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Eradicating racism from German children's books

The Local · 24 Jan 2013, 12:39

Published: 24 Jan 2013 12:39 GMT+01:00

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Within my first 24 hours on German soil, I ran into a black lawn jockey grinning at me in subservient fashion. The statue's jarring presence at the cheesy restaurant I had been taken to in western Berlin would be my introduction to Germany's frequently antiquated approach to racial matters.

When I pointed out to a young German woman how offensive the docile "darkie" manservant would be considered in the United States, she simply shrugged and said it never would have occurred to her that something so whimsical could be insulting to black people.

More than two decades later, racial sensitivity in this country has undoubtedly improved. But as a heated national debate about replacing racist terms in classic German children's books shows, not nearly enough.

Depending on how it's used, the German word Neger can range in meaning from the outdated and inappropriate term "negro" to the highly offensive insult "nigger." But many Germans would appear to have few qualms about exposing their children to it.

German Family Minister Kristina Schröder kicked off the discussion last month by saying she cut out discriminatory terms like "Negro King" from a Pippi Longstocking story while reading to her small daughter.

But it was the decision to replace the diminutive form Negerlein in Otfried Preußler's popular kids' book Die kleine Hexe ("The Little Witch") that unleashed a torrent of outrage against what some see as kowtowing to overzealous political correctness. A pundit at Der Spiegel magazine raged: What blatant censorship! And a cover story in the respected weekly Die Zeit fumed: The feelings of little black German children be damned – important literature was being defiled!

Now, I don't condemn these people as racists, but they are guilty of willful ignorance and gross insensitivity. It's utterly irrelevant if white, middle-aged men at leading German publications don't find the use of Neger offensive. I'm certain they won't mind being called a "Nazi" on their next Greek holiday, but the only people who get to decide if a term is hurtful are those having it foisted upon them. People like the defiant nine-year-old who in a justifiably angry letter to Die Zeit defended herself and her black father from the paper's apparent contempt.

Because this isn't about political correctness or censorship – it's about respect, or the lack of it, for non-whites in German society.

It is simply not acceptable in the 21st century to expose very small children to discriminatory words in outdated books. If Die kleine Hexe is deemed so crucial to young Germans' upbringing – the tale supposedly conveys the importance of questioning authority in post-Nazi Germany – it should be modernized. This is not whitewashing history, nor is it erasing the fond childhood memories of older Germans.

Books are changed all the time – few people even noticed when Pippi Longstocking's "Negro King" became the "South Seas King" in the German edition in 2009. Literary impact? Zero. Similarly, Die kleine Hexe will not suffer an iota by dropping the word Negerlein.

In a country known for promoting pedagogical methods, teachers can easily put racist terms in books meant for older adolescent readers, like Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," into context.

Coming from America, I grew up reading Twain's "nigger" references sensitized to matters of racial prejudice probably much in the way Germans are socialized early on to the horrors of the Holocaust. But the respect now largely allotted Jews in Germany often does not transfer to other minorities, as the Neger debate sadly illustrates.

Whether it's people putting on blackface makeup for a laugh, or stubbornly still calling a popular chocolate-marshmallow confection a Negerkuss – a Negro Kiss – insensitivity is not confined to the self-proclaimed defenders of Teutonic children's literature.

Of course, this is a nation that only recently decoupled its citizenship laws from having German blood. But sometimes it can feel like Germany lags behind the United States and Canada, or even Britain, by several decades when it comes to public attitudes on race.

Story continues below…

Updating a popular children's book won't solve all the problems, but it's a first step towards greater respect in German society. The lawn jockey stopped grinning a long time ago.

Marc Young



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:08 January 24, 2013 by yllusion
This can be an endless debate. What is important is to eradicate racism from the culture and this is done with proper education, creating empathy and understanding among different cultures. Removing and replacing words is simply walking around the issue and won't be a solution, never. A word can cause damage through its intention, through its use, not through its meaning, and if we let everybody's sensibility dictate which words are acceptable and which words have to be banned, we'll have no more vocabulary!
14:22 January 24, 2013 by paulfilkin
I completely agree with yllusion. This sort of thing can be a problem of translation generally and goes the other way sometimes too... taking innocent and nice rhetoric from stories in other cultures and "translating" them to be something the translator, or the translators employer, considers more suitable for a German audience... something that would similarly outrage many readers of the original. Perhaps the translation should be more faithful or we'll never learn more about other cultures and become more accepting of them too.
14:36 January 24, 2013 by jodendal
very good article...
14:57 January 24, 2013 by sonriete
And then what about misogyny? Somehow these children's books are also filled with evil witches who are always women. Once you start altering literature to please one group there are others unhappy as well who's views should perhaps be respected. At karneval is the Nubbel ever in the form of a man? Or always a woman. Before the third reich Nuremberg was already notorious, that was from hundreds of years earlier for being the center of the burning to death of countless "witches" all of whom were of course women.

