Why don't black women date white men

Racial Thinking Part 2White spots on a scientific map

Usambara violets, Scientific name: Saintpaulia ionantha. Discoverer: Walter of Saint Paul-Illaire. Born in Berlin, from 1891 to 1910 head of the Tanga district office, German East Africa.

A German "discovers" a flower in Tanzania - to this day it bears his name in the internationally valid botanical nomenclature. Was the plant unknown before 1891? Surely the people of Tanzania also had a name for them. But we don't find it in botany textbooks. We don't know a lot about the origin of our knowledge. Or do not want to know. That large parts of it are based on violence, for example. That people have been exploited - and their knowledge has been appropriated. Because they were considered little more than a resource. An inferior "race".

(imago images / Panthermedia / scusi) Evolution researcher on the concept of race - "Nothing more than a conceptual construct" Today there is no longer any biological basis for a concept of race, said Martin S. Fischer from the University of Jena, in the Dlf. In a statement, scientists demand that it no longer be used in connection with science.

Today many in Germany avoid the word "race." But most of them still say "we". How does this "we" differ from the concept of "race"? Who will be part of "We" and who will not? And: What do knowledge and science - still - have to do with it?

Human races are an invention. That they exist, biologically, has been refuted. Today this is considered general knowledge. And yet: The idea stemming from biological racism is still alive, according to which a group of people is superior or inferior to another group due to characteristics that all members of these respective groups should have in common.

"Racism is sometimes dated to the time of the Enlightenment, to scientific racism," explains Iman Attia, Professor of Critical Diversity Studies at the Alice Salomon University in Berlin. "And that usually means a scientific, enlightened racism that misses people and tries to identify the genes and the lengths of the nose on the one hand - as belonging to a certain group and in contrast to another - and at the same time to bring them into connection with certain characteristics , Characteristics, cultural, economic, political and so on dimensions. "

Dossier: Racism (picture alliance / NurPhoto / Beata Zawrzel)

To establish this connection, "race" as a biological category is no longer needed today. "Mentality", "way of life", "identity" have taken their place - and above all: "culture". "Even with this scientific racism, culture plays a central role," emphasizes Attia. "You don't just miss in order to determine: There are biological differences here. Rather, the biological orientation, or the genetic or the scientific, is one that is used to explain differences. Differences, some of which actually exist, which have nothing to do with biology, but with social decisions to favor certain people and to disadvantage others. There are different ways of making someone belonging to another person inferior. Culture is only one element. Sarrazin is the best example. "

"All major cultural and economic integration problems concentrate on the group of five to six million migrants from Muslim countries," writes Thilo Sarrazin, in "Germany is doing away with itself". The book with which the former Berlin SPD Finance Senator caused a sensation in 2010. "In my opinion, it is not ethnic origin that is responsible for these problems, but origin from Islamic culture. This characterizes a large proportion of Muslim immigrants in a way that is hardly compatible with the way of life and the cultural values ​​of a secular Western society. "

An old racist figure of thought: There are "the one" and "the other", the own and the foreign. And the stranger poses a danger. In the 19th century, based on the French diplomat Arthur Comte de Gobineau, it was feared that "mixing of races" would result in "mixing of blood". That the dominance of the white race is therefore endangered, and with it every civilization at the same time - and that one therefore has to struggle to "keep the races clean". Today it is said that people are "not integrable" "because of their culture". Wouldn't be on the same level as the culture they are supposed to integrate into.

Who sets the norm?

"Even in the second and third generation of these migrants, educational participation and labor market integration are far removed from the level of Germans and other immigrants," continues Sarrazin. But: Do parents pass on their culture to their children - just as they pass on the color of their eyes and hair?

"If you take culture as a term seriously, then it's about how you deal with what is being developed in terms of requirements, living conditions, interpersonal relationships and so on," replies Attia. Culture cannot be something that somehow develops over generations without modifications, without changes, without mixing. "

Nevertheless, "culture" today also stands for a number of properties which are assumed to be characteristic of people in certain groups in general. And that these groups differ from other cultures through these characteristics - positively or negatively. But: who determines what a positive quality is? And what a negative? Who is the norm

Appointment with Felicia Lazaridou. The psychologist is researching the mental health of black women at the Charité Berlin. She explains what is considered to be normal behavior, and what is considered deviant behavior - up to and including mental illness - that is largely shaped by psychology. In which assumptions that date back to the colonial era continue to have an impact:

"The very terminology that is used to assert that people from Africa are inferior. This is part of many theories in psychology. Sigmund Freud, for example, writes a lot about the" dark place ", the" dark land "and the basic assumption that people have to occupy this land. It is very metaphorical in the way he speaks. This "dark place" of the psyche has to be put back in order. Or, when people get older, they move away from this "primitive" side and turn to the "civilized" aspects. "

The "white, civilized Europeans" stand out from the "non-white indigenous peoples attached to primitive cultures": Against this background, behavior is pathologized that does not correspond to the white, enlightened, bourgeois canon of values.

