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Black Like Me, Black Identity in a Race Conscious Europe

Rashad A. Baadqir

Background behind the Book and the Topic title

My interest in Racial and Cultural Studies comes from my extensive background in Sociology and Human Resources/Diversity management.

My book was written to provide and raise a critical dialogue to serious issues of importance, to tell a story, and develop broader cultural understanding about racial issues in Europe.

My approach was to examine what I see as a Browning of Europe, a Europe that today that is emerging as a Europe of more black and brown people. In examining this issue, I also had to examine the apparent paradox between Europe's ongoing plans for integration, and the continent's enduring cultural, political, and economic diversity.

Looking at contemporary issues and setting them in a historical context, my focus was to illustrate how racial diversity has always been a principle characteristic of European society, and explore the reasons in which nationalism and the nation-state emerged as one means of controlling that homogeneity.

I do this from both personal and professional experiences. The assessment is that Europe’s racial and cultural outlook is changing and in the decades to come will Blacks and other non-white Europeans will have a stronger role in the future of Europe to fill employment voids and population shortages, as well as understand that it is a multicultural village of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural communities. My analysis draws on what currently is happening with this understanding, how are the various nation state cultures responding, and what does it say for the future.

The reason I decided to write a book that focuses on race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in Europe was to examine and respond with my own experience and expertise as to what the racial, religious, and other cultural trends means for Europe and how are they affecting large segments of European society today. The title “Browning of Europe” is the description of how a once-dominant white Europe is slowly but surely changing in its racial, ethnic, religious and cultural composition.

Black Identity and Color Coding

There is much that can be said about Black Identity in Europe and how that identity has affected the image of a people. Within our historical legacy we have seen labels of identity being placed upon Black immigrants to Europe almost since the day blacks first arrived on the continent, with few of these labels being of our own choosing. From Africans to Afro-Europeans, the journey of Black European identity is also one of acceptance and assimilation. So what is Black European Identity and why is it important? Is it our state of being, our cultural consciousness, our race, our history, our past, our present, our future, or is it who we have become and who we are.

Black European Identity is a message to the world. To understand it is to understand Europe. Because of it black and white Europeans need a honest dialogue about race, culture, and co-existence.
Historically, Europe and its people are among the most written about and discussion study subjects of academia life. Yet, the identity of Europe, in particular a modern Western Europe, has continued to remain largely evasive of the existence and contributions of people of color. Black and brown people are in the forefront of the cultural change that is happening in Europe. Likewise, the African continent and its populations share in being widely written about nevertheless the least understood of all of the world's people.

This condition state of Black European identity in some sense can be traced to the early Spanish-Moor civilization. A period in which that seemingly revolutionalized the continent off the banks of the dark ages into 15th and 16TH centuries conquests to exploit the trans-Atlantic slave trade of black African people across Europe, and North and South America. Subsequent colonial rule led to changes in how Africans and black people were viewed and identified themselves. African identity became Black and Mulatto identity in the lenses of racial socio-political thought.

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