The importance of Colors for German Authorities

This is my last blog post for the semester, and I wanted to end with something that would get everyone talking—something I, personally, find interesting. I began my quest on Google and when I couldn’t find anything, I moved to Twitter. #TGFTwitter! (It means “Thank God for Twitter” for you Twitter acronym amateurs).

Tweet post on racial profiling case in Germany

I came across an interesting interview recently conducted by Spiegel Online International with a 26 year-old Black German man who won a two year proceeding court case. It finally came to an end, but this marks the beginning of a never-ending battle of racial profiling.

I never thought about racial profiling as a critical issue in Germany as it is here in American, but this matter affects human rights all over the globe. Racial profiling is a subcategory of racism, and should not be accepted. I know the race talk is a touchy topic to discuss and many don’t like to enter those boundaries. But, sometimes those sticky subjects are the ones that get ignored and need the most attention.

I found interesting facts about Black Germans as I searched various blogs, Youtube channels, Google, Twitter, and other news sources.

Gong back to the issue involving the black German architecture student, he was racially profiled when two German police randomly asked to see Identification in Kaasel Germany.

The black German student tells his story as follows:

Yes. I had just purchased a cup of tea from the snack vendor in the train when the police officers asked me in a commanding tone to show them my identification. I wanted to know why, but got no real answer, so I refused. […]  Yes. I had just purchased a cup of tea from the snack vendor in the train when the police officers asked me in a commanding tone to show them my identification. I wanted to know why, but got no real answer, so I refused. […]  I didn’t want to be treated differently any longer. The police brought me back to the station in Kassel, where I was asked if I spoke English and had papers. They threatened to charge me high fees for taking my photograph and fingerprints, and for holding me in a cell. Then I showed them my driver’s license and they let me go. It was the worst day of my life.

He is not the first to experience this racial profiling as a black German. When considered a foreigner n your own country, it hurts. Everyone yearns for the same respect and acceptance. There is an assumption that people make, and I am also guilty of thinking, that there can only be White Germans. My misconception of no Blacks in Germany stems from the lack of their history, and culture presented in mainstream media. When I think of Germany, I think of their Nazi past, BMWs, Frankfurt beef, and beer. Could it be because of my own personal ignorance, or because the media purposely leaves out information that doesn’t fit within the “norm”? I believe that we are both responsible.

A few comments I found shows the lack of knowledge people have, including myself, about other race and racial profiling:

juju88: there isnt such a thing as a black german, like there is no such thing as a white chinese, is the typical anti-white rethoric.

LairdKeir: As a foreigner married to a Chinese woman and whose son was born in Germany, I can say Germany has been an extremely hospitable and welcoming country provided you follow the rules and respect their country as a guest. I write this as someone who actually has experience with the country and its people, and will not attack people out of ignorance.
I also teach outside Dachau, so am all too well aware of its history.

Kriol Kidd: Give Germany a break……it’s not like they have a history of asking different looking people for their papers or something…….

KamranAghajani:90% of violent crime in Germany last year was done by Turkish, Moroccan and Somali immigrants….
aka people of at least some color.
sorry, this is good news for all Germans, as thugs do not care what color you are when they rob or assault you.

 

I could read on and on the comments people made about the court ruling, but it shows that people have different levels of knowledge and opinions when it comes to the topic of race. While reading a few, I had to shake my head in shame for what some people thought was politically correct.

Black German Student Story continued…

  The first ruling of this case resulted in a dismissal of the case. A German court ruled police authorization to carry out ID checks on the basis of skin color. This created outrage among human right activist organizations such as the Amnesty International and the Initiative of Black People in Germany.

If this is true, it is essentially illegal, Tahir Della of the Black People in Germany Initiative rights group told The Local (a German publication). The authorities always said the police do not do racial profiling.

 Initiative of Black People in Germany (http://vimeo.com/18867923)

Source: Huffington Post

To bring the situation up to current ruling, a court in Koblenz, Germany

The case closed this past Monday. The judges ruled in the favor of the Black German student and said police should not conduct spot checks on people based on their skin color. Many rejoice in this victory.

There’s disagreement among the police as to whether they welcome the ruling.

 The court’s deal with the law in an esthetically pleasing way, but they don’t make sure their judgments match practical requirements,” said Rainer Wendt, chair of the German Police Union. The ruling will make the work of the police more difficult.

I am happy to hear the ruling was in favor of the German student, because equality rewarded to all citizens of a country is fair.

