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RACISM

Chocolate Chinaman ‘not racist’: poll

Some 97 percent of Swedes did not find the picture on chocolate giant Fazer's “Kinapuffar” product offensive despite claims of racism, according to a recent survey carried out by market research company Sifo.

Chocolate Chinaman 'not racist': poll

Last week confectionery giant Fazer announced that the product was to be re-designed after complaints that the current packaging featured a “racist” image.

“Kinapuffar” (literally: Chinese pops) is a chocolate-covered sweet with packaging that features a caricature of a bright yellow Chinese face with a red pointed rice hat.

Fazer’s move to change the packaging came in response to the debate following the publishing of a column in Swedish newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD) which questioned the stereotypcal picture used to market the sweet.

In his column, HD journalist Patrik Lundberg wrote that “to joke and laugh at Asians seems to be the only racism which can pass by unremarked”.

“All it takes is stretching your eyes with your fingers or saying L instead of R, then the audience explodes with laughter,” Lundberg wrote.

After Fazer’s decision to revamp the packaging, Swedish artist Lars Vilks wrote an opinion piece on a Sveriges Television (SVT) website where he said that Lundberg was fighting a losing battle if he hoped to eradicate national stereotypes.

“It is probably impossible to get rid of prejudicial opinions on ethnic and national differences. You can tire yourself out by straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel,” Vilks wrote.

Lundberg, however, was quick to respond.

“Vilks is urging people to just ignore these things. I suggest we all ignore Lars Vilks’ opinion on the matter and instead do our best to treat our fellow human beings the way we want to be treated ourselves,” Lundberg wrote.

Although Fazer’s sweet might be a small matter in the larger scale of things, wrote Lundberg, “it doesn’t mean that it is OK to go up to me and stretch one’s eyes , or shouting ‘Chinese-bastard’ to me in a bar. It doesn’t mean that someone gets to call my Asian girl-friends Thai whores”.

However, when SVT asked a thousand Swedes whether they thought the picture was offensive, only 3 percent said that they did.

Although there was little difference between men and women’s answers, in the age group 15-29, eight out of a hundred said they found the picture in bad taste, which was slightly higher than the average.

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RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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