If people want so badly to have their politically correct literature, why don't they write some great works themselves that can be read to children in the place of that which so offends them.
15:11 January 24, 2013 by Mr.Ed
Quite an interesting article, even if seriously flawed. The author states "Germany lags behind the United States and Canada ­ or even Britain ­ by several decades when it comes to public attitudes on race. "

You must be having a laugh!! Germany has far less an unequal society as the American and British ones and racism is far easier to be seen in the public eye in America or Britain than in Germany. Just to highlight some examples, if u attend a British Uni, go to a medical appointment, or fill out a job app. in the UK, you will most certainly be asked to "Please describe your ethnicity." Now, my argument is, if there is no descrimination on any grounds according to government bodies (even though there is) then why ask someone to state their race or ethnicity? Why is it that people have to be labelled and categorised in the same way as dog breeds, or types of cars?? It is a racist procedure in itself and it's profoundly embedded in Anglo-Saxon cultures! Tell me, who are Americans to point the finger at other nations on matters of racism, when black people are still deeply stigmatized and prevented by class divisions and lack of social mobility from participating in so many realms of American life? Tell me, is a black or latino likely to become a CEO of an American Co? Or even achieve a well-paid job? Or live in the best areas of American cities even?

Now, returning to the point of the article, I would agree that offensive, outdated terms should be replaced by other less discriminatory ones. However, unlike as the author tries to argue, this is very much an issue revolving on politically-correctness. 1st: it's about race, racism and the aim to build a fairer society and 2nd: it is undoubtedly language-focused. In recent years PC has literally gone mad. short ppl can't be called short as it might be deemed offensive, so they're "vertically challenged'. Unemployed is now an offensive term (!!), so if someone's out of work, they're 'between jobs'. Some years ago in the US (go figure..), a black woman working for an IT company, decided to sue their employer because the technical terms 'master / slave" were being used in the workplace. (This is a true story!) I mean, fair enough, we all want to live in a fairer, more just society but this?? get a life. The danger with PC is that it inflicts censorship, it implicitly tries to deny the darkest hours of human History and in practical terms, it simply caused ambiguity in communicational processes.

I do agree with the author that changing some terms is a step forward..but it's just a step. A few words in a few books won't cause an attitude-change. Racism is eliminated by proper education, by government policies on social integrity of ethnic minorities and a pursuit of social equality. Now, to point the finger at Germany as if the US has any moral grounds to do so, ppfff...no.
15:22 January 24, 2013 by billyfication
"can lag behind the United States and Canada, or even Britain"

Don't quite get the or Britain bit of that sentence. Britain has some of the toughest and most PC laws around. The United States still seems to be lagging behind on rights for homosexuals, the poor and immigrants.
15:37 January 24, 2013 by raandy
Mr.Ed are you the talking MR. Ed??

Lets start with Obama as a Black man with a good paying job, Clarence Thomas, C. Rice Colin Powell, on and on I could go ,now how many high profile people of ethnicity do you see in those positions in Germany???
15:50 January 24, 2013 by Mr.Ed
Raandy, how many black people are there in the US when compared to white? half the population? maybe 1 in 3? I've no access to figures but I doubt it is less than that. How many years have black people been in the US? Even before the US even existed as a nation. and what are the stats on black ppl in Germany? 1 in 50? 1 in 100? I don´t know but good chances are that is WAY LESS than it is in the US. How old are black communities here in Germany? 30, 40 years the most? So, from a demographic and historical standpoint, this cannot even be compared.

You can deny it all u want mate, but you know for a fact that black ppl are still discrimminated against big time in the US. Those examples, albeit true, are a handful and therefore not representative at all of where black people stand in American society.
16:08 January 24, 2013 by raandy
No Mr. Ed Only 13.1 % is Black. I was comparing persons of ethnicity not necessarily only persons of color.

It would be like comparing apples to oranges, if we compared Black people of America and its history of slavery, to that of Germany.

If you watch American TV you would assume from the number of Black athletes and Actors t that the population of Blacks was higher. Black people have been a great assets to our country and those that want to do well can and have.
16:54 January 24, 2013 by roywatson
@Mr.Ed - come clean: you're really Günter Wallraff, aren't you?