"In Nigerian culture, it's pretty normal to talk to God and maybe even hear God answer," explains Lazaridou. If you pray in the West, then God may hear you. But he definitely wouldn't answer. And if you go to a therapeutic session here and say: I talked to God yesterday, the therapist would say: Okay, we should talk about that! "

Interpretation of social conditions as a character trait

The emergence of psychology is closely interwoven with colonialism and industrialization. And the attempt to develop methods with which the intelligence and mental capacities of people can be measured. The yardstick - the "norm" - was from the beginning the criteria with which people in positions of power could be described. Francis Galton, for example, co-founder of personality psychology, concluded from an analysis of the biographies of important personalities that many famous men have relatives who are also famous:

"I believe that talent is passed on through heredity to a very remarkable extent: J. Adams, President of the U.S.A .; son Samuel, also patriot; nephew J. Quincey President," Francis Galton, Inheritance of Talent and Character, 1865.

Psychology helps to define the effects of social relationships - reactions to living conditions - as character traits. Which are then generally attributed to groups of people: "Drapetomania" was the "diagnosis" of American psychologists in the 19th century - when enslaved black people attempted to escape. They later "diagnosed" them with an "instinct of submission" and during the civil rights movement it was said from psychology that black men were unable to control their aggressions because many of them grew up without a father.

In 2007, the child and youth health study by the Robert Koch Institute showed that children and youths "with a migration background" were more likely to show behavioral problems, hyperactivity and emotional problems than other children. Where the causes are for behavior that is considered problematic, the stresses people are exposed to, which are primarily defined by a "migration background" - that is mostly ignored.

Visit to the exhibition "The Invention of Human Races" in the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden. "I find what we see here very interesting. Because it shows again how these developments from the 19th and 20th centuries have an impact," you learn during the museum tour. "And we have an installation by Natascha Kelly here. Natascha Kelly is a black scientist who cut off her dreadlocks 15 years ago, who picked them up and said: maybe I'll use them again."

They are now hanging on a shelf in the first showroom. "And when visitors think they have to touch it, the light goes on. With the idea that it is so irritating that the visitor thinks again about why there is a need to touch this hair at all. Because. Because , You always have visitors on the tour who say: But that's not racist if I want to touch my hair. And to come to exactly this question: Who actually defines it? And how can a white person empathize with how does that feel? "

Subtle aggression in everyday life

"These are very subtle, inconspicuous, covert and latently aggressive expressions of racism that occur consciously or mostly unconsciously," explains Amma Yeboah, a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy. She studies the health effects of racism. What stress someone is exposed to who is consistently defined by a "migration background", she says - and what consequences this has - that has hardly been researched in Germany. There are no empirical studies.

However, US research has been describing these relationships for some time with the concept of "microaggressions". A distinction is made between three forms of subtle aggression: "This is called micro-assault. That means: an attack that is already more explicit and that can, for example, be a designation with the N-word. It can also be discriminatory behavior , that is, treating people very explicitly differently and disadvantageously because of their appearance or their presumed origin. And then there is category two, the micro-insult, the insults that target origin or identity. "

At the beginning of December 2018, the British "Guardian" published the results of a survey on experiences of racism that members of ethnic minorities have in everyday life. It is the first study of its kind in Great Britain. More than a third of the respondents, especially blacks, report that they have been falsely suspected of shoplifting - more than twice as often as white respondents. Also twice as often as whites, they are held to serve in restaurants, bars and shops. And a fifth say they had to change their voice, hairstyle, clothing and general demeanor in order to be taken seriously in their studies or at work.

"And then we would have the third category," explains Yeboah. "Micro-Invalidation, the declaration of invalidity. Simply negate the realities of the experience, for example to say, yes you have had this experience, that cannot be. We are all human. Or to say this assertion, I do not see any colors, I do treat all people equally. "

For those affected this means: They are repeatedly questioned from the outside and forced to explain themselves, to correct the assumptions and prejudices of the other person; ultimately: to prove the validity of one's own existence again and again.