Black German groups responded to the ruling and racial profiling issue in creative ways. A flash mob video, created by African Socialist International (A.S.L.) group, took a stand to create awareness of the troubling issue of racial profiling among Africans and Blacks in urban Germany that many try to overlook.

African Socialist International (Video)

This is not the only incident I found in which race is an issue, and racial gestures made towards Black Germans.

Here is an example of blackface used in a German UNICEF’s extremely patronizing ad. The fact that the ad agency found it okay to place this type of message in Germany shows that it is accepted in Germany.

One point that stood out for me that the German student said in his interview is very important to this entire article.

First, this isn’t just about me, but about everyone who has had a similar experience. It also isn’t a very nice thing to be the person who speaks up about racism. Additionally, I don’t want people to point their fingers at me because I filed this long-overdue case.

The moral of this post is that there was an underlying issue that needed addressing, and somebody needs to take a stand. This reminds me of a past blog article I wrote about, and how Twitter was the first to take a stance online in the removal of a Neo-Nazi group. It is all about being the leader that starts the chain reaction. Racial profiling and racism still exist, and change needs to occur not only in Germany, but also in all nations.

If you are interested in more sources and topics regarding Black Germans and racial topics here are some other things I found:

 

@Twitter takes a stand against Neo-Nazi group #Bock

*Disclaimer: grammatical and content changes made* 

Where do we draw the line on the idea of freedom of speech on social media? Where is the point where we have gone to far? I imagine lines are drawn when published web content rallies and promotes negative ideas and assumptions about others. This content doesn’t uplift the group, but degrades their character.

I make this point to bring up the history of Nazi Germany and how residue of this upsetting time still exists through the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany. Many of these young and old radicals hold the beliefs that destroyed so many lives and brought the end to innocent individuals. Why would these individuals want to revive the cruel social and political ideology that promoted racism, extreme nationalism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism?  I have no idea, but I do know the Neo-Nazis moved to a modern approach of spreading their views by the way of social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and personal blogs.

But, one brave social media outlet took the stand against a Neo-Nazi organization for the first time in history. There is always a first time for everything, and today (October 18th) happens to mark the first time Twitter decided to enforce a policy they put in place back in January to shut down any microblogging account that goes against the laws of the country they reside—when it comes to publishing online material. (Source: Spiegel de International)

 

We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We’re using it now for the first time against a group deemed illegal in Germany, says Alex Macgilliray.

 

Twitter calls this policy the country withheld content:

Many countries, including the United States, have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to users everywhere, if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.

Twitter made the right decision (in my opinion) to take down the @Hannoverticker account after Germany police of the Lower Saxony requested for the site to be taken down. Earlier in the year, Germany officials banned the Neo-Nazi organization, but they continued to communicate their ideas via social media. Chilling Effects is a microblogging service that has the capability to taken down US-based site’ content, and removed the @Hannoverticker account from Twitter.

 

Request letter from the German police of Lower Saxony

In American, some would look this at as citizen rights infringed upon. Because Germany’s laws on freedom of speech is different then the U.S., Nazi symbols, support, and slogans is criminally prosecuted.

 

Twitter only decided to ban access to the twitter page only in Germany and not the United States. Of course I had to see for myself. The Neo-Nazi group has 500 followers and 1,011 tweets. 1,011 tweets might seem like a lot, but as a person who has over 15,000 tweets, this seems minor. The follower number is not enough to be an influential account on Twitter. I believe the incident of shutting down their Twitter account will bring more followers and attention to their page from U.S. Twitter followers. And to check if my theory was right I went back to visit the page and here is what I found. There was an increase people following the @Hannoverticker account page by the end the day.

 

The situation is viral and received buzz from bloggers all around the world. They all hold different opinions on the removal of the Twitter account:

Responses from a New York Time post

 

Hasan Mir made an interesting comment on Twitter in response to a New York Times article about @Hannoverticker account should not be shutdown. He is right that banning access will not solve the issue completely, but I believe this is definitely a place to start a chain reaction.

I honestly believe they should also consider banning the page from U.S. viewership, because in any country or language the Neo-Nazi message is offensive. Where do you stand on this issue? Should the page be taken down for good? Should they ever took precaution to the page in Germany and restricted it? I would love to here your comments.

Is Merkel leaving German women behind as she rises to the top?