I wonder what the former Governator of California thinks of this... or is someone seriously going to try and argue that, spelling variation notwithstanding, that's NOT the derivation of his name?
18:28 January 24, 2013 by franconia
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:22 January 24, 2013 by sonriete
I actually think Germany has a very good record of providing opportunities to immigrants and ethnic minorities., much better than America all things considered.

America is about 40 percent minority, the US Senate is still 95% White. The only Black person in the Senate was appointed, not elected, all three Hispanics are very light skinned.

Germany has only had a significant Muslim population for a few decades and already there are leading politicians and so many successful small business owners, let's not forget the Black people have been in the US for hundreds of years. If the country is 13% Black, why are there not 13 Black Senators?
20:41 January 24, 2013 by Bulldawg82
A Senator has no more authority than a Congressman and African-Americans are well represented in Congress as they are elected by more local populations than a state-wide vote. In a Democracy, 13% - unless concentrated in a small area - won't get many people elected. As the demographics in the USA change (Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the USA), so will the face of the Senate, Congress, and - as we have already seen - the White House. The North American Hispanic people are generally lighter skin, so don't let that fool you into thinking they are "real" Hispanics. I am from Texas and we have always had Hispanic mayors, Congressmen/women, and Senators - either fully Hispanic decent or mixed.
21:11 January 24, 2013 by gorongoza
What about this for those of you who can not understand what you see:

1) One German company I know was (soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall) faced with a problem to reconcile its workers comprising of former West and former East Germans. The former East Germans (who got assimilated in this company in large numbers) were perceived as outsiders, or even a threat or a liability. From this stemmed squabbles within the company which were counter-productive to the company. The company hatched a plan. They went to Africa and hired a few , only a few, black people to do the same job as the two antagonistic Germans. The result:problem solved. The two squabbling camps has finally found a "COMMON ENERMY" the few Africans with a different skin colour to that of theirs.

2) The other case is to do with deficiencies intellectually or otherwise on the part of those who get so pre-occupied by an insignificant number of black people amongst them. This group, despite their ratio to the black person (which maybe 1 in five thousand) feel their lack of achievement is to do with this one of a different colour.

3) Finally there exists the dangerous group whose world only stretched to the borders of Germany. These religiously believe their god created their small world and proclaimed that no other being of a different colour shall not set foot on their sacred soil although they themselves are free to roam willy nilly on soils outside their borders.

The sad aspect of it all is that their offsprings will find this world totally different.
21:23 January 24, 2013 by Bulldawg82
Oops! I meant to type "The North American Hispanic people are generally lighter skin, so don't let that fool you into thinking they are NOT "real" Hispanics". Sorry, I should have done a better job of proof-reading :)
21:54 January 24, 2013 by sonriete
I will agree that there is better minority representation in the US house rather than the senate, that is mostly due to minorities being concentrated in ghettos. that said they are still woefully under-represented there as well.

As for Hispanics being lighter skinned in North America than elsewhere, I'm not sure I can agree with that. The Mexican Americans tend to be Mestizo, the Puerto Rican and Dominican Americans are likely to have some African roots and be quite dark, the three "Hispanic American" members of the Senate all have their roots in the almost all white Cuban upper class.

The new "Hispanic" republican Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz was born in Canada to a white mother and an upper class cuban father, his wife is a white american and his two daughters are not learning spanish, he is a member of an overwhelmingly white protestant church and seems to have started emphasizing his "hispanic" roots quite recently when he decided to run for office, the last name is quite convenient but there really doesn't seem to be much else there.
22:07 January 24, 2013 by mitanni
@Mr.Ed "Germany has far less an unequal society as the American and British ones and racism is far easier to be seen in the public eye in America or Britain than in Germany."

Yes, Germany is excellent at making sure its problems are hidden from public view: its massive age discrimination, racism, right-wing violence, etc. In the US, on the other hand, even the slightest problem is turned into a big media event. As a result, Germans like you get the erroneous impression that everything is fine in Germany while the US has huge problems, when, in fact, the opposite is the case.
22:12 January 24, 2013 by MaKo
I do a conversation class way down in Upper Bavaria. I gave them an article on this very topic to discuss in class, thinking, "What a great and interesting talk we'll have!" only to have my class unanimously agree that not being able to say "Neger" is PC gone mad.

Here, you are very likely to be visited by a troupe of singers with a person in blackface on Epiphany. But here also, there is no tradition of minstrel shows, no directly intended degradation regardless as to how appalling the sight is to these American eyes.

That said, the fine German folks all around me are often willing to reconsider when supplied a very direct example. So to everyone here, I'm an Ami, a diminutive, but a German doesn't see it that way until you suggest that he's a "Deutschi". I think this might be a good point of departure for this discussion on the impact of labels.

