Taide’s Weblog

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East Germany: The Indian Grandma

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A West German family has encountered racism in East Germany. The family father is a parson, and additionally teaches in a state school in Rudolstadt, Thuringia. His wife´s mother comes from India. They all stayed in Rudolstadt for eight years. Then his wife and children went back to West Germany, in a rush. The parson is still holding out in Thuringia.

Some samples from the news coverage:

In a Kindergarden, some of their eldest son´s minor fellows advised him that his skin was "not right". Some day, the boy stood in the bathroom brushing his arms. He wanted to get rid of the colour.
In elementary school, things didn´t get nicer. "Mom, what is a nigger," he asked at home. Allegedly, he had been told that he was "so brown", because he had "applied shit" onto his skin. Some day, his father reported to the police, because nine other students had apparently beaten his son up. The alleged offenders got an admonishment from the school board.

His sister came home with stories about mobbing, too. And his mother had encounters with racism herself, she says.
Like the old man who she says mused aloud about "what kind of people are allowed to go shopping here", or "Go back into the jungle!" from another man, who was upset because he found her car was in his way in a parking lot.

The parson reacted publicly, with an article in a church paper. His bosses either asked or told him not to publish the article again.

Many politicians from both East and West Germany react to the story and encourage people to publicly take issue in any case of xenophobia, no matter if the offence is open or concealed. Rudolstadt´s mayor on the other hand, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau, has "not heard of any extreme cases of xenophobia. "Some matters are exaggerated. There is no xenophobia here."

Yours truly does not want to play things down. The only reason why I´m not going to elaborate on East German racism myself is because I might start spewing hatred about those who, even after almost two decades after arrival in the globalised world, still haven´t got used to the fact that there are people of many colours.
No use in spewing hate. As long as East German cities don´t get their act together on this matter – as demanding as it may be –, they will get a bad press. And they´ll deserve it.

But I must admit that I´m puzzled about the… umm… OPEN-MINDEDNESS that led the parson and his family to move to East Germany. WTF? My wife is Thai. Would I, even for a split second, consider a holiday on East German territory? I would not. I wish my wife and myself well.
Not only because of its "nationally liberated zones", but for the daily doses of everyday racism, too. I mean, if I want a holiday, I want a nice one for me and my family.

Certainly, the nation can´t leave the East German states and communities alone with the problem. But behaviour is an individual choice, and education is a prerogative and a duty of the federal states (like the Thuringia Free State), not of the Federal Republic. If locals want help in these fields, they must say so. Euphemisms don´t work.

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Written by taide

April 5, 2008 at 8:21 am

One Response

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  1. […] or Racism? Not every case of racism is as crude as the one described here. In West Germany, there are neo nazis, too, and occasionally, you get to hear their slogans. But […]


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