Hello and welcome back!
In this blog I want to describe how I personally see and experience the relations between Black people in Germany and non-Black people of color.
One of the biggest communities of color in Germany are Turkish communities. As Black people do the Turkish community experience a big amount of discrimination and racism. For example a former finance senator of Berlin (T. Sarrazin) wrote a book in which he shames and “scientifically proves”, why Turkish people should have a lower IQ and that this is connected to Islam and their culture. Germany got internationally criticized for this waste of paper and the fact, that this was one of the bestselling books after World War II truly exposes the average white German mind. Also Germany showed itself totally incapable to manage the racist debates, which erupted right afterwards, though it were Turkish and Arab immigrants, who rebuilt all the German cities after the war. The PEGIDA demonstrations in 2014/2015, in which ten thousands of angry white men (and I have to admit: a tiny group of self hating Blacks as well ) “protested” against Islam and against the people they label as Muslims were a new climax on anti Islamic (and therefore mostly anti brown) racism in Germany. To summarize: non-Black people of color experience a lot of racism in Germany.
And though to a certain point I envy them for their position. How can I envy a group of people, who also so often even get shamed in the media? It’s simple: They’re visible – and also feared. And as most of them probably would not understand my envy: When you’re visible you get recognized, sometimes feared and therefore to some (limited) point even respected. Black people know what it means when you’re kept invisible. When you’re invisible nothing of your struggles gets seen, recognized and respected in the public – and nothing of you matters. People can do what they want with you. The police or average racist white men can do what ever violence they want to do with you since if you’re Black in Germany you probably won’t even find someone to exchange your experience with. White people don’t identify with you or your problems and if you’re Black in this situation you probably dónt find the strength, to fight against a state, who claims, that your experience is a most individual and unique one and especially your own fault. When a German official institution wrote a report about racism, Jews, Roma, Arab and Turkish people were mentioned as victims, but not Black people as we don’t get mentioned as inmates in the concentration camps either, though thousands of us have been killed during the nazi regime. So even if the picture of Turkish and Arab people and Islam created in the media is bad, it exists, as also voices, who speak up for them.
From my non Jewish perspective I think Germanies institutions are sensitive concerning the hate towards jews – maybe not as sensitive as they should, but they do. The politicians as also the government learned from the German history in this case and show a sensitivity towards jews, they don’t show for brown, not to mention Black people. This does not mean, that the average people are sensitive concerning the hate towards jews (which they call anti semitism, like only jews are semits) in the same way but officials and media react quite alarmed, when a case of hate towards jews gets reported.
Many non-Black and Black people of color in Germany are still desperately trying to become recognised as Germans. Though many of them have a German passport they though get discriminated and they don’t understand, that racism and the problem of not belonging in a society is not only bound to only passports. So like it is with everybody who desperately tries to become loved and liked by the oppressor they don’t have a critical eye for the mistreatement and racism they experience and they internalize it again and again – and from my experience non-Black people of color unleash much of this internalized racism towards us Blacks and pass the aggression and violence down in the unsaid racial hierarchy. Also non-Black people of color steal Black culture. The hip-hop culture in Germany is not halfway as big as in the US, but it exists and it is dominated by non-Black people of color, while the music itself and all the fashion trends connected to it are (or at least were for decades) predominantly elements taken out of Black cultures in the US like clothing brands (FUBU), wide colorful clothing, sagging pants, etc. Yes, there are also Black German hip-hop legends like AfroB, Samy Deluxe, Matondo, D-Flame or Torch but except for Samy Deluxe they hardly dominated the German hip hop, especially financially. To me non-Black people of color stole Black culture and got successful with it at least inside Germany. Also the expression “brother” – which is an expression of connection and solidarity in resistance is often used by nonblack people of color towards Black people and between them, though it is a Black expression of solidarity. When they use the term sister,* or brother for Black people they behave like we are all the same. This would be great, but on the meantime with these expressions they simply deny and don’t take responsability for the racial hierarchy, which definitely exists between us and them. On the other hand: When it comes to Black issues I hardly see non-Black people of color on demonstrations or actions for Black people.
I make about between 30 and 50% of all the racist experiences with non-Black people of color. This percentage is on one side so high, because I live in the more diverse areas of Berlin, on the other hand because the majority of non-Black people of color don’t reflect racism but rather tends to kick down in the racial hierarchy, while they steal our culture. Yes, there are activists and scholars like Mutlu Ergün-Hamaz or the one member of the German parliament Özcan Mutlu, who seem to have understood much about their position in the racial hierarchy and show solidarity for Black issues, but like with white people they are a small minority inside of the racist non-Black people of color group. When I leave my house and go on the street the only difference in my personal experience with non-Black people of color and white people is, that if non-Black people of color are nice, they are much nicer then white people, but if they are bad, they can also be much worse. Especially Black women have it really hard because of the street harassment not only from white men, but also from a high percentage non-Black men of color (but shamefully also Black men).