The people I have talked to are not nasty people, and they genuinely do not see what's wrong with refering to a black person as "Negro." I'm glad that Germany has started this conversation because it seems it's overdue.
22:28 January 24, 2013 by chicagolive
What have they started, I have lived in Germany not connected to a US entity for 10 years now(wifes has sick family so we have to stay), Germany to me is worse than the US. Yes, racism is more in your face in America or England, but you do have chances. To grow and to grow to a high level, that ain't happening here. As I have witnessed this has gotten progressively worse over the years. That now my wife who did not like the US due to racism says she is just about to the point she would rather live their now then her, just for the sack of the kids.

The problem in Germany is the invisible racism that the thinking that if you don't say it it is not true. The thinking of if you don't say racial words that you are now "the good guy", problem is their actions is what makes it worse. Me and every other black friend stopped riding the train due to the constant harassment by the police. Whole trains of people would be ignored till they get to us.

The racism of oh not a German name that goes in the trash. Oh go to job center oh your black have a P,HD hmmmmm McDonalds toilets that is the job for you. Germany is not improving they are going backwards by 50 years pretending it is not their only makes the lion of ignorance grow stronger.
23:51 January 24, 2013 by raben
bookburnings and censorship...now where have I heard that before?
00:49 January 25, 2013 by AClassicRed
No. I think children or anyone now should be able to see what has gone before, so they can use their cognitive abilities to see and decide how the world has changed, and what still needs to change. If they've been handed views through "rose-colored" glasses, which in my opinion, certain societal and classes levels continue to be show in western society (only because this is what I've personally researched), it absolutely serves no purpose except to hinder them and slow development of humankind in a positive direction.

To do so would continue the "dummying" of people. Don't take away the ability of people to have common sense, common feeling, empathy and connection to others no matter the shade of their skin. Just the same, the key factor of leaving such things in is discussion about the issues involved. To explain how and why such terms have changed, and how it benefits people and peace. Education continues to be lacking in some areas like this though I.Q. levels have statistically been documented as rising.

Mako and Chicagolives make a very important and substantiable statement, in that racism, not as an aggressive, ugly thing per se that exists here, but it is a kind of accepted, quoted and believed set of responses by many Germans that this or that people can only do thus or so. They might be willing to take you as an individual as an exception but they still look at "your people" as a whole as a stereotype, which too often is ultimately negative. So many can't understand or even comprehend minimally that what they are doing is racism, that it is negative and it is hindering both to themselves and the ones they are referring to.

That being said, I spent much of my youth and young adulthood in the south US as a minority. You had majority people who very well knew, carried out and actively and openly supported others to "keep you down." They knew what they were doing, why, and were often even politely malicious in their intent whether they were a teacher at your school or a clerk at the corner market. That is somewhat a difference here, as you can know you waste your breath, time and patience there, but at least here, sometimes you can take the time to explain and you'll have someone, even if it's just one, who listens to you and accepts you just as you are.

Let children be able to discern these things, reason them out, while be provided accurate and age appropriate material. To take it away would be a disservice to them and to future humanity. We don't do the same to Aristole's or Galen's teachings, although some are now found to be wrong or ill-worded or thought at best. I think primarily these people want those words out because they don't want any controversy. They want to try to hide/ignore/dismiss anything negative they can from what their society and nation did in the past. Just be honest. Then you can at least be respected. If you try to hide, you just look culpable. That's for any nation.
04:39 January 25, 2013 by Anny One again

Perhaps the difference between black people in the U.S. and Germany is,

that Black Citizens are living many centuries in the U.S.,

they are already living there longer as the most immigrants.

Unlike in Germany, some African may live just for twenty thirty years here.

The difference is many come directly from Africa,illegally across the Mediterranean sea, barely speak our language,have a different cultural background, often living illegally in Germany and often earn their money through illegal methods.Or many live and dwell on Hartz4.

I remember the comment of a black American who wrote that the Germans should treat kindly the foreigners better,who else would reap in their future fields.Maybe you ever noticed,that our farmers in the past

desperately searched for workers.But who was doing the job?

They are mostly white and comming for a saison from Eastern Europe.

No Africans,not Moroccan,not a Turk, Afghan or Gypsy.It's a different situation than in the U.S. with the Mexicans.

Ask some Mexicans in the States (in the South, of course not in Chicago) to the daily racism and police checks.Germany is a relative small Country,without natural ressources,we need people with skills and the willing to integrade.
09:54 January 25, 2013 by septiSeverus
@Yllusion #1 A word can cause damage through its intention, through its use, not through its meaning, and if we let everybody's sensibility dictate which words are acceptable and which words have to be banned, we'll have no more vocabulary!

