EU Commission Report on “Being Black in Europe” 28.11.18

Academic Leads: Dr Michael McEachrane and Dr Ornette D Clennon with Esther Mamadou (ENPAD)

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I was invited by ENPAD to contribute to some of the strategic thinking in the policy forum discussion that was arranged to explore the policy implications of the Being Black in Europe report.

Report Launch in the European Parliament

We are here to examine the policy implications of this report:

For details about Cecile Kyenge’s political victimisation, see here.

This description very much evokes Du Bois’ 1912 Of the Training of Black Men.

Generating Agency

See Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Case for Reparations. For argument suggesting the need for greater nuance around the debate around the reparations, see Chapter 1 of Black Scholarship Activism between the Academy and Grassroots.

This point about the need for better application of the law seemed to be a running undercurrent during the day and will be explored later.

Decolonising Education

There is much work to do to bring the knowledge of the academy about critical race studies into the popular domain, especially in the area of education. For information about the crucial role of supplementary schools in creating knowledge agency in the face of a sometimes mainstream education that can often appear to seek to obscure, see here, here and here.

The need for Intersectional Policy Making

For some UK research into this area of race, sexuality and mental health, see here.

For research into BAME health inequalities and structural discrimination, see here.

Statutory Data Collection for Evidence-based Policy Making

For work around the correlation of the UN SDGs and the work of civil society and grassroots groups, resulting in a Community Reporting Matrix, see here.

Equality Bodies and their Role

See below for suggested ideas around strategic litigation. However the diversity of Equality bodies, themselves was called into question….

Click on tweet below to access video

More information about Sweden’s UN audit on race and inequality, here.

In summary


Policy Forum in the European Commission

Here are the joint policy recommendations that we wanted to discuss with the EU Commission:

The Role of the EU Commission and Member State Compliance

The Need for Strategies to tackle Afrophobia

Presentation and discussion of the Report

This is an important point because the report can still be viewed through the prism of the invisibility or pseudo-neutrality of “whiteness” which means that progress will be very difficult to attain. Whiteness needs to be problematised and recognised, as part of the solution (c.f. decolonisation of both the coloniser and the colonised). Without this recognition, developing policies will be very difficult because the negative ethea of powerbrokering institutions will never be fully examined.

Recognising the Structural Legacy of Colonialism

For some of our contextual UN policy development work in this area of campaigning for the recognition of colonialism through education, see here.

In policy terms, I am alluding to the need of a stricter adherence to the original implications of Crenshaw’s 1991 Mapping the Margins, in terms of both the overlapping vectors of injustice and the gaps in the law to deal with them.

Closer EU Commission Partnership Work with Civil Society Grassroots Organisations?

It is interesting that the knowledge and skills base of civil society and especially grassroots organisations are not routinely recognised as demonstrating “expertise”. So, although these groups are regularly consulted about research, they tend not be awarded the initial FUNDED contracts to actually conduct the research because there appears to be a widespread perception that they do not have the expertise. For more about how knowledge can be decentralised away from the academy and acknowledged in community spaces, see here, here and here.

This very much ties in to the earlier observation about the lack of diversity in equality bodies and their need to widen their recruitment strategies (e.g. ethnic minority internships, closer links with ethnic minority-led civil society organisations and NGOs etc)

Continuation of Statutory Obligation to Collect Demographic Data

The Race Disparity Audit is a good example, see here.

Roundtable Discussion

Accessibility of Policy Making Process to Communities


Generating Agency

See here, here and here for the implications for funding in this area of litigation.

Possible Next Steps

Campaigning Activities

ENPAD and ENAR need to continue campaigning for the adoption of statutory obligations to collect disaggregated data on ethnic minority inequalities in member states. It would be good for ENPAD and ENAR to be more closely involved in designing and delivering future EU Commission reports and surveys into member state data collection. Clearly, policies designed to tackle ethnic minority inequalities will be easier to write with comprehensive data as evidence. This will be extremely important for nation states such as Spain (as explained by Esther Mamadou), Finland and Poland (and others).

Political Activism Activities

In view of the EU elections in May 2019, building on Dr Michael McEachrane’s suggestion for an EU Commission event, ENPAD and ENAR should prepare for this event by augmenting their human rights training workshops to include educating their participants about the political party systems in their member states. We need to utilise the best practice of our US colleague LaTosha Brown, who has paved the way in finding ways to galvanise the African American grassroots vote (making a critical difference in election results in some US states). In an EU context, grassroots civic engagement programmes are very much needed but equally needed are engagement and alignment with the most appropriate political parties that will be able to represent and action social justice reforms. The minority voter has the power to become the king maker and their potential currency needs to be galvanised in order to create leverage (i.e. lobbying) at national levels. However, for instance, without statutory data collection, this echoes Esther Mamadou’s concerns and challenges about the lack of migrant registration in Spain with its ensuing political implications.

Strategic Litigation

Michael O’Flaherty correctly surmised that we already have laws that prohibit structural discrimination and that we need to find ways of better enforcing them. This will be a challenge for some member states who simply do not have the data to act as evidence that can build strong legal cases. However, in current (for now) member states such as the UK where data on ethnic minority discrimination is robust, strategic litigation has now got to be considered (as it is with the Windrush debacle). Building on a post roundtable conversation with Larry Olomofe, we will need to follow up as a matter of urgency on the developments of the BEUC report that explored mechanisms of legal redress in the EU. We will also need to closely examine ways of funding litigation campaigns using mixed income stream models (EU institutional, private finance e.g. Open Society Foundations as identified by Esther Mamadou, grassroots enterprise financing systems, etc).

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