Stephen Greenblatt  gives an interesting perspective on the way we, as humans, understand culture. He speaks on the notion that culture is a concept that constraints us within society’s social norms, but when challenged, it allows for a movement to occur. When these social norms in culture are challenged, it stirs up riots, revolution, and social uplifts that push us forward into a new direction. Thus, a birth of a new culture; this is the circle of life.  He offers another intriguing concept he discusses when analyzing culture in literature and art.  In order to understand the literature or art’s culture you must have an idea of the context in which it is written or created. Deeper exploration into a particular culture will lead to a heightened understanding of the context in which the literature or art was produced. This calls for background knowledge and research.

For Stephen Greenblatt article, click here 

After reading Stephen Greenblatt’s article about culture, it gave me insight in how I should analyze the German political cartoonist (Rainer Hachfield) cartoon featuring German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an unusual way. She has a somewhat angry face with her fist pounding to a table as a heart necklace wraps around her neck and it the heart is a picture of her and Francois Hollande— current President of France. Behind her are posters and signs written in German stating, “minimum salary, quotas for women, and no party whip.”

Angela Merkel and François Hollande celebrated 50 years of Franco-German friendship this September 23 in Ludwigsburg. A brief respite for the Chancellor as she faces several difficult domestic policy issues.

Rainer Hachfield is a German playwright and political cartoonist that worked with the socialist daily Neues Deutschland 

Now when I first looked at this political cartoon, it made no sense to me. I didn’t understand what the message Hachfield was trying to get across so I had to do some searching of the questions that were running through my mind. Luckily the cartoon had a caption stating who the figures in the picture were, and with Google translate, I was able to find the meaning of the words on the signs.

  • kein fraktion zwang: no fractional forced
  • frauen-quote: female ratio
  •  mindest- lohn: minimum wage

My first question: Who is Angela Merkel, and what is her relation to Germany?

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Forbes list ranksAngela Merkel as No. 1 most powerful women in the world, and has earned the name the “Iron Lady”. She assumed office as the first lady Chancellor of Germany in 2005 as a candidate of the Christian Democratic Union, the second largest poltical party in Germany. She stands on the notions of emphasizing “Christian understanding of humans and their responsibility toward God.” She is often considered conservative on cultural, social, and moral issues, and advocates a social market economy. She plays a crucial role in the European Union managing the financial crisis at the European and international level.

Chancellor Angela Merkel states in the Economic Times, We have the duty to do as much as possible for domestic demand in Germany so that we can give… a significant growth push to the eurozone,”

 This meaning all European countries will have the same currency.

 My second question: Who is Francois Hollande? He is the current President of France and is the first Secretary of the French Socialist Party. As I familiarize myself with the platform socialists stand on, these politician stand for social movements to reform social issues of a country. They have a liberal view on the way things should run in a country compared to the conservative Christian Democratic Union.

These two leaders stand on opposite political spectrum’s in their own country, but they can agree on one thing. Merkel and Hollande marked their unity on the issue regarding Greece bailout.

 

Merkel and Hollande as they make a visit to Greece together.

We want, I want, Greece to be in the eurozone, it’s a desire we have expressed since the start of the crisis. It’s up to the Greeks to make the effort that is essential for that goal to be met,” said France’s Socialist president, standing alongside Merkel.

The Greece potential bankruptcy issue is an entirely separate issue that needs to be address, but Hachfield shows in his cartoon picture that Merkel is turning her back on the critical social issue at home in Germany while sharing bon bons with Hollande.

Current issue on quota of women in business

 German women in the workplace only make up 3 percent of the leadership and executive positions held in German corporate businesses. With this stubby percentage, German women are not satisfied and feel this social inequality needs to be addressed and revised. Businesswomen want to work for companies in which they have the opportunity to advance in and hold higher positions to reflect their growth in the company. Men in the companies are moving ahead while women stagger behind.

 Women in Charge: The Female Quota: Video

The Christian Democratic Union stands divided over the country’s need for a legal quota German businesses must maintain with women in leadership or if it should be the decision of the leaders of the the company. This will be a big topic of debate when it comes down to the German 2013 elections.  Upper legislative chamber, representing 16 German states, is demanding for a mandatory quota for women on companies supervisory boards. Now the decision is in the hand of the lower house, in which Angela Merkel coalition controls, and they are currently divided on the situation.

As a woman I am bias to the situation, because I believe women should have the opportunity to hold leadership positions in a company. The same issue woman deal with in America. I don’t believe Chancellor is purposely turning her back on the social inequalities that is occurring Germany. As a woman I don’t think she would not want women to have the same chance to move up in society as she did.

