My point of view: #BlackLivesMatter

To start with, today it can no longer be a question of EVERYONE'S LIFE COUNTING. This is the consensus that is lived in our societies, the content of our constitutions, of jurisdiction and legislation, this is what unites peoples across borders, not only since Corona...

And yet there is this hatred: people hate people.

Because they feel disadvantaged/threatened/offended. Because in their world the world is too small for everyone. Because you are afraid.

Not only since the violent death of George Floyd at the end of May 2020, but already since 2013 an international movement against racism with regard to colored people and here especially African-Americans has formed under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatters, which has just this week with the #BlackOutTuesday online in the social media on Tuesday as well as offline with demonstrations in many cities worldwide with thousands of participants has attracted attention: An initiative that polarizes not only in the USA, often along generational lines. Why?

Racism sucks! At least on this point we - in my world - should have an overwhelming consensus.

And yet - it is not that simple:

  1. #AllLivesMatter: Already years ago Obama had advocated a differentiated but open initiative and wanted #BlackLivesMatter to be understood at least against racism in relation to other population groups: #AllLivesMatter
  2. If you are not with us you are against us: The means of demonstrations as a means of protest is certainly not everyone's cup of tea: either because the police violence against demonstrators in the respective country is unpredictable, or because there are own negative experiences in connection with demonstrations.
  3. Solidarity for a foreign-national conflict is not possible without personal responsibility: What Americans denounce in the USA is something we should not do for a long time - at least not until we have done our homework. What is in many respects "grown" everyday life in the context of US-American racist culture cannot be transferred and criticised in a European context without further ado.

When we here in Europe, in Germany/Austria, stand behind the slogan #BlackLivesMatter, it seems all too easy to denounce racism in the USA from a distance. It is more serious to include at least the racism on our own doorstep in Germany and Austria - which, as we know, is not only directed against dark-skinned Africans - and that after the Second World War: with Turkish and Vietnamese immigrant families, we have already made history in East and West Germany; the refugee crisis unleashed itself mainly against Syrians and Chinese had already been criticized before Corona with the slogan "overtourism" and "foreign investors".

So what to do? Support or ignore #BlackLivesMatter?

After George Floyd's death, Trump's Twitter had caused a stir and an outcry by calling the demonstrators "THUG "s - an abbreviation created in the USA since the 1990s by the "gangster rapper" 2Pac and standing for "Thug Life", the initial letters of:

The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody

Means: "The racism you let little children grow up with is all the stronger against everything and everyone when they are adults."

"The Hate U Give" was then for the first time differentiated and impressively taken up by the Afro-American writer Angie Thomas in her successful novel for young people in 2017 (awarded the German Youth Literature Prize 2018); the film adaptation of the same name in 2018 has a broad fan base especially in Generation Z. The Hate U Give has been awarded the rating "Especially Valuable" by the German Film and Media Review and in January and February 2020 the film was presented at the SchoolCinemaWeeks in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

I myself have now seen the film in several languages: it is absolutely recommendable; ideally, of course, in the original English language, because the "colorful slang" translated into German with all its metaphors and symbols seems at best endeavored and contrived.

The hate you give - the love you give!

My three blond girls played in Germany quite naturally with their dark-skinned friends. At the International School in Detroit it was just as natural for them. Nevertheless, we realized that colored people were particularly disadvantaged in the automobile crisis in Detroit and we supported initiatives against violence and homelessness of children in downtown Detroit. And we felt uncomfortable when colored service providers served us with white gloves.

The visit to the Wright Museum in Detroit for African-American History, which describes slavery from its arrival in the USA up to Obama, and the Underground Railroad of the Detroit Historic Society, which describes the specific role of Detroit in the liberation and also later exploitation in the automobile industry up to the biggest race riots in the USA, brought me differentiation into this American past and its reappraisal. As a family, we spent wonderful days on Belle Isle and in the art project against the race riots in Heidelberg Street in Detroit - typical black neighbourhoods of Motown - but it was only in a diner in Alabama that we realized that our "white presence" could be seen not only as solidarity but also as an assault.

The IZIKO Slave Lodge Museum in Cape Town in South Africa then posed the missing puzzle of my own responsibility: European responsibility from colonial times and the business model human trafficking of the Dutch West Indian Company - the answer to the question:

How did coloured people who had been born free and equal become underprivileged? And why are they still underprivileged today? What is it that makes this centuries-old thinking of the "superior white man" still attractive to us today?

