Why are there so many racists
Racism in Germany : Not all lives count alike in this country
a single case:
in November 1990
antonio amadeo from angola
his child a short time later
white german woman
and the police
was there so late
that it was too late
and the newspapers were with their words
that it was like being silent
and no picture on television
about the murder
no comment on the incident:
Lines by the Afro-German activist and poet May Ayim from the poem “Germany in Autumn” from 1992. Ayim describes the murder of Amadeu Antonio. Almost twenty years before the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, she shows how little attention is paid when a black life is taken.
How little public mourning there is and how small the consequences are for the murderers. Bodily harm resulting in death was the verdict. None of the perpetrators got more than four years. Twenty police officers were nearby and did not intervene. None of them had to answer for failure to provide assistance. The outrage? Was there. But “so economical that it was tantamount to silence”.
Do black lives matter? Do Black Lives Matter? Does the death of a black person receive the same attention as that of a white person? And more importantly, are black lives of enough importance that we as a society stand up for them? The goal must be not to grieve more intensely for black lives. But to protect them.
If we are to believe the story that blacks, PoC, migrants and people with a migration background are part of this society, then the majority society has to make more effort here. Nine years after the NSU's self-exposure, months after the attacks in Halle and Hanau, thousands of people affected by racism and their friends and allies take to the streets in Germany to share their anger and sadness over another racist murder.
The racist murders of the 90s shaped my childhood
They lament the death of George Floyd and the circumstances that led to it. And they are able to understand what this murder, which is geographically far away, has to do with us here.
The racist murders of the 90s shaped my childhood. Even if I couldn't place them: For example, I was afraid for my father when he went to work in the East. At the same time I thought that Solingen and Mölln are also in the east. So was the reporting: The topic was not “Racism in Germany”, but “Skinheads in the new federal states”. I didn't even know that I should have been afraid for him all over the place.
It is a fact that not all lives count equally in this country either. It was evident during German colonialism and the Nama and Herero genocide. It was evident during Nazism. It manifested itself in the silence afterwards, the undisturbed careers of former Nazis in the Bonn Republic and the arson attacks in reunified Germany.
When a high-ranking 73-strong delegation from Namibia arrived in 2011, including politicians, bishops and leaders of the Nama and Herero, to collect the skulls of their ancestors, which are still stored at the Charité in Berlin as a result of German colonial crimes, there was no official reception. German politics gave no importance to the remnants of these black lives taken by Germans.
There is a structure behind the deeds
Racism has a long tradition. And he's crawled into every corner of this country. Has stubbornly established itself in all authorities, institutions and brains. Racism is a system that disadvantages and humiliates people who are affected by it. That is why it is inappropriate to keep talking about individual cases or individual perpetrators. We have to stop talking about individual officials making mistakes or individual “mentally confused” gun fools suddenly shooting around.
Behind these acts is a structure that significantly shapes and restricts the lives of black people, PoC and migrants and, in the worst case, leads to us having to fear for our lives. In the racism system, all the discrimination, insults and murders are linked to one another.
Often racism does not appear alone, but together with anti-Semitism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia and trans-hostility, forms a highly dangerous, inhuman worldview.
“What do I tell my son?” Asks a friend on the morning of February 20th, just hours after the racist murders in my hometown Hanau: “And what do I do when he is older: Should I then forbid him to contact migrants? Places because it's too dangerous? And how do I calm my parents down? "
The police are not protection, but danger
What do we say to our children? And how do we talk to our parents about it: Some fled war or terror, others came looking for work or followed a great love. They packed their bags and left what they knew in order to offer us, their children, a better life. They have come to this cold country and find that their children are not safe here either. How do people grow up who find out over and over again that their lives are worth less?
Anyone who grows up with the fact that the black father is constantly checked when he is out in the car and the white mother not, quickly realizes that something is wrong. Anyone who was born in Germany, only got top marks from German lessons and is harshly pampered by the police for the first time at 15 or 16: “You speak German? Papers! Papers! ”... it quickly becomes clear that the police are not protection, but danger.
In Germany, too, black people die from the police. Oury Jalloh was burned in a police cell in Dessau. Christy Schwundeck was shot dead by a policewoman in a job center in Frankfurt. The Oury Jalloh Initiative has been fighting for education for 15 years. It was not the authorities, but relatives and activists who fought for the reports that prove that Jalloh did not set himself on fire as claimed, but that the fire was started by a third party. The authorities are walling up.
How German should we still be?
Education and justice do not seem to matter much in the Oury Jalloh case. On the contrary: In Germany there is no independent body to which one can report police violence or other misconduct by police officers. Organizations like the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland have been calling for this for a long time. Because the investigation of the crimes committed by police officers must not be left to the police. When people affected by racism are in public places, they can always count on being checked by the police. On trains, at stations, in shisha bars and in parks. Even when grilling. How German should we still be?
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George Floyd's murder was videotaped. A person's last words shouldn't go on the internet: The world shouldn't watch anyone die. Nobody should see this desperation. The asking. The fear of death. The video evidence shows that no one can pretend something like this isn't happening. As if those affected were just imagining it. I don't want to watch black people die anymore. Not suffocated or shot by police officers. Not drowning by the EU border regime in the Mediterranean.
Black Lives Matter means that my life is protected just like that of others. It is said that black people's murders will be solved. It is said that everyone can rest assured that bystanders will not look away when someone is attacked.
That the police do not put black people and people of color under general suspicion. That a shisha bar is no more dangerous place than a cocktail bar. That believers can be just as relaxed in a mosque and synagogue as they are in a church. It means that politics works for the safety of all, instead of further discussing what migrants have to do in order to belong. And that we end dying in the Mediterranean!
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