Are there white privileges in Morocco?

Everyday racismRacist rescue complex

At the end of Mohamed Amjahid's book there is a quiz entitled: "The ultimate self-test: How white are you?" The first question: "What do you think spontaneously when you hear the word 'foreigner'? A: I have nothing against them, but ...; B: They finally have to come to terms with our Christian-Jewish values allowed; C: ... out !; D: The word is something from the nineties! "

Amjahid - late 20s, son of Moroccan guest workers, born in Germany - would answer with D: "The word is something from the nineties!" Amjahid is bothered by the fact that many Germans have also chosen variants A to C. For him, this is an expression of deeply rooted, institutional racism in German society. He wants to illuminate and fathom this with his book - he wants the social debate.

Clichés, prejudices, discrimination

Amjahid is primarily aimed at Germans without a migration background - or as he calls it: "Biodeutsche". He would like to hold up a mirror to them, show everyday devaluations and racist idioms and provide examples that are commonplace for people like him, who outwardly do not correspond to the classically white European:

"If, for example, I sit next to a woman in the subway and she suddenly clutches her bag tightly. When a police officer picks me up again for a routine check at the train station. Or when I get the short end of a flat inspection against a student from Swabia and the real estate agent explained to me on the phone: 'I saw your name and thought you were unemployed.' "

The cliché of the dangerous and lazy North African - prejudices, according to Amjahid, with which his Moroccan parents have already been confronted. They came in the sixties as guest workers. In the mid-1990s the family returned to Morocco resignedly. The parents were tired of being declared "foreigners" and perceived as "different", despite their efforts to integrate.

"You have to be able to afford racism"

Mohamed Amjahid is only returning to Germany to study - he has lived and worked here ever since. For him, his own racist experiences as well as those of his parents are no coincidence - he suspects a system behind them that is primarily based on privileges:

"By that I mean prerequisites or framework conditions that enable a person in the first place to make decisions about themselves, but also about other things. For example, whether a child should go to a grammar school or a secondary school Or whether a migrant is treated with respect. Privileges can be subtle, invisible, self-evident. […] But one thing is clear: only those who are privileged relative to others can act racist at all can afford for now. "

Amjahid makes this everyday racism, based on privileges, visible in eleven short book chapters.

Stereotypes in the media

For example, he writes about the so-called "differentiation" of people, that is, when the social majority assigns certain attributes to the minority: All North Africans steal, Muslims are misogynistic, you know them, the Turks, the blacks, the foreigners. Amjahid criticizes this binary construction, which consists of "we" and the "others", is used every day and fuels prejudices and clichés. In doing so, he also holds the media accountable, as many of these stereotypes would undifferentiated and spread.

Amjahid dedicates another exciting chapter to the German media company - to which he himself belongs as a ZEIT journalist. The main problem here is homogeneity.

"Stories about racism or sexism [...] automatically appear inadequately in reporting or are treated with blatant ignorance or inexperienced clumsiness. Reports from abroad often have what I call a Peter Scholl Latour look : White men describe exotic cultures and foreign peoples. "

Language shaped by colonial terms

The problem in the country's editorial offices is that there are hardly any journalists with a migration background, says Amjahid. Most of the editors-in-chief and decision-makers are white and male, and social reality and diversity are not depicted. This homogeneity in turn encourages racist clichés.

"In 2009, I was greeted by a left-wing daily newspaper with a 'Hello Ahmadinejad'. A complete stranger head of department called me like the then officially chosen head of the 'Axis of Evil'. [...] I joined a large local newspaper a few years later in the hallway called a 'hipster Salafist' by a colleague. [...] [A senior editor once said]: 'Oh, you are the new Arab! Come to my office someday, I would like to give you a few Explain things. '"

Racist experiences that are exemplary, but which many Germans with a migration background are probably familiar with. In contrast to the organic Germans, to whom such sayings should be unknown.

In his book, Amjahid approaches the subject of everyday racism from many angles. He discusses racist language characterized by colonial terms, wonders why he can hardly travel without a visa with his Moroccan passport and he writes almost essayistically about Hungary and France - two countries that are exemplary for Europe with their anti-Semitism and anti-Islam courses 2017 would be as he thinks.

Hold up the mirror to the whites

And Amjahid talks about the white rescue complex when bio-Germans paternalistically explain to him how to use soap or cycle paths - because they consider him a refugee. Would help here:

"The willingness to communicate on an equal footing, not to constantly think in terms of clichés and victim roles and, above all, to simply listen attentively to those [refugees] who are actually in need."

Amjahid shows how people who consider themselves enlightened and tolerant think and act in a racist way. In doing so, he achieved his goal of holding the mirror up to the whites. But beyond that, he hardly manages to present possible solutions. Rather, his criticism seems generalized and sometimes as undifferentiated as the prejudices that he denounces. Nevertheless: The quickly written book is thought-provoking. It leads to critically questioning one's own privileges and thinking about everyday racism in a multiethnic society like the German one. Because for Amjahid it is clear: Racism in everyday life is the basis for hatred, fear and - in the worst case - terror.

Mohamed Amjahid: "Among whites. What it means to be privileged"
Verlag Hanser Berlin, 192 pages, 16 euros.