What do you mean by... A word can cause damage through its intention, through its use, not through its meaning,?
10:15 January 25, 2013 by raandy
sonriete There are two senators from each of the 50 States, which are elected offices but you already knew that,, Right?
10:32 January 25, 2013 by The Saucerer
The VOICE Refugee Forum Germany - Flüchtlinge und Asyl in Deutschland



10:55 January 25, 2013 by Anny One again
Hey the Saucerer

Ask for asylum in the U.S., maybe in Chicago.There are people much more friendlier.And they give you money every month, an apartment and a health insurance.
11:12 January 25, 2013 by raandy
Don't forget the food.

a c/p

Food stamps allow you to buy food at participating stores using an electronic benefits card, which looks like a credit card. If your income is low, you may qualify for up to $200 per month in food stamp benefits, plus another $121 for each person who lives with you. sweeet !
11:33 January 25, 2013 by LecteurX
@ Anny One Again - your comment #22 shows that you don't know many black people in Germany, if any at all. Ever heard of black German singers Ayo ("Down on My Knees") or Lou Bega ("Mambo #5"), or Haddaway or Jessica Wahls? Ever heard of black sportspeople Célia Okoyino or Gerald Asamoah or Cacau or Jérôme Boateng?

Well I don't know any of them personally, but as far as I could see, none of them ever "crossed the Med illegally", they don't "barely speak our language" and they don't "earn their money through illegal methods". Same goes for my few Afro-Deutsche friends here in Berlin, who were born in Germany and grew up here but still meet people every day who praise them for speaking "good German" and are always targeted for police checks... But they are "integrated" all right you know. Their only wish is that their fellow Germans would just see them for what they actually are: Germans.

Sure I don't deny that lots of problems associated with immigrants in general.

But thank you for your "insightful" comments on black Germans. They tell us much more about you than about, you know, black Germans.
13:19 January 25, 2013 by Darra
Should Germany expunge racist terms from classic children's books?

Why not just educating children instead?

The "n" - word is just a word , that means the color "black" in many languages. It is spelled differnt ways , but means all the same. If used for a person, it is no different than "blond " or "brunette" - it gives you some idea how the person may look like.

If , instead of educating the children, you decide to avoid the word , you 'll have a really hard time explaining countries like Nigeria and Niger. Do we not respect people there? Do we not mention the river Niger? How about the country Montenegro?
13:50 January 25, 2013 by trevzns
@ Mr. Ed #5 - Tell me, who are Americans to point the finger at other nations on matters of racism, when black people are still deeply stigmatized and prevented by class divisions and lack of social mobility from participating in so many realms of American life?

Mr. Ed, yes, there is still inequity social and employment. And some Americans are conceit and self-centered. The U.S. and many Americans have different sets of rules and principles for one group of people than for another. European or european looking people from anywhere in the world, legally or illegally immigrate to the U.S.. After having children or obtaining citizenship, they are classified as an American. If you are not of European decent, you will be reminded daily, you are a brown, yellow immigrant or African American minority.

Today in Germany, it is not uncommon for a black person, man or woman to be denied entrance into some clubs. The same can be expected when seeking housing...kein Neger - no Negros. Germans are a bit more open expressing their feelings regarding foreigners and black people. In the U.S., there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior. In Germany there is no serious legal or financial consequences for violating laws.

@ Mr. Ed #5 Tell me, is a black or latino likely to become a CEO of an American Co? Or even achieve a well-paid job? Or live in the best areas of American cities even? Yes, is the answer to all of the above questions. And, like many Germans, Americans love money and despite their personal feelings, become skin color blind and foreigner blind....even in the best areas of American cities.

sonriete #12

Germany has only had a significant Muslim population for a few decades and already there are leading politicians and so many successful small business owners, let's not forget the Black people have been in the US for hundreds of years. If the country is 13% Black, why are there not 13 Black Senators?

Sonriete, black Americans had their own local small business, news papers, and sports teams...etc. Some black civil rights leaders decided full integration into white society, without full black ownership and black representation was the best compromise for civil rights. Why are not 13 black Senators? It was illegal for slaves to vote for hundreds of years. Later there were unwritten rules and laws. Black people were forbidden to register or vote freely without voter intimidation until 1965. Around the time, the Muslin population increased in Germany.
13:52 January 25, 2013 by zameenzad
6 years in Germany and I NEVER saw a black or brown police officer, bank executive, university professor or in parliament.

something is wrong with Germans.
16:52 January 25, 2013 by arbeitsbiene3
@ Anny One again #22 #26 Your generalizations of African people in germany is unfair and bias. German society is well regulated and controlled for movement of german citizens, residents, legal or illegal. Some blacks often in public, standing in front of shops or in some cafes, common in big cities or towns. Can also be spies and informants working for police or immigration office and allowed illegal methods?

