International weeks against racism

Racism is All of Our Business!

Racism not only harms those directly affected by it, but damages the whole of society. Going up against it also means reflecting on one’s own role in the social power structure. An article by staff of our Foundation.

Text
Dr. Ferdinand Mirbach
Pictures
Adobe Stock/Tverdokhlib
Date
March 21, 2024

Clandestine meetings of right-wing extremists, where the deportation of millions of people with migrant backgrounds is discussed: The revelations by a team of investigative journalists from the independent outlet Correctiv rocked Germany earlier this year. The bedrock for such scenarios is undoubtedly a racist world view, in which people, by reason of characteristics such as skin color, origin, or religion, are not considered equal, or the influence of their values and traditions means they would not fit in with German society.

Even if the Correctiv exposé revealed a whole new quality of racist machinations, the phenomenon of racism in Germany is not new. It is a sad truth that 2022 saw a new peak in the number of anti-immigrant offenses, with 10,038 registered. What’s more, multiple representative studies attest to widespread racist attitudes in the German population. Especially common among these is the image of foreigners who only come to Germany to exploit the welfare state. In times of economic stagnation, such resentments seem to bear up especially well and are deliberately stoked by some political powers in a bid to divide.

 

Why racism is harmful

So what’s the answer? Racism undermines the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and our own German constitution, both of which lay down equal rights for all people and the principle of non-discrimination. Racism destroys cohesion and is at odds with a culture in which social diversity is considered an asset and leads to more productivity and creativity. Racism denies people participation and belonging and, in so doing, fails to recognize the contributions they can make to a successful society.

About the author

Ferdinand Mirbach

is a Senior Expert on the topic of “Immigration Society” and Diversity Officer at the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Alongside such ethical and social arguments, there are also economic ones: Racism is a key obstacle to the so urgently needed immigration of skilled workers and at the same time damages Germany’s reputation in the world. And racism negates the fact that the very people perceived by many as “foreign” help to keep up Germany’s high standard of living, thanks to their labor, their entrepreneurship, and their taxes. For all of these reasons, racism damages not only those directly affected by it, but also those who are not, or even those who practice racial discrimination themselves.

Our contribution to the fight against racism

On this basis, we at the Robert Bosch Stiftung want to do our part in the fight against racism. We do this by supporting projects that shed light on racism or empower people who are affected by racial discrimination. But we also do it by examining our own role in the social power structure and drawing conclusions for our actions.

We see it as our duty to take an active stance against racism and exclusion and to give a voice to those who are all too often ignored. We have resources and accesses at our disposal that we would like to share in order to reduce social inequality. We don’t just support certain communities – they also co-develop projects with us. This “power sharing” strengthens both sides.

Beyond this, we commit to societal diversity with our diversity strategy. We see this as adding value and pledge to create belonging for all. A key tenet for us is to be an organization that is free from racism and discrimination, that embodies what we want to see reflected in our society.

Our projects against racism – a selection

Helping people to live equitably side-by-side in an immigration society and eradicating inequality are core concerns of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Racial discrimination stands in the way of both of these. For this reason, the Foundation is actively involved in tackling racism and empowering people with lived experience of it.

  • In the project “Schuleo – Bildung mit Respekt” [“Schuleo – Education with Respect”] from the RAA Berlin, we support the structural dismantling of racist discrimination in schools.
  • With the chatbot YANA, the Robert Bosch Stiftung supports a digital offering that provides an initial point of contact 24/7 for people experiencing discrimination.
  • In the “Support for Racial Justice in Europe” program, we help organizations of people with lived experience of racism to advocate for their interests vis-à-vis political institutions at the European level.
  • And, together with research partners, we examine how racism manifests in Europe and what can be done to counteract it.

What we can all do

The many faces of racism have shown themselves time and again all over the world in recent years. We are reminded of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in the US, whose motive was anti-black racism; or the antisemitically motivated attack on the synagogue in Erfurt, Germany; or the downright execution of young people perceived primarily as Muslim in Hanau, also in Germany, by a far-right extremist.

The societal discussions on police brutality and far-right networks that followed these incidents have revealed that racism and hatred are not just individual problems but are often a structural issue; which makes it all the more important to examine it, to listen, take a stand, and reflect on one’s own role. That’s something we can and should all do, because racism is all of our business!

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