Charlotte Nzimiro launched the ongoing petition against the scandalous judgement of the State Constitutional Court of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), de facto recognising that the word “Neger” (Engl. Nigger, Negro) could be used to describe people of African descent in Germany.
Nzimiro’s petition, launched on 20 December and which has already gathered more than 42,000 signatures within 2 days, calls for the N-Word to be legally acknowledged as racist. The petition is addressed to the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the State Constitutional Court (Landesverfassungsgericht) of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In this open letter, Charlotte Nzimiro, an Afro-German activist, explains why the N-Word is so offensive and what it means to live with it in Germany against the background of its history.
By Charlotte Nzimiro (Hamburg, Germany )
Ever since I can remember, people like me get called: Ne*roes, Ni**ers or M**rs. Words with history.
And now the constitutional court in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with its incomprehensible judgement has given racism in Germany a further opportunity to develop!
The judges decided that the word “Neger” (Engl.: Negro) is not always racist and could also be used in non-negative ways.
Not a single Black person was in this court to decide what we as affected persons may consider racist and what not. A room full of old white men.
“I am not your Ne*ro, M**r, Ne*ro kisses, Ni**er, Ne*ro…”
All these words and sentences have no place in a supposedly enlightened Germany and show the still deeply-rooted and accepted racism in our society. But yet they still get used by non-Black people in everyday life, like it’s totally normal.
I remember when I was a small child and was first called a “Ne*ro”.
I will never forget this feeling. I felt shabby, worthless, but also helpless. I knew intuitively: That’s not right.
THEN my parents had “The Talk” with me, which probably every Black child has at some point with their parents. They explained to me as gently as possible what racism and discrimination were.
As well as that behind the simple six letters is a very dark history and that there are also people who call themselves Nazis and Racists. They told me that if such a person should come too close to me, I should run away immediately. A few years later this scenario became reality.
Teachers used the word, students used it, strangers on the street called me the N-Word, friends used it, parents of friends used it.
I still get called the N-Word. We all do! We all face racism on a daily basis.
I don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t confronted with this word. It was and still is a constant fight, many discussions and no change.
If you ask someone not to use the word, they react like this:
“It’s just a word”
“It’s just a joke.”
“Ne*er means just black.”
“It’s not offensive!”
“You take it too seriously, calm down!”
“I got a black friend, he doesn’t mind!”
“Black people use that word.”
“What else should I call “THEM”?”
“You’re so sensitive!”
These are just a few statements that I myself get told to my face again and again when I say that the term hurts me and others!
The word has a very dark history for Black People.
During the transatlantic slave trade, the Europeans invented the word, Ne*er. A word created to express that you are a creature without rights. The term established itself as a synonym for Black people.
German colonies in Africa slaughtered Black people, tribes were stirred up against each other (Tutsi and Hutu), raped, mutilated, sold, exploited and all the unforgivable acts that came to their minds.
And they did all this while calling us Ne*er.
About 100,000 Africans were exterminated in concentration camps in Africa by the Germans. About 85,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama.
Among other horrors, they were sent into the desert and they died miserably on death marches!
Where is all this written in our so-called enlightened history books? Not ONE lesson has been dedicated to these topics in my 12 years of school here in Germany. They hide our history.
1520- 1914 (until today): Colonialism to neo-colonialism (for Africa, 1960 is considered the year of the so-called decolonisation)
1904- 1908: The first German genocide against the Herero and Nama
1933- 1945: Black people were also victims of National Socialism.
We as Blacks also have a right to equality and human dignity, which are attacked by this inhuman judgement of the constitutional court in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
To sign the petition, click here