It’s been a busy first week with the Zusammen Gegen Rassismus!
For a few short hours last Friday (March 10), Turmstrasse was home to the anti-Nazi bear. The inflatable bear drew lots of attention and people were keen to find out what was happening. A team, involving people from Misch mit! and its partner organisations Demokratie in der Mitte and Moabit hilft!, were on hand to let people know that there would be many interesting events in the area over the next two weeks to deal with the issue of racism and discrimination. And so began the two week campaign!
The first event bought together people from local organisations to discuss the big question – ‚what is racism?‘ Around 20 people got together for a discussion and to hear personal experiences from people from local partners, including Narcisse from the Wedding-based Sprengelhaus, and a representative from Amnesty International. The talks interested all of those who attended, and explored issues like every day racism, colonisation and what we would do if we encountered racism on the street.
That was followed by the opening of an exhibition by Wedding-based photojournalist Daniel Sonnentag. ‚ They Have Names‚ is Sonnentag’s picture series of child refugees that is both a poignant and intimate portrayal of child refugees who have been dehumanised by the media an society because of their status. The pictures, showing children in a fun light, reveal another side to the children and uses their names – instead of the labels given to them by the media and politicians. The launch drew in a big crowd from the area, including the children and their, as well as local people. Syrian mother Sabah told us that she liked all the pictures, adding: “Refugees get so much bad press, so this exhibition is a nice idea to show that what people hear in the news about us isn’t true.”
Kristine Kopitza used to volunteer at the ICC – a large refugee camp in Charlottenburg that is home to more than 300 people. She said that she has noticed how racism has changed over the past few decades. “When we were growing up we would learn about the civil rights movement and how racism was directed towards people of colour. Now racism is directed more at refugees,” she said. Kristina said she likes the idea of campaigns like this, but says that more needs to be done to tackle the discrimination that refugees face today, including demonstrations.
One of the strengths of this type of campaign is how it works on a community level. This was evident at one of the smaller events that took place this week, led by Fortbildungsraum. A group of mothers had assembled at a kita in Moabit to discuss the topic of racism. The event was led by social worker Ulrika Bundertis, who was open about her family’s history with the Nazis, and why she felt it was important for the community that these weeks continue to happen. Local mum-of-one Laura Diehl agreed, and said: “The great thing about these types of weeks is that there are so many events going on, that you can work them around your schedule.”
There were many other events throughout the week. Partner organisation Brunnenviertel e.V. hosted a talk on Abraham and the Jewish religion for children, and children were also the focus at an event hosted by Familienzentrum. Other events included a workshop on racism by Ronja Lange from Moabit hilft! and a demonstration by the NoBärgida campaign group. Entertainment also featured in week one, as a backgammon game was put on and an experimental film night about London-based Congolese migrant musicians hosted by Bi’bak. Italian-born anthropologist Eugenis Giorgianni gave the talk and spoke about how he has been studying the relationship between music and film. He spoke about his time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he documented local musicians and the struggles that they have faced as they travelled through the continent. Talking his audience through the clips he had filmed, he gave an interesting insight into the world of Congolese musicians.
With week two fast approaching, we are looking forward to more discussions on how to tackle this issue in society, and more interaction with the local community.