Protesting against Racism in the Heart of Freiburg

Author:  | Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Category: News

By Elena Kloppmann – Freiburg im Breisgau – 10 June 2020

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the BIPoC Group and anti-discrimination department of Uni Freiburg had announced a vigil on Friday, June 5, in collaboration with two other organizations. In a powerful turnout, nearly 10,000 people gathered on the Platz der Alten Synagogue filling the space between the University Library, several university buildings and the city’s theatre – all while keeping a distance of 1.5 meters between each other.

In the crowd, people of all colours of skin, ages, genders, sexual orientations, political views, and (dis-)abilities were present, coming together for a common cause. While the event had been announced as a vigil, it quickly turned into a peaceful protest with many signs and some chants. Different young BIPoC took the stage to share their stories and messages. All their individual experiences were connected through one common thread: to find racism, we do not have to look at the other side of the ocean, racism is just as present in Germany. While it might take different forms and extent, discrimination manifests itself in day to day practices and in society at large. Police brutality is really only the most obvious manifestation of a problem that is deeply engrained into the system we live in – no matter what side of the ocean.

Every single person on stage had stories to share about how discrimination had affected them: from the mother sharing her experience of having to explain to her child what the n-word meant to the young student who was asked by a teacher whether his behavior was normal “where he came from.” Stories of unpleasant encounters with police were told, too. The crowd engaged by applauding and booing, and by joining in with songs and chants. Kneeling on the ground in silence and yelling “I can’t breathe” together in unison were just some of the powerful moments of this vigil.

As a white person, I learned that even if you think of yourself as an non-racist, truth is that you are still benefiting from your white privilege. I will never be able to understand what People of Colour have to endure. I myself have been a target of xenophobia before, when I lived in a country where I didn’t speak the language, however, the colour of my skin has never been the reason for it and will never be the reason. All the stories that were told at this protest are not simply stories – they are the day-to-day realities of People of Colour. Just as a German it is my responsibility to make sure that our history will never repeat itself, I also carry the historical responsibility as a white person to stand up against and dismantle systemic racism. In this time, it is not enough to be non-racist, these times require us to be active anti-racists. And while this was the first time, I raised not only my voice but also my fist against racism, together with the many protesters around the globe, I truly hope that this is not just a momentary uproar but that civil society will keep up protesting until sustainable change is achieved.

Photos courtesy of Elena Kloppmann.

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