The population of Africans including U.S. citizens and active black military living in germany is less than 2 percent. Mathematical it is not possible for only black people to be using illegal methods to earn money and Hartz4? There are rules and laws for all citizens, immigrants, Asyl to have social benefits.

Yes, Germany will provide, house, education, medical, food and transport tickets to foreigners who enter legal or illegally under many special conditions. However, you and I feel about tax money, the government has the authority and responsibility to say, yes or no.
19:04 January 25, 2013 by tadchem
Often words become 'racist' when a perfectly harmless descriptive term, applied without intent to offend, is deemed 'offensive' by someone else who simply decides he or she is offended.

This amounts to ignoring the Rule of Law in favor of having 'crimes' defined by those who perceive themselves to be victims.

We are allowing whingers to redefine our civilisation.
20:10 January 25, 2013 by septiSeverus
@tadchem #33

Harmless descriptive term, applied without intent to offended? Why were the slur words of this topic and the other variants made-up?

Ignoring the rule of law by perceived victims? Also, which civilization is being redefined?
22:20 January 25, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
Why pick only on Germany?

The word Neger has been used in Germany for hundreds of years and is based on a Latin word for black. This may be formally incorrect, but also the movement called Black Power has mostly members who are brown skinned. Must we now ask them to change the name of their organisation, because black is an expression doomed to be looked on as a verbal discrimination?

There is an old saying in England which is very true: Not what you say, but how you say it, is what counts.

Looking back over European history, real racists can be found in nearly every country. The former Czech president Edward Benes was, during the twentieth century, one of the worst, but he is still looked upon by many of his countrymen as a national hero.

Were we to remove all words, which could be used in an insulting manner, from our dictionaries, there would not be very much left of our European languages. What then would a Neger/Negro be named in Swahili?
00:11 January 26, 2013 by septiSeverus
@ Kennneth Ingle #35

Not picking only on Germany. The topic of the discussion is racist words used in German childrens books. Germans are similar to all the other European and Scandinavian Nationalities. Monkey see, monkey do - follow the leader.

Swahili? How many Swahili slur words are used for Europeans? For that matter, what native African languages have as many disparaging words made-up to degrade Europeans? The words Nigger, Negro and other variations are of European Portuguese, Spain and English origins. The word for black in german is schwarz.
00:43 January 26, 2013 by chicagolive
@ Anny One Again & Trevzns I think both of you are drinking the kool-aid of blindness first of all as it was stated the actually Black/African population in Germany is less than 3 % and most of that is made up of US personnel. Next we do not deny the ignorance in America, but we have many black doctors, politicians, mayors, the President, CEO's, billionaires the problem in America is not the issue of whites but of blacks breaking free from the slave mentality that has been beaten into the community. That is a whole other discussion, so we will keep this in Germany. Unless you are a white German male your chances of advancement is slim to none, unless it is dealing with a particular country that you might speak the language. Most times when a minority goes up the ladder to far next thing you know, some agency is taking out their door.

MEG being one of the biggest, the German CEO's loved him when he was making money for them and not putting his little auslander hands in their pot but when he started to, this guy got hammered by everybody. The problem is in Germany the political scene reflects nothing of the real public scene in Germany. Germans are not the french who will protest on everything, unless it interrupts their quiet or privacy, they will mostly take whatever is thrown at them. So the issues of Germany society does not come out because people don't talk. I see all these people on T.V. talking but on the street people don't. People can be neighbors for 20 years and never know who lives in their building this is the reality. Racism thrives in such a society with out connection with out identity and Germany has no identity.
06:02 January 26, 2013 by dr.makni49
I think the discussion has been stretched to the limit. It has demonstrated how a non-issue can take the shape of an issue. My personal observation has been that in Modern Germany, racism has never been a moot point. But then if humans are compelled to stretch their imagination from the obvious to remotely similar expressions and dress them up wih the label of racism, well, there would not be a limit. The 'obvious' should be taken out whether in text books or in colloquial form but sniffing for every word lest it sounds racism would only clutter the snout. By avoiding such debate and hoping tolerance would take care of any deficient effort, we can keep the young innocentt brains away from the malice. Germany has no racism and streaks of it sprining in US, UK or France should be left to them as their problem to sort out. What I see in US it remains a problem even thoght deliberate efforts are made by the educated lot to the contrary.
11:30 January 26, 2013 by Anny One again

No i never asked black people if they are german in the past,but i know a family and i praise them for speaking good german,they coming from the Nederlands and are black.

