This month our chart of the month looks at some aspects of discrimination on the basis of race across some European countries.
First of all it is as well to say that evaluating discrimination is not the easiest of tasks. Much discrimination is hidden in everyday small actions by millions of individuals. Many incidents go unreported.
The EU publishes five-yearly evaluations in its ‘Being Black in the EU’ reports. Our chart of the month picks one measure – ‘Overall prevalence of discrimination’. Other measures evaluated can be looked at in the full reports for 2016 and 2022 surveys.
As can be seen from the chart, reported discrimination remains widespread across many countries. In a number of the countries surveyed, discrimination seems to be on the increase. Overall, across the countries surveyed, the 2022 survey reports that the 12-month prevalence of racial discrimination increased by 10 percentage points from 2016.
The five-year prevalence of discrimination across all areas of life increased by 6 percentage points.
This over a period of time when we had the Black Lives Matter movement. Footballers routinely take the knee before matches to assert that discrimination has no place in football. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programmes are widespread across corporations.
Legislation and regulation has been introduced in an attempt to counter discrimination in many countries. Other developments, such as a perception of poorly controlled immigration, may, on the other hand, end up contributing to increased discriminatory behaviour.
We can all be saddened, outraged even, by these findings. It is tempting to place the burden of driving change on governments. The report of the 2022 survey itself suggests: “EU Member States should improve the effectiveness of regulatory measures and institutional arrangements established to enforce anti-discrimination legislation.” All very well until one recalls Walter Bagehot’s statement that “One can’t make men good by Act of Parliament.”
The reality is that change depends on each and every one of us, how we ourselves behave and how we react when we observe instances of discrimination.
Hiding behind ‘the government must do something’ is an abrogation of our own personal responsibilities.
It’s a long and bumpy road and we each have our role to play.