I see this racist division between Blacks and non-Black people of color as implemented by white Germany itself and it becomes most obvious in the current incapability of a decent treatment of the incoming hundreds of thousands of refugees. While there suddenly is a huge wave of solidarity for the Syrian refugees, container villages are suddenly built out of nowhere , empty buildings are suddenly prepared to host people and the German government suddenly thinks even about changing its constitution to the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria it’s on the meantime though planning to build its deportation camps right in Libya – the country, where the refugees are predominantly African refugees, and where Germany still pays money to deport or keep African the refugees out of Europe – money for people like in colonialism and the enslavement. African refugees have tried to reach Europe for decades and Europe let them drown in the middle sea for decades and they were kept invisible or only seen as a problem. One of the biggest and political refugee protests at Oranienplatz (Berlin) was led by predominantly African refugees to break their invisibility and nobody except a tiny handful of radical left-wing activist thought about actually helping and supporting them. Now suddenly, when the refugees are not Black any more Germany discovers it’s solidarity. A picture from the Syrian toddler created an outcry around the world, while nobody reports about all the dead Black toddlers and people on Italys and Lybias coasts who get found there since decades. Germany itself creates and maintains this division between the value of the lives and of course non-Black people of colour immediately understand nonverbally what their position in this racial hierarchy is. They would not treat us the way they do if white people would not just tolerate but confirm it.
In the younger generations between 15 and 20 years there sometimes there sometimes seem to form some alliances between Blacks and non-Black poc, but I don’t think they reflect the general relations between Black people and non-Black poc as I also don’t believe, that those alliance are free of hierarchies.
To summarise the racism in Germany I’d like to rise a simple example, of which I recognize , that it might get seen as controversial and might not reflect the opinion of the majority of Black people or non-Black poc in Germany, but to me it illustrates very clear as I see the situation:
- If a white man in Germany gets murdered, it is immediately recognised as murder and the police also immediately investigates in all directions with full commitment.The murderer could have been anyone.
- When a non-Black person of color , for example a member of the Turkish community gets murdered the police only investigates inside the Turkish community, because they deny the very high probability, that it could have been a racist murder. This is one of the reasons, why the NSU scandal could have happened. There a neo nazi trio murdered 10 non-Black men of color in Germany over a long time period and the police did not investigate outside of the Turkish communities, but rather criminalized them, until the whole thing got uncovered, lead to many bad surprises and revealed much of Germanies unwillingness to investigate concerning white terrorism.
- If a Black person gets murdered they even deny the fact, that it was a murder like in the case of the brothers Oury Jalloh or Khaled Idris Bahray, but label it as suicide or accident. In the case of Oury Jalloh even the highest German court still believes, that a Black refugee, who was unconscious and fixed on arms and feet set himself on fire on a fireproof mattress without a fire lighter. Germany…
So, the hierarchy exists and gets poorly deconstructed and analysed by anyone. For my self protection does this lead to my three mandatory requirements for seeing non-Black people of color as potential allies:
- If a non-Black person, white or of color wants to team up with me or be a friend of mine the person needs to prove, that the person is not anti-Black racist and that the person has critically reflected their position in the racist hierarchy. Most Non-Black people of color would claim to not be anti-Black racist, but my experience teaches me otherwise.
- Non-Black people of color must give back the stolen (hip hop-) cultures, refer in a respectful way to their Black origins and create their own subculture of resistance, instead of appropriating ours.
- (Important:) Non-Black people of color also need to critically reflect the relations between their original cultures and Black people (Arab slave trade, Chinas neo colonial behaviour,…) and deconstruct this as well it in their own communities to be safe allies for Black people.
These are my core demands, before I am willing to ally on a general basis and we are far away from that state. I have no resentments or prejudices towards non-Black people of color, nor do I have special feelings towards them as a group as diverse as totally diverse as this group is. But I care most about myself and my people – the people who are for me the most beautiful, most powerful and therefore also the most hated people on earth.
I am sorry if this blog somehow became again a long list of negative aspects, but to give a ruthless analysis of the situation of Black people inGermany one needs to address the problems without hesitating. What are my priorities after the fact, that non-Black people of color nearly treat us like white people treat us? My personal priorities are only my people, Africans and/or Black people all over the world. Though I also have a small bunch of white friends and mates Black people are the only people, that matter to me as a group and here the Black German communities are the people, who are great for me and good for my soul. We are not a paradise, but to me our small safe space seems like little paradises to me with only beautiful people in it. In the very tiny but quite political communities in Berlin I can think free, talk open, be stupid and learn on a much more dignified base, because the people I learn from are the most loving teachers in my life.
I finished this blog after having had two wonderful evenings with a blast of conversations with Black friends – healing conversations! Especially as an ADHD/ Aspie it took me very long time to find some good people in Berlin but right at this moment it seems like I have found some. *feels good and happy* 🙂