Racism in Germany
Being an Indian living in South-West of Germany for about four years now here is what I feel about racism in Germany. I would begin by saying, there is no one correct answer to the question. I would like to give my two cents from my experience. So please take it with a grain of salt.
If you were to ask me three years ago, I would say, “yes, there is very evident racism against foreigners in Germany”.
However, after trying to understand and integrate into the German culture. I barely notice anyone treating me differently for being a foreigner.
What changed from then to now?
- I barely knew German then. I did not even attempt to try and speak in German. It pissed off people here big time.
- Now I try to speak in German, even if I am not proficient, most people appreciate the effort and try to help.
I know many people would disagree on this point.
- I dressed very badly then and I would dress very differently than what the locals do.
- I took suggestions from my friends and worked on my wardrobe. I don’t know if it’s true, but since I changed the way I dress, I get more smiles by the passerby.
- In the beginning, I was loud and ignorant about people around. It called for angry stare and shrugs from people. It felt like people were being racist because I was ignorant of my behavior.
- Now, I keep my voice low and follow rules. Even when others are not.
A couple of months back, I was in a car with a German friend. He drove over the footpath to overtake a vehicle. I asked him, “Are you allowed to do that?”. He said, “No”. I gave him an angry stare. Similar to the one I used to get in my initial phase of living in Germany.
Furthermore, the extent which depends and can only be talked about in a long answer.
Some factors that determine the extent of racism you face are,
- Where you live: If you live in Western Germany, you are likely to face less racism than in Eastern Germany. The locality you live in also makes a huge difference.
- How well you integrate: If you are punctual, productive and try to learn the German language, indulge in outdoor activities and sports you are less likely to face racism.
- How well you can differentiate between German directness and racism: It’s hard to get used to blunt and rude reply initially, but with time you would understand that no one means to offend you. They are just being straightforward.
- How well you behave: People in German are known to be cold, but if you have lived long enough in Germany, you would know that they are not cold but just reserved. So if you break the ice with greetings and smile, you would be behaved well with.
Also, there are a few places where you are likely to face more racism than other places, discos and clubs are a hot spot for racism. If you can stay away from those places, well and good, else you are sure to face racism.
Meanwhile, students face much less racism than others.
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