And like you said before Pierre Geisensetter(ZDF TV-Moderator),Nelson Müller (TV& Restaurant Chef),Motzi Mabuse,Mo Asumang,Günther Kaufmann,Tyron Riketts,Joy Denalane and many others,are examples that black people in general are well accepted.The same with Will Smith,Eddy Murphy,Janet Jackson,Rhianna as examples for the whole black Movie and Music Industry they have one of the biggest markets a long time in Germany.Or just look about the U.S. President,he has an excellent reputation in Germany.

The current number of black people in Germany is estimated at 300,000 to 800,000.The number of Afro-Germans among them appreciated the organization of Black People in Germany (ISD) in 2008 to approximately 500,000 people.Since there is no precise scientific definition of the attribute "black" and there may be, it is this is a rough estimate.Most of today's Afro-Germans living in Germany are naturalized African immigrants and their descendants, "occupation babies" and children of students, sailors,Guest workers or recruited professionals of African descent.Many also have an Afro-German German-born parent.How many blacks in Germany have German citizenship, is not known.

In Berlin alone, about 70,000 people (about 2% of the population) African origin.And not all are fluent in German, so it's completely normal that sometimes people are confused and praise wrongly afro-germans for their language skills.And the idylic African Quarter in Wedding is one side of the coin,

Mayor Buschkowsky Berlin/ Neukölln says also;

"To the formerly common stock of Turkish and Arab origin population have increasingly black Africans settled in the area.

With the Africans is even more brutality, confiscated drug and alcohol abuse.Turkish and Arab men sitting in cafes.

African men sit at home, watch TV, play calling and drink. Africans can look even harder in the cards than the other ethnic groups."

@chicagolive,I do to your broadside later a few thoughts.No space
13:18 January 26, 2013 by mitanni
"The United States still seems to be lagging behind on rights for homosexuals, the poor and immigrants."

Are you kidding? Gay marriage exists in several states, welfare is far higher than in Europe, and immigrants have nearly the same benefits and rights as citizens. What people are arguing about in the US are things that aren't even on the agenda in most of Europe.
15:00 January 28, 2013 by LecteurX
@ Anny One Again - Thanks a lot for your informed answer (without any hint of sarcasm this time). You do know your celebrity Afrodeutschen after all. So why all the stereotypes? Do you think that Heinz Buschkowsky is a very unbiased person to quote, with his silly generalisations regarding foreigners? One year ago, as the Turkish families of the victims of the "Zwickauer Terrorzelle" of the NSU were being received and finally honoured by the German state after 10 years of horrors and dismal attitudes of the German authorities towards them (think "Döner-Morde"), did you pay attention to what Mr Buschkowsky said on that day? He said "well, that's fine but still immigrants should do more to integrate". That man will never, ever, have anything remotely positive to say about immigrants. As I believe you're German, you can read it here:


So please spare us Mr Buschkowsky's "wisdom". I like it when people tell the unpalatable truth sometimes, and I don't mind tough talk. But Buschkowsky has shown enough times that he has no empathy for immigrants at all. Any generalisation of the kind you have quoted is plain silly.

Not speaking proper German is certainly not just African people's problem in Germany. I'm sure you're aware of it.

@ drmakni - "Germany has no racism" you say. Well, good night, bright fellow.

@ tadchem and others - If you really genuinely think that words like Neger or Nigger or Nègre, etc, are simple "harmless descriptive words", then either you're very naive and uninformed, or you're extremely thick. In every language, there are words used to describe a category of people that are just unmistakably offensive in most contexts. In French, if you say "les Boches", then you mean "the Germans" but this word now is offensive and nobody could ever dream of using it in a neutral, descriptive manner. This word carries with it the undertones of the tradition of mutual German-French hostility of the past. There are more "neutral" nicknames for Germans or other nations. Nobody would think of writing children's books with a word like "Boches" in it. Yes, it would be nice to know how those people would feel if they stumbled on children's books where words like "Germans", "Boches" and "Nazis" are used interchangeably, in a "nice", neutral and simply "descriptive" way, of course...
11:46 January 29, 2013 by TheWonderer
Would anybody dare changing "Huckleberry Finn"'s wording?

It is not the word itself that is insulting but the way in which it is used.

Some of my Afro-American colleagues call themselves and each other niggers - in a humorous way - laughing. If anybody else would call them the same in an unfriendly way, of course they would oppose.

