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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchWhat Black America means to Europe

What Black America means to Europe

Author: Gary Younge

Affiliation: Manchester University.

Organization/Publisher: The Guardian

Date/Place: June 11, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Essay

Word Count: 3420


Keywords: Europe, Black, White Supremacy, America, racism, colonial past, racist history


The author is critical of the assumption that the situation is better for Black people in Europe than in the US. This assumption, according to him, ignores the fact that Europe has a colonial past and its racism persists to the present. This identification of Europeans with Black Americans has a complex history and is mostly from internationalism and anti-racism traditions of the European left. The author points to the inferiority complex of Europeans who seek to balance their military and economic weakness in comparison with America by leveraging moral confidence, but this ignores both its colonial past and racist present. The author stresses that the killing of George Floyd is not received as a murder but as a metaphor. Police killings are a constant problem in the US, but Floyd’s murder was seen as confirmation of the injustice of the broader political period led by Donald Trump. According to the author, this “illustrates the resurgence of nativist violence blessed with the power of the state and emboldened from the highest office.” Furthermore, the author emphasizes that Europe and America have similarities in the history of racism but a pertinent difference is that Europe practiced racism outside its border—but the US internalized it. The resistance of racism happened abroad in colonial areas. In the post-colonial period, denial and ignorance of this history took over. This has especially been the case in the UK, described by George Orwell as hypocritical, as from many surveys conducted the respondents could not name the colonies. Lastly, the author highlights the other problem Europe faces, namely the fascism which appears to be once again the mainstream ideology. Openly racist parties and figures are framing policy and debate even when they are not in power. Many deny the existence of racism in their country.

By: Leyla Yildirim, CIGA Senior Research Associate .



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