Can't we just stop racism
theme - integration
People of Color are repeatedly confronted with racism in their everyday lives in Germany. Everyday racism can be constant police checks, discrimination when looking for a job and apartment, but also supposedly innocent statements. The question of the “real” origin or the supposed compliment “You speak German well” to people who grew up here. This may convey to those affected: You are different from most of the people, you don't really belong here.
It is difficult for those affected to prove that they were treated differently for racist reasons. It is particularly difficult if the statements or actions were not meant to be malicious, but were unintentionally hurtful. How can those affected react? We asked people how they deal with everyday racism - as victims or allies.
"When I answer in Bavarian, you flinch, sometimes you apologize for what you said."
Fadi N. *, kiosk owner
I used to work as an electrician. One of my colleagues came from Bavaria. We talked Bavarian together for fun. In doing so, I noticed that I can acquire German dialects very easily. I speak Bavarian, Swabian and Hamburgisch best, but I also spontaneously parrot all possible dialects. For a while I used them to protect myself against racist remarks in everyday life.
Especially here in the store I am often confronted with unpleasant situations: people treat me condescendingly or reduce me to my appearance. When I answer in Bavarian, they flinch, sometimes they apologize for what they say. We are all the same, I want to show people that.
At some point I had a problem with always speaking in dialects, because then I was playing something for people and hiding my identity. That is a facade, with which one does not get any further. If people have a problem with where I come from, I have to tell them what's going on. So I started arguing again. If I argue intelligently, I may be able to get them to question their behavior. Often people want to teach me and say something like "We are here in Germany ...". Then I reply: "I've lived here for 40 years, you don't need to tell me where I am."
"When white people address racism, they are more likely to be perceived as objective, while those affected are perceived as emotional."
Arpana Berndt, author and student
Whenever I experience or observe everyday racism, I want to say something, but I don't necessarily want to be the center of attention or get into trouble. I write about my everyday racist experiences on my Instagram account. In doing so, I shift it a bit outward: It's no longer just about me, but about a problem that exists in Germany. For example, I've written a multi-part series on why I use the term "white man" or why there is no racism against whites.
Once a lecturer in a seminar used racist foreign names without comment. In response to my comment that we cannot use such terms without reflection, he stalled the conversation and claimed that it was purely a sensibility to have a problem with it. When white people address racism, they are more likely to be perceived as objective, while those affected are perceived as emotional.
I want to discuss the specific situation with people, but most of the conversations are always fundamental discussions. I have to keep repeating myself and can't make any progress myself. On Instagram, I can speak any way I want without a white person slipping in and determining the course of the conversation.
"Their origin, their appearance, their skin color and religiousness are perceived as a handicap that the school has to compensate for."
Anwar M. *, elementary school teacher
I am a class teacher in a class in which all children have an immigrant background. Many teachers react to this as follows: The children should just not be overwhelmed, we have to reward every little learning success. Behind this is the attitude that children and adolescents with a migration background are born and grow up virtually disabled. Their origin, their appearance, their skin color and religiousness are perceived as a handicap that the school has to compensate for.
I do it the other way around: I evaluate them very strictly in class. As soon as you are out of the school system, you will notice that you are being looked at more closely and that you will need a lot of nerve and perseverance.
As a teacher of color, I need them too. My colleagues constantly take the right to evaluate my lessons. You look into my classroom as you pass and tell the school management, for example, that I would ask too much of my students. As a Muslim teacher, I am closely watched by the college. From my example, the children see that not all Arabs are gangsters as they are on television, but that you can work out a position with a lot of patience.
"If I come in from the outside, the situation changes because the person who is being controlled is no longer isolated."
Caren M. *, journalist and social media editor
I lived in Hamburg on St. Pauli and watched how masses of black men were checked by the police without suspicion. I never knew how to deal with it because these are threatening situations and the police outnumber them. So I took part in a workshop of the Campaign for Victims of Racist Police Violence (KOP). I wanted to learn what rights I have, what rights those affected have and how I can intervene without it getting worse for everyone.
I especially remembered that you shouldn't intervene without first asking the person concerned. So you shouldn't go there and do something “white savior”, but always ask people first: “Do you want support?” A second important point: don't offend! Insulting the police can increase aggression towards the controlled person.
When I come in from the outside, the situation changes because the person being controlled is no longer isolated. The hierarchy between the controlled person and the passers-by is broken. The police should also notice that their fingers are being watched.
* The last names are known to us, but were anonymized at the request of the interviewees.
Illustrations: Frank Höhne
This text was published under the license CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE. The photos may not be used.
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