We in Europe not only have structural racism ourselves (e.g. in "profiling"), we virtually invented it when we began to systematically exploit the African continent and its indigenous people economically for our own benefit and have exported this to other continents - until today.

It is about change and attention (which is exhausting at first).

It is about not looking away from injustice and discrimination, but to become active (because only the brave own the world).

It is about renouncing privileges (which is already uncomfortable).

What does this mean in detail?

1. Clean Language: Be aware of whose language you speak!

It's not only about the "N-word" - it's also about the "Mohrenkopf" and the "Mohrenkuss", it's about the "Dummen Mohren" and the "Neger-König" in our children's book classics "Struwelpeter" and "Pipi Langstrumpf", it's about the "Zwarte Piet", who visits the Dutch children in December with Santa Claus as a greeting from the colonial times and the old German children's game "Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann". It is about the entrance portal to Hagenbeck's zoo in Hamburg with black Africans as "animal show objects" from the time of the Völkerschauen, when coloured families were exhibited like animals in zoos. It's about the logo of the Viennese coffee manufacturer Meindl, which depicts a coloured man in traditional colonial-era uniforms, about the "African Quarter" of Berlin's Wedding and the village of "Black India" in the Salzburger Land, the debate about the use of coloured singers in the occupation of Othello and the inglorious discussion about the ban on dressing up with "black skin", be it at the Cologne carnival clubs, as the 3rd "Black African Quarter" or the "Black India" in the Salzburger Land. King at the carol singers (the holy three kings on January 6th) or the ban on the costume "refugee". And last but not least the many inglorious evasions by Germans, Austrians and other European museums and national galleries when it comes to returning colonial-era loot to its rightful African owners and/or nations and not continuing to do "big business" with it.

Speak with "Clean Language" especially to children!

2. Say it out laugh: Don't just stand up for solidarity, but react with sensitivity every day when the ideas of the old colonial rule are taken for granted in your environment.

Do not think your part in silence. Be active and courageous! Speak your mind loud and clear and stand up against any form of discrimination - Because with it you also stand up for yourself!

And for our children.

3. diversity: declare war on monocultures!

Enclosed circles of thought produce completed results, destroy lives and flourishing landscapes! And will certainly fail due to the challenges of our time! The surest indication: "It's always been like this with us; it's tradition! But remember: the call for diversity triggers a crisis of the privileged, who become aware that they have not made it on their own and/or have to part with these given privileges in order not to be discriminating.

Show children that true strength lies in supporting others!

We in Europe still speak the language of the colonial masters who built up large parts of their economy by doing the business of human trafficking in Africa - and today we are not even big enough to tell every schoolchild. Instead, our economy is (finding) new and old ways to profit from the African continent and its inhabitants. A current example is the subsidisation of milk overproduction, which is then sold as dry milk to Africa for good money, making it impossible for local milk producers there to compete.

All this does not reflect well on us here in Europe. What if we wanted to go so far as to admit that we are at least partly responsible for the death of George Floyd because of our narrow-minded colonial greed?

It is up to us to change things and distance ourselves from our ideas of domination and excessive greed for profit.

We decide whether we give our children hate or love for other people.

We can consciously decide to see and endure the whole truth.

So should comfort, despondency and armchair-gluing really stop us?

Today it is not a question of EVERY LIFE COUNTING!

It's about choosing hate or love for all - I am all for Generation Z!

Albert Einstein once said: "It should be clear to everyone that you exist for other people." A wise man, undisputed.

Our current CLP Newsletter therefore reports on how we at CLP - Consulting for Legal Professionals, as a management consultancy specializing in lawyers and law firms, have "helped together" (as they say in Austria) all the more intensively during the last Corona-related difficult quarter, especially with a lot of voluntary commitment to the legal industry. And that is why I have been personally involved in the coaching initiative for schools and teachers on a voluntary basis for years, for which we received the "Gift of Coaching Award" from the ICF Foundation in Vancouver in 2018 and starting tomorrow at the German Hackathon #WirFürSchule.


In this sense -

Yours Dr. Geertje Tutschka, PCC



Would you like to stay up to date?

Then please register now for our newsletter and you will receive valuable impulses and food for thought on our current topics.