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The Black experience in Germany

Pan-Africans & racism

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 2/6/2020, midnight
According to the “German law of citizenship,” being born in Germany would not..
The cover photo, and photo used in the article are the copyright of Jana Pareigis

“I feel ‘segregation’ is worse in the U.S.,” Pareigis said in an email. “We do have neighborhoods in Germany where mainly people of color are living and those neighborhoods are often more socially deprived due to racism, but in general, the neighborhoods are not as strictly for ‘segregated’ as in New York. Yes, institutional racism is a huge - and not often discussed problem - in Germany, and the social background of children has a big impact on their educational achievement. Children from middle class parents or parents with an academic background are much more likely to go to college in Germany than children from parents with a working class background.

“This impacts especially children of color,” Pareigis added. “On the other hand though, education is free in Germany, contrary to the U.S. where it is even more difficult for people from working class backgrounds to get a higher education due to the ridiculously high tuition fees.”

In regards to Germany’s racism, there was an undeniable increase over the last few years. Although most of Germany rejects right-wing parties, Neo Nazis and Alt-Right groups are still active throughout Europe, including the current right-wing political party AFD (Alternative-For-Germany).

“In the last four years the political discourse has shifted to the right in Germany due to the rise of the right-wing political party AFD,” Pareigis wrote. “Party officials of the AFD are known for their comments relativizing the Holocaust and making racist remarks about people of color, Muslims and refugees. Like in the U.S. and in other European countries there is institutional racism in Germany.”

According to Chicago native Jennifer Neal who moved to Berlin in 2016, the hate crime attacks against people of color have jumped in the last three years. In an article that she wrote for the German newspaper “Handelsblatt Today,” she talks about her own experience that hit close to home being Black and living in Germany. In the building where she used to live, her neighbors would let her know that she wasn’t welcome by urinating in front of her door or leaving racist slurs such as “You don’t belong here,” and “Go back to where you came from.”

And although Neal has called the police countless times, “hate crimes” although acknowledged here in the U.S., aren’t often recognized as such in Germany. Although there is no formal can ategory of ‘hate crime’ offenses, police in Germany nonetheless keep track of racist attacks or other crimes motivated by hate.

According to data between 2011 and 2017, attacks on refugees have increased. In 2016, there were 2545 attacks on refugees outside their asylums.

“But I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, because I’m Black,” Neal wrote. “Since I arrived in Germany more than a year ago, I’ve been yelled at, berated and verbally abused by people telling me to leave the country about a dozen times. And my experiences pale in comparison to those of my friends.”