Noah Sow: Germany Black & White
Deutschland Schwarz Weiß – Der alltägliche Rassismus
Paperback, 320 pages, 12.5 x 20.5 cm
30 black-and-white images
With a background of years of antiracist work, Noah Sow puts the finger into the wound of unconscious racism and erects many attention-getting stumbling blocks. She explains why it is worse to read The White Masai all the way through than not to attend the candle-lit demonstration, how even UNICEF advertising campaigns use racist clichés – and what Black people think when whites comment on their hair.
Noah Sow speaks the uncomfortable truth, thereby starting a process of awareness that will lead to changes.
This is going to pay off – for everyone.
A book that wants to break accepted paradigms.
About the book
Many Germans are unaware that their own country has a Black minority. This is due to the lingering phantasm of German nationality being defined by racial terms. Even today, the majority of Germans like to pretend that all Germans are (must be) white and whoever is not white simply cannot be German. This belief prevails to the extent that many even have the opinion that there can't be racism in Germany as there are no Black Germans. Both, of course, are wrong.
"The histories, culture, and political struggles of black foreign nationals in Germany today are tolerated and certainly idealized by the liberal, white German left; however, the recognition and acceptance of an Afro-German legacy among the German Volk is a much harder task for white Germans. Blacks are still perceived as interesting guests at best, but increasingly they, like other perceived foreigners, are seen as guests who have worn out their welcome. This is the backdrop against which Afro-Germans announce their identity and assert their history."*
Many Black Germans and Blacks in Germany have been killed by racist mobs or died while in police custody; they are harassed on a daily basis and face a panoply of direct and indirect racial discrimination.
The mainstream Germans have created a culture of wishful thinking in which the historical facts of the obvious presence of Black Germans for many centuries are being ignored or even subjected to attempts to wipe them out on an institutionalized level. The non-acceptance of this part of their own history penetrates what Germans learn in school about Germany's colonial activities (close to nothing) and their own ethnic composition (nothing), as well as the way in which Black persons are shown, treated and displayed in contemporary literature, children's literature, film, media and advertising: as inferior, other, 100% foreign, exotic, helpless, objectified, not belonging.
"The white German views of Blacks as emphatically non-German and without historical relevance to German society run deep."* At the same time, Germany likes to present itself as a country that has learned from its past. "Despite the Federal Republic's unequivocal denouncement of the Nazi idea of a race-based nation; Germany, nevertheless, thinks of itself as a Volksgemeinschaft or community of people with a common ethnicity, language, culture, and certainly implied here, a common physical appearance, or notion of race.
The author, Noah Sow, was curious to see whether there really is a willingness within Germany's white majority population to deal with their racist issues - even if this means saying goodbye to some racist traditions - "or if it is really all just talk", which would mean that Germany wouldn't be ready for another level of insight, consciousness and an actual change, and would continue the oppression of its Black minority population.
"Let's hope that sanity, reason and humanity are going to win this time around."
Some of the situations, views and compositions of society mentioned in the book are typical for Germany, while others are almost universal in the whole "Western" world. The author hopes that a translation of her title "Germany Black & White" will start a new and widespread discussion in as many societies and countries as possible.
* quoted from ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT-STIFTUNG/FOUNDATION
For Publishers: Please contact the Foreign Rights Department for further information.