Let´s talk about racism @ UniStuttgart

1. Definitions

Racism: There is not the one correct definition for it. Here are now three different definitions. All of them show that racism is not simply a distinction based on skin color, but rather an associated thought construct according to one group of people being superior to another.

Cambridge Dictionary:

  1. policies, behaviours, rules, etc. that result in a continued unfair advantage to some people and unfair or harmful treatment of others based on race :
    The authorities are taking steps to combat/fight/tackle racism in schools.
    The report made it plain that institutional racism (= racism in all parts of an organization) is deep-rooted in this country.
     
  2. harmful or unfair things that people say, do, or think based on the belief that their own race makes them more intelligent, good, moral, etc. than people of other races :

The research found that half of the refugees had encountered racism since entering the country.
She said that she had experienced some overt racism first-hand.
He wanted to show what it felt like to be the subject of casual racism.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance defines racism as “the belief that a ground such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin justifies contempt for a person or a group of persons, or the notion of superiority of a person or a group of persons.”.

Sociologist Albert Memmi (general definition adopted in racism research)
“Racism is a generalising definition and valuation of differences, whether real or imaginary, to the advantage of the one defining or deploying them [accusateur], and to the detriment of the one subjugated to the act of definition [victime], whose purpose is to justify (social or physical) hostility and assault [aggression].”

  • Black people is a self-designation and describes a social position affected by racism. “Black is capitalized in order to make it clear that it is a constructed pattern of assignment and not a ‘real’ characteristic’, which is due to the colour of the skin. Thus, being black in this context does not mean being assigned to an actual or assumed ‘ethnic group’, but is also connected with the shared experience of racism, to be perceived in a certain way. https://www.amnesty.de/2017/3/1/glossar-fuer-diskriminierungssensible-sprache
  • Like “being black”, “white” and “whiteness” do not denote a biological characteristic or real skin colour, but rather a political and social construction. By whiteness is meant the dominant and privileged position within the power relationship racism, which otherwise remains mostly unspoken and unnamed. Whiteness encompasses an unconscious concept of self and identity that shapes white people in their self-perception and behaviour and refers them to a privileged place in society, e.g. in terms of access to resources. https://www.amnesty.de/2017/3/1/glossar-fuer-diskriminierungssensible-sprache
  • PoC: The term People of Colour (in the Singular Person of Colour) is a self-designation of people who experience racism. https://www.diversity-arts-culture.berlin/woerterbuch/poc-person-color

Of course it would be and rather, we would be already at a point, where, even if with the terms social groups, and no biological attributes are meant, we could manage completely without naming any Differences. But it is difficult to talk about racism without naming the problems that lead to racism.

2. History

The concept of racism is rather young. But what do we actually know about German colonial history or the racist ideologies in the Nazi era? To understand how our thought patterns are also shaped by racist motives it´s important to be aware of the historical context. The following contribution is intended to refresh and supplement history lessons at school:

https://www.youthreporter.eu/de/beitrag/racism-in-germany.14810/

3. Racism or ethnopluralism

By the way, biologically speaking, it is disproved that there exist races among humans. The differences in the genes are far too small for this to be true. The following contribution confirms this: 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/

But new ideologies have long been developed to devalue people ideologically. Ethnicity and culture are used in the new right-wing scene as a reason for the exclusion and humiliation of people. This is summarized under the term ethnopluralism. Which new and old concepts are behind this will be explained in the following article:

https://www.dw.com/en/how-dangerous-is-the-identitarian-movement/a-49580233

4. Racism in Germany and other countries

Yes, Germany is not the USA and racism can manifest itself everywhere else. But what exactly are the differences? Is it due to Germany’s shorter colonial history in comparison to other european countries? Is it the structural racism that is different here? -for example, because the German police have better training for de-escalation. Or is it also because of the way racism is talked about in Germany?

The Federal Agency for Civic Education makes a good contribution to this topic:

https://www.bpb.de/politik/extremismus/rechtsextremismus/213691/warum-ist-es-so-schwer-von-rassismus-zu-sprechen (only in German)

5. Conclusion and why all of us should take racism personally

We make no claim to completeness with this collection of information. Racism is multifaceted in its manifestations. And it hurts the lives of those affected. Therefore, we should all be concerned of racism. Why we should even take racism personally is explained by the human rights organization Amnesty International on its website:

https://www.amnesty.de/2017/3/1/warum-wir-alle-rassismus-persoenlich-nehmen-sollten

A first step to fight racism is to talk about it. We would therefore like to give our students a voice. Under the motto “Let’s talk about Racism@Uni Stuttgart” we share their experiences with racism.

