Racism is everywhere, says author Alice Hasters: in everyday life, in the family and in love. But many reject the problem. Where does this defense reflex come from?
November 9, 2019, 8:21 pm
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: What white people do not want to hear about racism, but should know , you wrote a service book. You write about the relationship with your parents, tell about everyday experiences and a letter to your friend. What role does being white and black play in your relationship?
Alice Hasters: There is this assumption that love would wipe out racism. But it is not that simple. My white friend or my white father, for example, enjoy privileges that I do not have. They often overlook the fact that the world looks quite different to me as a black woman in certain areas. When it comes to applications, housing inspections, but also vacation planning. Straightforward people who are very close to you would like to ignore that. But I think the opposite helps: talk about it openly and understand each other.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Why did you choose a personal approach to writing about racism?
Hasters: I have a lot of my own biography on my mind that I wanted to get rid of. I am often frustrated that there are people who know a lot about racism but do not provide the transference that this impersonal life looks like.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: How did you personally experience this?
Hasters: Often, when I've accused white people of being a racist utterance, it's usually just about the accusation, not the racist statement itself. Many said: This can not be racist, you are not a racist. My perspective was not taken seriously.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Where does this defense reflex come from?
Hasters: Many immediately associate racism with National Socialism or neo-Nazis, and of course nobody wants to be associated with it. While many people have understood that racism is a big problem in our society, we do not want to admit that even white people still benefit from a racist system today.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: To what extent?
Hasters: These can be small things, such as white people being perceived not as representatives of a "group" but as individuals. When people hear the word "human," most people first think of a white man - or at least a white person. White people are considered standard, standard. That makes life maybe even more. But also in the big. Racism was established to legitimize the exploitation of the global South, especially the African continent. Until today there is a huge economic gap, until today this exploitation takes place. In short, without racism, Europe and the US would not be as rich and powerful as they are today.
ZEITCampus ONLINE: Your book is mainly about racism in Germany, but the AfD is not mentioned once. How so?
Hasters: I did not mention them, so readers can not think: AfD voters are racists, we're not. It was important to me that through my book people understand that racism is everywhere in our society and in every person. This is the basis for the strengthening of AfDist.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: When someone asks a black person about their hair unasked or if a Nazi kills someone - the range of racism is big. Is it right to put everything under one concept?
"For a long time, I thought that what I experience is not racism." Alice Hasters
Hasters: Of course, there are differences in terms of extent of violence or intention, that is, between non-evil acts and right-wing extremist attacks. But there is also a lot of room in between. And everything comes from the same thinking that white people are worth more than blacks. What has been written down in history as it did in the time of colonialism. I want people to understand the connection between them.
ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Was that always clear to you?
Hasters: No, for a long time I thought that what I experience is not racism. I thought that I dispelled the problem, even though I call my everyday experience racism. Besides, for a long time I did not want to see myself as a victim of racism. Because with that one admits that there is a power gap, that therefore white people are more powerful than you. But nobody wants to see themselves weak. But in the meantime, I think it's more empowered, because it means I have to fight the problem contribution when I call racism.
ZEITCampus ONLINE: In your book you use terms like " Othering " or " Tokenism ". What do you mean and why do you use the foreign words?
Hasters: " Othering " means consolidating power relations by naming marginalized groups, turning them into "others" and excluding them. And " tokenism ", that one sees a person not as an individual, but as a kind of representative of a group. I have also explained the terms in a glossary in my book. The fact that I use them is proof that we do not speak enough about racism in Germany. We do not have our own language for it. Not only in racism, but also in other marginalization discourses is often resorted to English.