Racism Is Still The Global Issue That No One Wants To Talk About

by John Haltiwanger

In the aftermath of the unsettling shooting of an unarmed African-American teen, Michael Brown, the United States is once again facing many tough questions surrounding racism and injustice. Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer on August 9.

His shooting immediately led to protests in Ferguson, which eventually escalated into rioting, vandalism, looting and violent clashes between residents and the local police.

At present, the situation in Ferguson is only getting worse, as understandably angry residents continue to clash with police.

It's tragic that in 2014, the United States of America is still dealing with systematic racial discrimination, particularly given the history of the country in relation to slavery and Jim Crow. Progress is a bumpy and convoluted road.

Yet, the United States is not alone, as there are also many disturbing trends surrounding race, immigration and politics in Europe.

Likewise, as this man from Paris recently Tweeted:

We complain about racism in America but in Europe it's severe — Olà⚡️ (@olaadams_) August 12, 2014

Neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism are shockingly and disturbingly on the rise in many nations across Europe. At present, this is true both in terms of European politics and culture.

Racism in Europe at its worst since the 1980s claims @ENAREurope — Euro Rights Blog (@eurorights) May 16, 2014

Neo-Nazis In the EU: European Parliament Elections

Just in case anyone was in any doubt that #GoldenDawn are nazis: Ilias #Kasidiaris MP sports a swastika tatoo — Damian Mac Con Uladh (@damomac) August 4, 2013
Ukip look set for landmark win in EU elections, despite widespread claims of racism — The Independent (@Independent) May 18, 2014

In May, the world witnessed what some have characterized as a "political earthquake" in Europe, as far-right parties from a number of countries gained substantial ground in the European Parliament.

A leader of one of these parties from Greece, Ilias Kasidiaris, even has a swastika tattooed to his arm (seen above). That's essentially the equivalent of letting someone dress as a member of the KKK in the US Congress.

Neo-Nazism is not only evident in Greece, it is also prevalent in Sweden, among other European countries. Some neo-Nazis from Sweden have also made pilgrimages to Ukraine in an attempt to influence the situation there.

Accordingly, many of these far-right parties have radical and oppressive agendas.

For example, the founder of the French party Front National suggested that Ebola could be released on migrants in order to decrease their numbers. Moreover, in Holland, the Party for Freedom is fiercely anti-Islam, so much so that it wants to prevent Muslims from being able to enter the country.

Needless to say, there are some decidedly unsettling trends in Europe at present.

Euroscepticism, or discontent with the European Union, has allowed many of these parties to make political gains.

Far-right parties with extreme and decidedly xenophobic and racist positions have made gains in France, Germany, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. One might also argue that UKIP, a political party in the United Kingdom that won the European elections, also has racist and xenophobic tendencies.

Xenophobia (Anti-Immigration)

#France deliberately keeps #Roma out of schools. #Romani #Rroma #racism #EU #Europe — יוֹחָנָ (@alders_ledge) August 13, 2014
France's anti-immigration party, the National Front, set to come first in EU elections according to exit polls | — AJELive (@AJELive) May 25, 2014

Anti-immigration sentiment pervades Europe at present. It is part of the agenda of essentially all of the far-right parties.

It's also evident in everyday European life. Recently, a Greek court acquitted Greek farmers that shot 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers. These were migrant workers who simply requested months of backpay that they were owed.

There seems to be a perception among some that immigrants are basically invading Europe, but that is statistically false. According to Pew Research, many Europeans see immigrants as an economic burden, as not assimilating and also blame them for crime.

Racism in Sports

"For years in Europe, racism has been the ugly side of the 'beautiful game" - Bryant Gumbel — HBO (@HBO) May 21, 2014

Indeed, racism is a huge problem in Europe when it comes to football, or soccer.

Players of color are often heckled by fans in Italy and Spain, among other places. Fans have been heard using racist slurs, monkey chants and have even thrown bananas and peanuts at certain players.

Imagine if something like that happened at an NFL game in the United States... There would be riots.

In the video below, a player from the Ivory Coast becomes so fed up with fans in Italy that he understandably picks up the ball and attempts to walk off the field.

This man has even been ridiculed by fans in his own stadium for his race... It's heartbreaking. Sports are meant to breed solidarity, but obviously some people haven't got that message.

Racism in soccer goes to show that discrimination in Europe extends far beyond its politics. It's disgusting that this still happens in the present-day, but at least there are some people who are able to take it in stride...

Early this year, Dani Alves, a Brazilian who plays for Barcelona, had a banana thrown at him by a fan. His reaction was priceless, and sparked a social media campaign #SayNoToRacism...


Obsessive Gaza coverage is fanning antisemitism | Eylon Aslan-Levy via @guardian — per arne granbo (@thaigranbo) August 13, 2014
In other parts of the world, the antisemitism in Europe makes me incredibly sad and has totally rocked my world view. — Whitley Abell (@whitleyabell) August 12, 2014

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. This is reminiscent of the Holocaust, which makes it particularly disconcerting and terrifying. Much of this sentiment is derived from the current situation in Gaza, but that does not justify blatant acts of hatred.

Very recently, there have been incidents in multiple European countries, including Germany, in which mobs have attacked Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues and businesses. In one instance, a synagogue in France was firebombed by a mob of over 400 people.

Clearly, racism and discrimination are not unique to any single country or region. Oppression is a global problem that we must all address in unison.

In this globalized world, it is inevitable that we will all find ourselves in more diverse societies, and it's imperative that we learn to live together.

We are all human, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. It is a shame that we are still dealing with problems surrounding racism across the globe.

Until more of us realize that we are meant to share this world, and that race is ultimately superficial, it seems that this madness may continue. The battle against intolerance is fundamental to the survival and progression of humanity, and we must all strive to join this fight.

Top Photo Credit: Weston Green