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How to deal with racism in Germany?

Like most countries in the Western world, Germany has a number of laws protecting people from different backgrounds. It is everybody's basic human right to feel safe at home and outside, and not be bullied or discriminated against in any way.

That being said, unfortunately racism and xenophobia are something that still exist in German society.

That is why we want to remind you some practical everyday pointers for staying safe:

  • Know how to pick your battles. Yes, we always want to resolve things and come out as the winner. That is a pretty universal human trait. But it's not always the most effective or safe way of doing things. Keep your personal safety and sanity as your first priority. If you're on a train and someone makes inappropriate comments - move yourself from that situation and find a different seat etc. Yes, it shouldn't be you who feels they need to leave and ideally people would step up to the bully and help you out, but unfortunately oftentimes that doesn't happen. The most important thing is that you are safe.

  • A lot of people of colour already come to Germany with the impression that Germany has a lot of racism. But this idea can backfire quite easily - in short you`ll see racism in everything, even if it's not actually there and in reality you're dealing with a simple misunderstanding.

Try to keep in mind that all cultures are different and something you`re used to is done/presented differently in Germany. That's just a cultural difference and often has nothing to do with your race.

  • Don't try to be the hero. Like we said - know how to pick your battles. Your safety and wellbeing is and should be your first priority. Behave yourself with integrity and be well-mannered - leading by example is the best way to prove people wrong in their misconceptions. Most racism is due to ignorance, not actual hatred. So you living every day as a good example will teach people to revisit their ignorance and change it.

As a general rule of thumb the situation is better in bigger cities (Berlin and Cologne being the most liberal and open minded ones in Germany) that smaller cities and countryside (people in less populated places simply haven't had as much exposure to different races, nationalities and religions).

Other multi-cultural and welcoming places are university towns with high numbers of foreign students.

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