How are racist laws passed

Anti-discrimination law in Berlin : No end to racism - but more means against it

While the world, including Germany, is still in shock over the cruel public killing of US citizen George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, the first state law against discrimination passed on Thursday was discussed with verve in Germany, as if Berlin were lying on another Planets.

Fortunately, death in custody is much rarer here than in the USA. But Floyd's death was the result of something that isn't exclusively American: racism. And that's what this is all about.

There is talk of a flood of lawsuits against innocent officials, while CDU parliamentary group leader Burkard Dregger railed in an interview with Tagesspiegel about reversing the burden of proof to the detriment of the security forces. The Federal Minister of the Interior speaks of a general suspicion against the police.

Anyone who still remembers the storm against the General Equal Treatment Act of 2006 wants to be cynical. Even then, all of this was brought up in the field, nothing of the sort happened. If the game repeats itself, what does that teach us? Is it possible that there are very many people who do not want to be deprived of the opportunity to discriminate with impunity?

The less cynical reading would be: It is simply painful to admit that there is racism, that it still exists in a country that has racially persecuted and murdered millions of people. It is shameful to know that racism drastically reduces everyday life and the life chances of those it meets. In a democratic country with mostly functioning institutions, administration and legal channels.

What if we don't take action against discrimination?

What is psychologically understandable has political consequences that a democratic society cannot come to terms with. Let's not talk about reversing the burden of proof, but reverse the line of thought: What if this society does not act against discrimination?

Then she accepts that large and growing parts of her, especially in a diverse city like Berlin, feel like second-class citizens, that they are afraid of going to the authorities or that their experiences with state institutions make them aggressive.

[Maintain an overview: every morning from 6 am, editor-in-chief Lorenz Maroldt and his team report in the Tagesspiegel newsletter Checkpoint about Berlin's most important news and the biggest upsets. Free and compact: checkpoint.tagesspiegel.de]

That the prejudices that meet them at school mean that they do not achieve what their talents would have made possible - to the detriment of the economy and public budgets, by the way. Such experiences are made, also in Germany, by everyone whose hair and eye color are not considered traditional enough here. And they usually meet people with black skin even more ruthlessly.

Against the consequences of a lifelong everyday life in exclusion, the possibility of being held accountable for discriminatory behavior as a civil servant - policewoman, teacher, head of the authorities - is, pardon me, a luxury problem.

The fact that there is now this possibility, on the other hand, will strengthen the trust of minorities in offices, police stations and the school system - to their own benefit.

[Security on your own doorstep: Our people newsletters from the twelve Berlin districts often also talk about the police. You can order the newsletter free of charge here: people.tagesspiegel.de]

The fact that those affected can now get help from associations with expertise is more likely to prevent hopeless processes. Hopefully it will make racism an ongoing public issue. For those whom he spoils life, he is anyway.

For everyone else, changing your mindset can not only be painful, it can also be liberating. Break shame and silence and say: Yes, there is something, and now we're going to do it. It will not do away with racism, but it will provide opportunities to take action against it. As I said: luckily everyone.

To home page