"You don't exist. And this message naturally causes stress in the brain. That means, there are stress hormones or neurotransmitters, in the vernacular we say hormones, neurotransmitters that represent stress, they are released and the brain sends signals and says: You can." And because of this response from the brain, we can also speak of biological killing when it comes to racial microaggressions. "

Racism is also reproduced in educational institutions

In 2008 the psychologist and author Grada Kilomba wrote in her book "Plantation Memories" that everyday racism is experienced by black people as a return of colonial violence. Similar to how colonial masters put masks on "their" slaves in order to humiliate them and prevent them from speaking - even today people who do not conform to the ruling white norms are prevented from articulating themselves as independent subjects. This happens above all in schools and universities - in places where knowledge is produced and communicated. This is because these places are ruled by whites and white knowledge - the knowledge of blacks and people of color, on the other hand, is devalued.

Appointment with Aretha Schwarzbach-Apithy. The educationalist researches the structures in which white knowledge is still constructed as superior knowledge.

DLF: "Maybe you can briefly describe where we are?"
Schwarzbach-Apithy: "At the Humboldt University in Berlin in the main building. And now we're going up the stairs. To look at the gallery of white people who serve as role models for science. I don't need to say anything more here, they're natural all men only. "
DLF: "They're all Nobel Prize winners for chemistry, right?"
Schwarzbach-Apithy: "I find that interesting, for example when a girl walks by here and she is good at chemistry, okay, she might say to herself: Wow, can I ever do it? It is unspokenly clear that it was all the male gender. (...) And the stories behind them are not told in the pictures. If women weren't allowed to study, they wouldn't have had the opportunity to get the Nobel Prize. It just matters: it was only men. So you can practically only men. "

Although the gallery has meanwhile been expanded to include portraits of women, black people are still not represented. They are clearly underrepresented as actors in the production of knowledge in Germany. There are professors with an immigrant biography. But almost all of them come from Europe or North America. According to a 2014 study, only two percent of professors were from Latin America and only one percent from Africa. According to the social survey by the German Student Union, only around one in five students in Germany has a "migration background".

"Privilege of ignorance" for white students

However, this also includes white students from other European countries who are not affected by racism. The number of non-white students is therefore much lower. And when they have made it to university, they often find that his or her experience background does not matter. That references to research by non-white authors on seminar topics are ignored.

"Then there are reactions like - the classic, which is often said in school: We're not on the subject right now," explains Schwarzbach-Apithy. "Or: Oh, that's interesting, well then go home, do some research and give a presentation next time. What black students across the country keep telling each other, or students of color, is to 'provide this evidence' the truth of what is being said right now. While others do not have to do it in the seminar, because there is a common sense where the lecturer does not say with every sentence: Prove it to me, show me the quote. But they do with us: Where does that go? And if she doesn't say it, two or three students in the background say: I want to know where that is. Anyone can tell, and immediately. "

While the performance of non-white students is also measured by how confidently they move within "white knowledge" - the "privilege of ignorance" prevails for their white fellow students.

"Professors as well as students can be ignorant of what concerns black people, what concerns their history, what concerns their struggle, what concerns their reality here," explains Schwarzbach-Apithy. "They can go through life ignorant, nothing happens: They don't get a worse grade for it.It's not that they don't get a job, they aren't interviewed either. While black people are asked about all white knowledge. The white positioning and the knowing positioning always also means: I have the power to define. I also define what is correct knowledge. I can validate that. And I also have the power to structure, classify and categorize knowledge. And control is no longer given when more and more people decide about their own university, when black people go to African scientific institutes, African people. When they suddenly tell their story! There is an African proverb: the hunter tells a different story than the lion. So people will tell a completely different story. "

"Bringing what is available outside of the university into the universities"

"Epistemicide" - this is how the Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls the systematic erasure of knowledge. Knowledge that is considered "not valid" because it does not function according to the criteria that have been considered scientific in white, bourgeois society since the Enlightenment. The epistemicide began with colonization - and continues to this day.

"Non-academic knowledge has been marginalized, silenced and labeled as irrelevant," criticized de Sousa Santos. "Christianity has been the only serious and correct religion for Europeans since the 16th century. It was similar with science: only modern science, especially after the 18th century, was seen as the only conclusive science, and all others became accordingly Knowledge and wisdom with which the colonizers came into contact declared irrelevant. "

Can this knowledge be brought back? If yes how? And: to what extent can this contribute to the disappearance of racism from society?

