The organisers of the first online anti-Black racism demonstration in Germany have called on people of African descent in the country to make their resistance to racism and discrimination more visible by speaking and sharing about their experiences. Speaking on Saturday during the digital protest action, tagged ‘Racism in the Era of Coronavirus’ and anchored on YouTube, the moderators said only in making cases of discrimination more visible would society be made more aware of them thereby eliciting action.
The moderators – Emilene Wopana Mudimu and Phyllis Quartey, talked about racist incidents in which the N-word was used against them. Pyliss Quartey is an activist and a feminist who works for the empowerment of African refugees and she narrated the experience of heer son who was racially abused in school by fellow puplils and the refusal of the teaching staff and school administration to protect him. Her efforts made national news as she pin pointed what was wrong about this whole case scenario. The 2-hour long event featured speeches by activists, including Charlotte Nzimiro, who last December launched an online signature campaign for the legal classification of N-word as a racist word in Germany
Nzimiro delivered a moving speech about the motivation for launching her petition which cited the N-word as a racial slur and that it can only be described as insulting depending on the context in which it is employed. She added that the N-word is always an insult aimed at black people and it further seeps into denigrating of people of African descent. The Hamburg-based activist said the roots of the word lay in the history of dehumanisation of Africans during the more than 500 years of the slave trade and colonialism.
Nzimiro cited many words and expressions that are still being used today and which continue to dehumanise Black people. She singled out the word “Mischling” (half-cast) to describe persons of Afro-European parentage. She gave the argument that she is not a half of something and she is not a dog, she is herself, Charlotte. She declared that people of African descent and African people must insist on their right to self-description. Nzimiro admits that in the fight to fight racism we must also fight racist language and in so doing society must become more sensitive in the choice words used to describe black people.
Organised by the Cologne-based group N-Wort Stoppen Initiative, a collaboration of Sonnenblumen Community Development Group e.V, Bündnis14 Afrika and ISD Köln, the digital protest action also addressed the situation of African refugees in Europe, anti-Black racism in China and other topical issues affecting people of African descent.
Social inequality in Germany was also addressed where the wealth of te country is unequally shared with most black people at the bottom of the social ladder and among the most marginalized. They also talked about the appalling situation of hostels for asylum-seekers and refugees where inmates have become especially susceptible to infection by the new coronavirus. They say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more important to decentralise refugees’ housing. Activists have been calling for refugees and asylum-seekers to be accommodated in apartments and not in mass dormitories which violate their dignity even before COVID-19 outbreak.
The moderators said the corona crisis was being instrumentalised to further discriminate Black people across the world. Videos showing racist incidents involving Black people in China were screened, such as where Africans were disallowed from entering supermarkets, refused service at food stalls or ordered to vacate their apartments. The moderators made it clear that while they condemned the appalling treatment of Africans in China, they also disapproved the stereotyping of Asians as a result of the pandemic.