And that is the point: Rather leave those words in and teach children how to use (or not to use) them than changing the books but not the thinking.

I am convinced that any new politically correct term will be used in a bad meaning within no time - because most folks may change the words but not their attitude.

It is most important to change people's minds, not their books. Only if folks are open-minded to see that different ethnies, religions, believes can be fertile for discussion (and I am not talking multi-culturel society but just input for each other's group!) they will accept each other - folke are afraid about whatever they do not know.

I am a caucasion but have a few Afro-American friends and colleagues. It is interesting to get to know more about each other's background. They tell me about their culture and I am telling them about mine. Same with friends who are muslim - some were brought up at Christian schools and know the bible way better than many Christian... And after all, the differences are not that big, we all follow the same commandmends, have the same needs.

What keeps people apart is poverty - those who have nothing to loose will follow ideologies those better off would not even think about.

So get to know more about each other rather than re-phrasing stories.

00:13 January 31, 2013 by RainerL
Well, wel, well! We have Aboriginals call us white fella here in Australia. MOst of us shrug it off and think nothing of it because it is true. We are white Fellas and no denying it. yet we have the black fella getting up in arms if we dare call them that. Again" Also no argument or denying that they indeed are BLACK. Is it our fault that they are black and because of their colour carry a stigma? No! They are still black and will remain black unless they happen to be MICHAEL JACKSOn who must have been so ashamed of being black that he altered his colour by medical means.

The word NIGGER is a Name used by the yanks when they used Blacks as Slaves. The word Nigger has relates back to that era and there for is offensive to many Blacks. How ever" What shall we call them in a short word? Shall we call them black Fella? can't call them Indigenous as they are not of American natural origin. I guess the only word left to call them is an African american. But then again. Someone will scream up not liking the African thing.

There will always be someone who will be offended because they CHOOSE to be. As long as black and white are treated equal then there should be no problem. Lets also not forget how easily the word NAZI is thrown about to People whos personal views although often nothing to do with Nazism but the label conviniently being used in order to suppress anyones view that does not fit with theirs.

The moral is. > Do not throw a Stone in a Glass House. You may break your own Windows.
04:18 February 1, 2013 by Joho
RainerL - I¦#39;m pretty sure Anglo Australian have called the Natives more than "black fella" throughout the last 200 years, I grantee you that. People unfairly target US, UK or Germany in regards to racism when they are 1000 more tolerant than Australia (considered one the most racist countries in the world). The natives in Australia still live in 3rd world conditions in that country and have a life expectancy almost half of white Australians; you won¦#39;t find that in US, Canada or the European countries. Ethnic cleansing is alive and well in Ausland...
17:35 February 1, 2013 by Icke Ricke
I have to weigh in on this one folks because in the 80's I lived with a Black guy and once he played an early rap song called "10 Little N____'s" that was the name of it! Now I'm reading that there is a German story 'Zehn Kleine Negerlein', and it's bizarre because I have noticed a German/African deal with words and symbolism here in the States. For instance, with the very popular R&B band 'TLC' I noticed that 'Left Eye' (one of their singers) had a sunny-side-up egg on her eye! Well being a student of German/American word relationships I easily figured that egg = ei (eye) & eye = aug, and sometimes looking at words poetically (as I call it), one can notice the symbolism - why? - I do not know, however I do have theories... The word 'Neger' in this case seems to be a simple word in your native tongue, like negro = black in Spanish, but became demonized in the U.S. and NOW seems to be travelling back across the Atlantic as an inappropiate word.
20:49 February 3, 2013 by Opeth_fan
Rasist terms come from all cultures and through all times in history, trying to ´exterminate` them from books is futile and just another form of censorship. You only have to read the news to see that racism is alive and well in many countries, in much greater intencity than Germany and against people of all kinds (yes including europeans). Maybe books with these references are a way of reminding us thats its wrong, so why destroy them?
02:09 February 4, 2013 by trevzns
@ RainerL #43 Is it our fault that they are black and because of their colour carry a stigma.

Black people skin color is a gift from nature. Not a curse from racists European religious prophets. A gift that cannot be suntan lotion or spray painted on.

The words nigger, negro race and other disparaging words are used to perpetuate the subhuman classification and stereotypes of African people. The concept and words made-up, by the enlighten minds of the other slave masters, the Yanks of Europe. Long before there was a US, a Michael Jackson or a white fella in Australia.
04:06 February 6, 2013 by Geomant
Neger is bases on Latin,meaning black not more and it has not negative meaning here.The american ways are not ours,if the Blacks feel that they are offended by this term, they should realize that they are not longer in the States or in Africa, abandon their norming.
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