Other platforms are already doing this:

https://afrozensus.de/?lang=en

https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/rassismus-als-bildungsthema-niemand-will-darueber-reden.680.de.html?dram:article_id=478015

https://www.sueddeutsche.de/thema/Alltagsrassismus

https://www.amnesty.de/kampagne-gegen-rassismus-deutschland

Your story

contribution No. 1

I’ve spent a lot of time researching about racism and eugenics. Since my father was born in Turkey, this is a part of my personal story. However my ancestry can only be recognized by my surname, and this is why only my surname is a target for racism and xenophobia.

I was born and grew up in a part of Esslingen. As a small remark on this: there was hardly any real foreign community, until 2015 a home for refugees was opened. Maybe also because of this, I hardly didn´t noticed racism in my community myself until 5 years ago.

But since that home exists, I have to accept that my childhood community is no exception.

Yes, it could be worse – but every single “Schwarzwälder” said is one too much.

And this word and the rumors that every crime in my community has been committed by one of the inhabitants of the home, I had to hear too often.

In this town, however, there are also a lot of people who help the refugees. The local sports club does an enormous amount, and so does the primary school. I would like to take this opportunity to thank these people for their dedication and effort, and I hope that we as a coummunity will find the courage to criticise words like the above-mentioned in public, because only then things can change.

About my personal experiences in my life the following:

I have never really realised racism in that specific moment as racism – or xenophobia. But this is also because my appearance does not allow for any xenophobic or racist attacks. I simply look the way people in Germany and abroad imagine a “German” to look like.

Not in the secondary school, where my class teacher, amusingly enough, wanted to attribute an apparent misconduct to my existing migration background, nor really when my religion teacher started to riot against Islam on a grand scale.  As a note for you: I am not a Muslim, so the failures of my former religion teacher were so bad that you could see through the nonsense even without much knowledge about this religion and feel it as shocking. As a child and also as an adolescent, I think, I didn’t really perceive the whole thing as what it is: racist and xenophobic.

The first time I experienced racism I was calm in the first moment, but in the second moment I realized what was behind it:

Besides my studies I work with customer contact, mainly by phone and e-mail. Recently we received an e-mail as an answer from a customer, in which he stated that he had spoken to a Mr. “Yandöner”.

My last name is Yandemir.

At first, I laughed about it, but then I realized that this person actually did nothing else than putting the biggest cliché about Turkish people in Germany into my name, a fact that made me contemplate. A fact, that in my opinion, can neither be an unfortunate coincident nor simple misunderstanding.

The whole thing happened half a year ago.

I don’t want to dramatize the whole thing, I think there are a lot of groups all over the world who have to experience much worse things because of this remnant of the early modern times.

But if we, as a society, can’t even manage to accept families that are part of our society in third, fourth or even soon fifth generation without maintaining such statements or views, how are we going to learn to accept people who are, in the opinion of many, “not like us”?

First Post from 2nd October 2020

contribution No. 2

I come from China. Racism against Chinese is not a new thing. A few weeks ago I met a racist in Stuttgart. He attacked me and the reason is simply “Corona”. He annoyed me a lot. But I held myself back. Fortunately, a boy helped me. He called the police and we stopped the racist together.

After this experience I ask myself, should I call the man a “German” and simply say that the Germans are all racists? No! The german boy helped me and a german lady volunteered as a witness. I think that exactly this kind of Self-asking makes a difference between me and racist.

People love prejudice, just as people love to do bad things. Beating people, ranting, smoking… is easy. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to be able to rant and rave.

It is the same with racism. You only need to know: ‘Chinese people eat dogs’, ‘All Chinese are sneaky’… Someone says ‘That’s how the Chinese are (etc.)’, others say ‘Yes, that´s how it is’ -a typical scene.

I believe that the key is ‘communication’. My first master semester in Germany was a pity last SoSe, so to say. I hope more courses will be possible in the next semester. It would also be nice if we students from different countries could talk openly about racism. At the very least you have to avoid racism at university as much as possible.

Post from 9th October 2020

contribution No. 3

What does it mean to grow up as a black girl in Germany?

This question can´t be explained in a short Instagram Post. One student took the time to write down her experiences in a small book.

Let us tell you: the university is experienced as a more diverse and open place than for example kindergarten or school by her. It is good to know we are not starting from nothing on our way to a university without racism. But read yourself.

Let´s talk about racism 16th October 2020: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGZ2UL_sdA6/