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Protesters in Hamburg, rallying against the N-word, in February 2020/Photo: Screenshot

Germany’s Black community holds online demonstration against racism

Black and anti-racism organisations will on 23 May hold an online demonstration against the word “neger” (subsequently referred to as N-word in this report). The event, titled “Rassismus in Zeiten von Corona” (Racism in the Era of Corona), is the continuation of the nation-wide protest movement to draw attention to the still prevalent use of the denigrating word to describe people of African descent in Germany.

Organised by the Cologne-based group N-Wort Stoppen Initiative in collaboration with Sonnenblumen Community Development Group e.V, Bündnis14 Afrika and ISD Köln, the digital protest action will also address the situation of African refugees in Europe, anti-Black racism in China and other topical issues affecting people of African descent.

The online demonstration will take place at 2 pm on Saturday, 23 May at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi1eKZCSyPgAx-dTRl6Zt1g

“Confrontations with the N-word are part of everyday life for Black people in Germany. In 2019, Each One anti-discrimination centre documented multiple incidents of discrimination in which the N-word played a role. It shows how closely racist insult and treatment are entangled. It’s high time to go on the (digital) road to stop the N-word!” Each One Teach One (EOTO e.V.) said in a statement supporting the event.

“Each One documented 113 cases of anti-Black racism in the areas of work, housing, education, public space, police and much more in 2019,” the Black education and empowerment organisation added.

A petition campaign “Rechtliche Anerkennung dass der Begriff „Neger“ rassistisch ist!”, initiated by Hamburg-based Charlotte Nzimiro (pictured), has meanwhile gathered more than 125,000 signatures. She is billed to make a presentation at the digital protest event/Photo: Charlotte Nzimiro

 

“Racial insults occurred in 20 of these cases; in 10 of them the N-word. Students are affected in seven of these incidents. In schools, in particular, it becomes clear that the N-wort does not remain verbal insult, but that it is usually derogatory and racist treatments follow,” EOTO, which organised the first People of African Descent Week in Germany last November, reported.

“This year, too, we are aware of incidents in which the N-word has been used. The lack of awareness pervades all areas of life. It is often difficult for Black people to defend themselves against it without playing down their concerns or even being hostile to them,” said Céline Barry, who advises Black people in discrimination cases for EOTO.

Promo-Video for the event

Jeff Kwasi Klein, who documents cases of anti-Black racism in Berlin for EOTO, says: “For over 500 years, this word has been the basis for the historic dehumanisation of Black people and the imagined superiority of White people.”

Last December, an online signature petition was launched on Change.org for the legal classification of “neger” as a racist word in Germany after an eastern state court shockingly ruled that an AfD member had the right to call people of African descent by the derogatory word. AfD is a xenophobic, extreme right-wing party.

READ ALSO Black activist petitions against court decision allowing use of N-Word

The state constitutional court of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania ruled on 19 December that sanctioning the leader of the AfD group in the state parliament, Nikolaus Kramer, over the use of the N-word amounted to a restriction of his right to free expression.

The petition campaign Rechtliche Anerkennung dass der Begriff „Neger“ rassistisch ist!, initiated by Hamburg-based activist Charlotte Nzimiro, has meanwhile gathered more than 125,000 signatures and has developed into a protest movement under the hashtag #NWortStoppen. Several demonstrations have been held across the country by Black community groups since December.

Femi Awoniyi

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