Racism in Germany

I’m supposed to be writing for my final paper that is due later this week, but there is something that I can’t stop thinking about. In a few days I’ll celebrate my one year anniversary living here. For the most part, it’s been a good journey. Germany is a country full of history and culture – and don’t get me started on the delicious baked goods. What bothers me is the amount of blatant racism from daily living.

I’m Canadian but physically I look Asian. This results in questioning looks from people when they ask where I’m from. I’ve almost made it a guessing game now as to whether they’ll take it an answer or ask again about where I’m ‘really’ from. To be honest, this question doesn’t bother me.

What boils my blood are the individuals that come up to me that bow or do a peace sign and proceed to say “ni hao!” Just because I look Asian, doesn’t mean that I come from China. There are more countries in Asia than China! This action also completely baffles me because no Asian person has ever done this to me. This action, along with the idiots that walk past me and say “ching chang chong” are probably the most common forms of racism that I’ve experienced here… and now onto a couple more serious ones that I need to get off my chest.

A few weeks ago I took the train and sat opposite a guy. He pointed at me, said “Ho Chi Minh” (a city in Vietnam) and then started laughing. I’m not even Vietnamese and even if I was, what is so funny about my race that you have to point at me and laugh at me.

Another time when I was travelling around with my brother, we went to eat at a traditional German restaurant. At some of these restaurants, sharing tables is a common practice. The waiters sat us down next to a German couple, who then proceeded to jeer and mock us. They told us this was only for Germans.

Seriously?

I’m finding it more and more discouraging to live here. These are just a few handpicked examples out of many that I have faced here in my short little time. I know there are nice people here, but these racist encounters are making it hard for me to enjoy studying and working here. Does anyone have any tips or tricks on how to deal with racism?

 

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One thought on “Racism in Germany

  1. Luna says:

    Wow, sorry to hear about your experience. I think with the global climate we’re living in currently, there’s just a lot of xenophobia going on, and the moderate voices are often drowned out by the clamouring of racist idiots.

    I’m Malaysian Chinese and I’ve lived in the UK for a bit. It was mostly positive, but I did get a lot of ching chong comments (sometimes when just walking out on the street), which I chose to ignore. There was one incident though that left me fuming; it was on a train to London from Sheffield (where I lived) and after making way for an elderly man to disembark because we were carrying luggage bags, he turned on me, looked me in the eye and said ‘fucking Asian’.

    What’s that phrase kids like to use these days? “I was shook!”

    I was still a student back then, but I think if someone did that to me today, I would confront them (non aggressively) and ask them why they are behaving in such a manner. I’d tell them I don’t feel the same way about them, and that I pray their hearts will be open one day to accepting differences. The better solution would be to ignore them, but sometimes keeping quiet will just make them feel more entitled to continue this practice.

    I think racism stems a lot from fear and misunderstanding. I used to respond with anger, but I realise that it is very hard to change perceptions and deep rooted beliefs. We speak up where we have to, but at the end of the day, our actions are more for ourselves than for the other person – when I ‘forgive’ someone who has been racist to me, I release myself of the hurt and anger he/she directed to me, and I feel better for that.

    Of course, everyone has a different way of dealing with things. Those are just my thoughts.

    Anyway, good luck with your studies in Germany. I’m sure there are positive experiences that mitigate the bad ones, but hey, if things get too bad, there’s always a home you can go back to. 🙂

    Like

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