 Another Rainer Cartoon:

Rainer Handshake Friendship

 What do feel about the cartoon? Is this an accurate depiction of the current issue and how Angela is addressing social equality for women in Germany? Is she really turning her back on the important domestic issues in Germany as she focuses on keeping an old friendship strong with France? I would love to here your comments. 

Video of Gaulle speech that brings unity of France and Germany: http://www.france24.com/en/20120922-france-germany-celebrate-50-years-friendship-charles-de-gaulle-ludwigshafen-free

 

 

Former German president’s wife a prositute; Google it.

Former President Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina Wulff

It’s mind-boggling to think about the power of the Internet and search engines in our present time.  Our world is increasingly moving towards a total “cyber world”. The dependence of the Internet for social, political, cultural, and business news is close to surpassing television and other popular media sources. Any topic you want to know about, you can learn by just typing in keywords in a search engine.

I found it interested that one of the world’s most powerful search engine, Google, influenced former German President Christian Wulff to step down in office because of alleged rumors of his wife, first lady Bettina Wulff, being a prostitute.  Of course I had to try it out for myself.

When you type Bettina Wulff in the Google search engine, Google’s autocomplete comes up with terms such as: Bettina Wulff escort, Bettina Wulff prosituierte, Bettina Wulff rotlicht. Google Trends also provides a graph over the past month in which these terms were search, how many searched it, and in what cities in Germany. It seems as if in the month of January there was a high search of these terms.This just so happen to be around the same time in which President Christian Wulff began his presidential term; a month later he steps down.

This was Google’s response to the situation: the insulting suggestions that come up in relation to Wulff are “the algorithmic result of several objective factors, including the popularity of search terms.”

Google lawyer, Kent Walker admits that Google has the power to prevent terms from showing up in the search engine that fringes on privacy.

Does Google not have control over what can appear in their search engine? Why would this a popular term people were searching around the time of the German elections? Who started this rumor? There are so many unanswered questions with this case, and so much up for interpretation. I see situations similar to this daily about celebrities and gossip. Many occasions Facebook or Twitter make accusations of celebrity deaths and sex scandals. Who has time to start this type of slander?

Bettine Wulff decided to take it to the next level; Sources say she has a lawsuit against Goggle and German TV personality Gunter Jauch, who quoted an article about her describing her past as an escort.

How do you feel about this situation? Is it Googles fault? Do you believe Bettina Wulff is a former prositute? Should former President Christian Wulff stepped down from presidency because of these alleged rumors of his wife?

 

The Age of the Internet and Illegal Downloading is Affecting Germany Music industry.

Another year will past and the annual music festival, Popkomm, is cancelled and will never return years to come. It was suppose to take place this week, but the people of German seem not to care about the postponed event.   Popkomm is music event that takes place once every year in Berlin in various locations; it is a time in with people of the music and entertainment industry comes together and talks industry politics, culture, issues, and developments.

Popkomm Trailer 2011

Over the years, Popkomm grew into an international music event that brings musicians, record labels, artists, distributors, and publishers from all over the globe in one place to discuss and debate current trends and issues in the industry. Berlin Music Scene Sheds No Tears for Popkomm Ironically, it seems that the debated issues and trends that recently occurred in the industry led to the cancellation of the Popkomm festival.

The Berlin music industry is calling it quits after years in decrease attendance  Popkomm Shuts Down…. This is not the first time in which Popkomm cancelled; in 2009 the same resulted because of low sales of the event.

People are not interested in the international music event anymore. Why wouldn’t music lovers want to purchase a week of music entertainment that offers the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the music industry, and share their opinions?

I feel the same trend that seems to occur in American has affected the Berlin music scene. The Internet has changed the music industry, as we first knew it. In the old days people who support their favorite musicians and artist by purchasing their albums in store, and attending events in which they could see them perform.  This is a moment in which fans and the musician could interact and share a connection, and the moment was magical. This bought so much revenue into the music industry. Everyone was happy and getting paid. Now with technology advancements and the Internet, people are able to download their favorite artist music for free and watch concert performances at the comfort of their home. The personal connection between the musician and artist is all done via social media and is physically gone.

“But how many breaks does Popkomm really need to take to re-conceptualize itself and how long can it get away with that before people lose interest in it entirely?” —Blogger Gavin Blackburn

It just might be too late to save Popkomm, but there is great opportunity for a re-birth of something new.  Berlin Music Week and many other festivals till go on. What are they doing right, and what went wrong with Popkomm?

More of this article on topic can be found:

Popkomm’s Blog

Popkomm Twitter

Popkomm Facebook