By Cara Hösterey
I am racist. Maybe not a racist, but racist nonetheless. And it took for a man’s death to go viral for me to admit that to myself.
I exit the train at the main station, thousands of people on the platform before me. Instantly, I am overcome by relief. Ahead of the anti-racist protest, I feared only a couple of white anarchists would attend, and I could not have been further from the truth. Somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 people showed up. The crowds I was part of was the most diverse group of people I had ever seen. Most people had brought signs, too, some of them artful illustrations of victims of police violence in America, with ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Silence is Complacence’, or educational resources advertised on them, but there were some that quite obviously missed the mark. ‘One race, human race’ seems so be the slogan of well-meaning, but frankly misinformed people. It is also symptomatic of the kind of racism we see in Europe.
Discussions around race are different here in Germany, that is to say, they don’t take place at all. After the fall of Nazi-Germany, the word race (which had previously been used in a pseudo-scientific context) was erased from our active vocabulary, and with it conversations about race altogether. To be considered ‘racist’ here is to be as morally corrupt as Neo-Nazis. It will take time to reintroduce discussions on such a complex phenomenon into society, and it will be hard to get anything but aggressive responses to constructive criticism
As part of the ethnic majority, I was afforded life without any form of racial identity for most of my life. It has only been in recent years that I began questioning that mentality, and only because it is so widely discussed in America, not because it was ever brought up in history class. Modern, subtle racism needs to be addressed no matter the country, as I can assure you, most countries and all western nations thrive on racist structures. Those conversations will have to be different in each country, there is no global one-size-fits-all solution to racism, but I think we are starting to learn how to have them.
Maybe I still am racist, but the issue is not something buried in the back of my mind anymore. I want to thank everyone who has been active, especially those using social media as a means to spread crucial information because you have been an integral part of my, and I am sure other people’s, political journey. It might feel like you are screaming into a void, but I can assure you, your voice is finally being heard, and it is the reason to many took to the streets, and I am incredibly grateful for that.