Friday, March 9, 2012

Video clip by European Union sparks racism row

In Europe, it is no secret that people of color belonging to minority groups are commonly blamed for crime, violence and other things that go wrong in the continent, by a growing number of individuals who see anything "foreign" or "different" as a threat to European culture and way of life. Many migrants from emerging or less developed economies bear the brunt of racism, xenophobia and stigmatization on a daily basis. Despite all odds, the European Union (EU) and its institutions, such as the European Commission are doing a noticeable job to promote respect for human rights, freedom, equality and diversity in the continent. But a recent video released by the Directorate General (DG) for Enlargement, a department of the European Commission, has sparked a racism row and outrage.

The "EU propaganda film", as the video is called, shows a Caucasian woman "attacked" by men belonging to some minority groups in Europe. The video, which was reportedly intended to show Europe as a force for peace and to attract new countries to join the EU, has come under fire. [Source]. Viewers have slammed it as "racist, sexist and imperialist". Some have branded it "distasteful" and "supremacist".

The controversial clip can be interpreted in many ways, but either way - believe it or not - it portrays non-Europeans as violent and aggressive. The woman in the video visibly represents a calm, non-violent and peaceful Europe while her visibly non-European "attackers" represent a "threat" that European countries must unite to neutralize.

A bunch of producers in Hollywood who thrive on reinforcing stereotypes in movies could get away with such a video that depicts individuals representing people of African decent, Asians and Indians as the "bad guys", but in matters related to the way people or groups of people are portrayed, the European Commission knows better and must be held to higher standards.

Following the racism row that followed the release of the video, DG for Enlargement released a statement that it has decided to stop the campaign and withdraw the video.

Given the EU's commitment and efforts to promote human rights, equality and diversity in Europe, I agree with Stefano Sannino, Director General of DG Enlargement, that the clip was not intended to be racist. However, there is no denying that the video reinforces stereotypes and prejudice.

Shout out to Afro-Europe International Blog for bringing this story to my attention.

 *Photo: Daily Mail.

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