Racism and criticism of racism at the university

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In accordance with its mission statement, Goethe-University opposes racism, nationalism and anti-Semitism. The university has also given itself the task of preventing or eliminating any form of discrimination in its anti-discrimination guidelines.

Its claim to promote equal cooperation between its members and affiliates at all levels is constantly challenged by social phenomena such as racism and discrimination. Racism has grown historically and runs through all levels of society. It is not only based on the actions and thoughts of individuals, but is structurally and culturally deeply rooted in our society and its institutions. Universities are not an exception to this, and yet the topic has so far been little discussed at universities.

Therefore, information and further sources on the topic of racism and criticism of racism at universities are compiled below.

According to the National Discrimination and Racism Monitor, racism is defined as follows:

"At its core, racism is understood as an ideology as well as a discursive and social practice in which people (1) are divided into different groups based on external characteristics (categorization), which (2) are generalized by "descent", (generalization and racialization) and (3) are evaluated and linked (for the benefit of their own group) to social rankings (hierarchization), thereby (4) reproducing and justifying unequal treatment and social structures of power and dominance (legitimization)."

Expressed more succinctly, racism is a powerful social structure in which people experience racist associations, are disadvantaged and/or devalued and experience discrimination.

Racism at university involves several aspects. In addition to everyday racism, it is also about looking at institutional practices, research and its teaching and learning content with a critical analysis of racism.

Racism critique as a professional competence is an "analytical instrument" (Fereidooni, 2023) that is used to look at the institutional organizational and action logics and examine the extent to which these are based on racism-relevant knowledge and reproduce racism. The aim of racism-critical competence is not only to make racism visible and name it, but also to educate about the knowledge and structures relevant to racism in order to counteract it.

Embedded in the Goethe-University's diversity policies, which are designed to be intersectional, the topic of racism and criticism of racism is also one of the cross-sectional tasks that affects all areas of university development and management.

Here you will find a glossary of the most important terms in the anti-racist discourse. The individual definitions have been reproduced word for word from the sources mentioned. A detailed glossary on the topic of racism, among others, is available, for example, from the Neue Medienmacher*innen (A nationwide network of journalists with and without a history of immigration.)

Marked________ as: In social coexistence, people are often externally defined and thus "marked" on the basis of external characteristics and the constructed logics associated with them. The marking has nothing to do with self-definition, even if it can match. People can therefore be marked as Asian without describing themselves as Asian. (Source: Ehrlich & rive (2023, p. 6))

BIPoC: Acronym for Blacks, Indigenous and People of Color: Black, Indigenous and other non-white people. Also used as plural BIPoCs. (Quelle: Amjahid (2021; S. 211f.)

Racialization: Racialization refers to an ideological process based on the biologistic construction of "human races" to which specific characteristics and behaviours are assigned. (Source: Ehrlich & rive (2023, p. 7))

Intersectionality: The interaction or simultaneity of different dimensions of diversity, resulting in specific positionings, situations and experiences of discrimination. Intersectional discrimination is the discrimination of two or more diversity dimensions.

Black: The term is written with a capital >B< in every context. This is to make it clear that it is not an adjective >black< and therefore does not refer to the color, but rather a political self-designation. The term is an attempt to express the social similarities that have arisen from the construct of racism. It is therefore primarily about experiences and in no way about biological similarities. In short, the term refers to people who experience racism. (Ogette, 2020)

White: Is written in italics. As with black, this is not about a color, but also about a "political description" (Ogette, 2020) of people who are seen as the norm and neutral and enjoy associated privileges in society.

Further information and links

  •   Anti-Muslim racism (in German): Ozan Zakariya Keskinkilic's input on anti-Muslim racism and its political, structural and institutional dimension.
  •   Anti-Black racism (in German): The Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation on racist continuities, colonial past and responsibility in Germany.
  •   Anti-Asian racism (in German): Brochure "Anti-Asian Racism: An Introduction for Political Education" by RADAR.
  •  Racism against Sinti*zze and Rom*nja (in German): The Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation on its terminology, functioning and spelling.

  • The white spot“ (in German): Book by Mohamed Amjahid on the effects of white privilege, including helpful tips for anti-racist thinking and action.
  • Plantation Memories“: A compilation of short stories about everyday episodes of racism, written by Grada Kilomba.
  • Racism: Over 500 years of misanthropy.(in German): Podcast episode of Deutschlandfunk Nova with Aladin El-Mafaalani on the historical classification of misanthropy.
  • Tupodcast“ (in German): Podcast by Tupoka Ogette. Conversations between Black women on topics such as living, loving, inspiring, writing, grief, hope, racism, empowerment and much more.
  • Halbe Kartoffl“ (in German): Podcast by Frank Joung features a series of conversations with Germans who have non-German roots and talk about their experiences and lives.
  • Basics-Wiki: Basic knowledge on racism“: The basic-wiki explains all the basic terms relating to racism.
  • White privileges“: Checklist by Peggy McIntosh for reflecting your own privileges.
  • Connecting the dots – Geschichte(n) von Unterdrückung und Widerstand“: E-learning tool on postcolonial and power-critical perspectives of history.
  • ExitRacism“ (in German): (Audio) book by Tupoka Ogette with a focus on the history of racism, particularly with regard to Germany and an introduction to the topic of racism and what it has to do with oneself. The target group are people without experience of racism.