Racism towards Black people is more prevalent in Germany than any other EU state

Racism towards Black people is more prevalent in Germany than any other EU state

A new study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has revealed that Black Germans experience racism more regularly than in any other EU country.

Racism towards Black Germans is now more frequent

The latest FRA report, Being Black in the EU – Experiences of people of African descent, has revealed that more Black people in Germany and Austria have experienced racism in the past year than in any other EU country.

Responding to the study’s questionnaire, which was filled out by 6.752 people of African descent in EU countries, one-third of people said that they had experienced racism in the past 12 months. In Germany however, this figure rose to 64 percent, double the number that reported such discrimination when the survey was last done six years previously.

Germany was also the country where the largest percentage of respondents said that they have experienced racism in the past five years - a total of 76 percent. For 54 percent, racist harassment was part of this, making Germany the country in Europe where Black people are most likely to be the target of racist harassment and also one of the three countries where Black people are most worried about being targeted.

For respondents who said they avoided certain shops, cafes or public transport because they were worried about being targeted, the largest proportion (30 percent) were those living in Germany, closely followed by Finland and Ireland.

Public transport in Germany is also the place where respondents said they were most likely to be targeted by the police, and Germany was the EU country where the highest percentage of respondents (57) said that they had been stopped by the police in the past five years.

When it comes to reporting these instances, most respondents across the EU also said that they thought their efforts would be futile. In Germany, just 9 percent said they had reported an incident of racism that they had experienced in the previous 12 months, with the majority believing that “nothing would happen or change by reporting discrimination”. 


Image credit: penofoto /

Racism is baked into Germany’s education, employment and housing systems

As well as more visible forms of racism like street harassment or police profiling, the FRA report revealed just how baked-in racism is to Germany’s socioeconomic systems, such as education, employment, housing and health.

For young Black people educated in the German school system, discrimination begins early on. 38 percent of parent respondents said that someone at their child’s school had made offensive or threatening comments to their child in person because of their ethnic or immigrant background. In comparison to other EU countries, Black people make up a smaller proportion of the general population, but overall, one-quarter of people in Germany now have a migration background.

When it comes to working life, Germany was second in the top three countries where the largest percentage of Black people (53 percent) said that they had experienced racism in the job application process in the past five years. Another hurdle for first-generation migrants, Germany was also the top country where language proficiency was associated with higher incomes.

With a large proportion of Black people living in rented and state-subsidised housing across the EU, rather than buying a home, the population are more vulnerable to the instabilities of Germany’s current housing crisis, the worst the country has faced in the past 20 years. Compared to 11 percent of the general population, 53 percent of Black people in Germany said that they live in overcrowded housing.

ISD responds to FRA report on deep-rooted racism in the EU

"This should be a wake-up call for us all," the Initiative Schwarzer Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative of Black People in Germany, ISD) said in a press response shared with IamExpat. For Black people looking for support or advice in Germany, the ISD is one of the oldest and largest such organisations in the country, with offices and meeting groups across 10 German cities.

Racism "permeates our institutions, our laws and our society" and while these forms of discrimination are more subtle, the organisation said that "they are no less harmful".

"It is time that Germany and other EU countries took measures to fight against racism towards Black people. This requires a broad societal debate, involving those affected in the process of shaping policy, strengthening laws against racism and training the police and institutions to eliminate racist practices. [...] [This is] a question of human rights - and thus a foundation for our democratic polity," the ISD urged.

Thumb image credit: Peeradontax /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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