Meeting with Boaventura de Sousa Santos in a hotel in Lisbon. He teaches at the universities of Coimbra and Wisconsin - and is one of the most important thinkers of decolonial theory. Their central concern: the criticism of Eurocentrism: "Take the example of development or progress. We believe that development is a prerequisite for social justice. But the Eurocentric concept of progress or development has nothing to do with ideas of a good life, like there are in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, we always think that development means for a country to become like Europe or North America, although we even know that the earth would collapse if everyone lived like the people there. "

In 2014, Boaventura de Sousa Santos criticized the universal validity of Western thought in his book "Epistemologies of the South". And calls for "cognitive justice": The recognition of non-Western knowledge as equivalent. Without this there could be no social justice in the world - and people who were previously excluded and marginalized would remain so.

"I think we are at the point where we need to democratize knowledge," said de Sousa Santos. "The 'Epistemology of the South' is an appeal for a radical democratization of knowledge, for intercultural translation between the various stocks of knowledge. We have to bring what is available outside of the university into the universities: everyday science, the knowledge of women, indigenous knowledge, the knowledge of the farmers. There are very interesting experiences in this area, not so much in Europe, but Europe is very small. "

Traditional healing methods and alternative cards

At some medical faculties in Brazil and India, it is now common for traditional healing methods to be taught to the local population in addition to western medicine. Law schools regularly invite judges from indigenous collectives that have no prisons - and teach students how to resolve conflicts through mediation and reconciliation. Critical geographers scrutinize methods in their field of expertise for structures of discrimination that stem from colonial times.

Berlin-Moabit, Center for Art and Urbanistics. The Orangotango collective presents its book "this is not an atlas" - a collection of resistant maps. On the podium, the critical geographer Nermin El Sherif from the University of Amsterdam: "For example, the maps that were all drawn in the Napoleonic era in Egypt, Syria or the Levant. The whole area was mapped in order to colonize it Introducing this tool a tool to colonize. "

Nermin El Sherif searches archives for "alternative maps" that were not made by the state, but by the residents, for example. And finds: "The other maps of Egypt", which contain more than just drawn pictures: "It is described in detail which street is which house, how many people live in each house and how this neighborhood came about. Who founded it, how it developed over time and so on. "

Science - or working scientifically - that means in the European and Anglo-Saxon understanding mostly: There is a thesis that scientists justify with the results of observations, experiments, measurements and calculations or derive from them. They make this procedure transparent and therefore verifiable. And then the thesis is considered a "fact" as long as it is not refuted. And last but not least, because everyone can measure and check, this procedure is considered objective - and its results are universally valid.

"Science is a battleground"

But that's not the whole story. AusIt is blinded that scientists also live and work within specific power and dependency relationships, that they - often unconsciously - make assumptions, have opinions and pursue interests. That the knowledge they produce in this way can only claim particular, temporary validity. That the claim to universal validity contributes to the fact that people are denied the authority to interpret themselves and the world. And: That it was above all scientists who drew attention to this who, because of their origins, experienced oppression themselves.

"Science is competitive. It is also a battleground. It is part of civil society and there is a fight for meaning in civil society. There is a fight for meaning and for the possibilities that may or may not develop," says María do Mar Castro Varela, political scientist and co-author of the first German-language introduction to postcolonial theory. In which power structures in society are examined that have their roots in the period of colonization. And which, among other things, demands that the dominant, western-white science grapple with its contradictions - and with its legacy, which is based on violence and exploitation.

"This means that the way in which science is done, who does science, who has which position in science, has to change radically and that is known to those who try to prevent that and when the idea of ​​that We can divide people into certain categories, which leads to certain groups of people being discriminated against, being inflicted on them, being marginalized and stigmatized, being inflicted on them, then it is something that we absolutely have to attack.

And where we have to ensure that a different understanding of 'how we can think human beings' prevails in everyday life. Mastery only works if we understand those we master. That's why it's always a bit of a problem when you do anti-racist workshops and say: 'We want others to be understood'. No! We don't want the others to be understood. We no longer want the others to be others. "

The authors would like to thank Noa K. Ha, Peggy Piesche and Cengiz Barskanmaz for valuable suggestions and support with the research.

Speakers: Tonio Arango, Wolfgang Condrus, Michael Evers, Maximilian Held, Lisa Hrdina
Sound and technology: Jan Fraune
Director: Friederike Wigger
Editor: Christiane Knoll

Racial Thinking Part 1 - About the Racist Roots of Science
(Deutschlandfunk, Wissenschaft im Brennpunkt, December 25, 2018)