justify their capitalist exploitation by decoupling it from their presence in the colonies.”


Sjors, SJimmie en Zwarte Piet


“There is not a single national or European policy that specifically addresses the racial inequalities and discrimination experienced by Black people”, said ENAR Chair Sarah Isal. “Given the overwhelming evidence, this is shocking. We cannot just ignore the lives of the 12 million Black people in Europe. This is a wake-up call to the EU and its Member States to end structural discrimination against Black people. We need an EU Framework for national strategies to combat Afrophobia and promote the inclusion of people of African descent, with clear targets and indicators.”


In 2014 the European Network Against Racism and MEP Malin Björk (GUE/NGL, Sweden) are organized a debate on ‘Afrophobic stereotypes vs tradition: the case of Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands’ in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. See video:

For further information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531 – Email: – Web:

Notes to the editor:
1. ENAR’s 2014-15 Shadow Report on Afrophobia in Europe is based on data and information from 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The report, as well as country briefings, are available here:

3. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR aisbl) stands against racism and discrimination and advocates equality and solidarity for all in Europe. We connect local and national anti-racist NGOs throughout Europe and voice the concerns of ethnic and religious minorities in European and national policy debates.