How did you feel about white supremacy?

"Potato" is not a self-designation - HUch # 91

| by Phu Nguyen |

The terms "Alman" and "Potato" can be heard from all sides at the moment. However, little attention is paid to how problematic it is when white-German people acquire these identities.

Since I've been organizing myself politically, in White-dominated political groups and who put my political emphasis on anti-racism and intersectionality, I often meet white People who use the term "potato" or "alman" to describe themselves. Statements like »Our group is already very potato« or »Is it okay if we bring you potatoes to your BIPoC[1] Support an event? «I encounter on a regular basis. So I hear the words a lot - both from BIPoCs and from white People. What I particularly remember, however, are the looks of the white People who usually look at me expectantly after one of the terms has been mentioned. This usually leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

I have had many conversations with BIPoC friends in which we asked ourselves whether "potato" is not the "K-word" for white People are: "K-word" because it seemed as if only white People use the term and are allowed to appropriate it. In these discussions, my discomfort with the label was often also about. For a long time, however, I was unable to name what exactly triggers this feeling and what I perceive as wrong about it. My criticism only became clearer to me in a conversation with another PoC friend. We collected 'features of one white left tick ", spoke about the use of the" potato "term in these contexts and came to the following conclusion:" These people call themselves potatoes in order to feel less attacked! "I want to build on this discussion and try to explain why, unfortunately, it is rather disagreeable and, above all, self-righteous to consider yourself white and German socialized person to acquire a potato identity and thus contribute to the discourse white Open up self-designations, which so far have mainly been used by white People is led quite rashly.

Colonialism and Racist Continuities

The struggle for the right to exist for marginalized identities and the liberation from oppression by white has existed since colonialism - that is, for at least 500 years. Our resistance and liberation struggles always went with the global, from white caused and operated tyranny. That fact has the White-German Left meanwhile also understood and tried to show solidarity, for example when it comes to climate justice or racist politics at the European level.

But colonialism is not only evident in the stolen goods in German museums and the display of the culture of blacks, indigenous people and people of color, but also in the language of anti-racism and its political treatment. Colonial-racist continuities still run through schools, language, institutions, ascriptions of beauty, politics, our own relationships and into our own unconscious. Against this background, the reactions of the German government and society to migration are often unsurprising: The German migration discourse is pervaded by racist attributions such as "potential rapists", "terrorists" and "drug dealers" - to name just a few examples.

But with the waves of migration in the history of the FRG, which opened up various diaspora identities and narratives, new anti-racist debates have been triggered again and again in Germany. Through these discourses, in which those affected now and then also have their say, it became and becomes clear how many different generations of migrants suffer from right-wing extremism, everyday exclusion, racist police violence and sanctions by institutions and offices.

Self-designations as liberation

Against the background of this suffering, it becomes clear why identities like BIPoC are important self-names. This has less to do with demarcating one white Society, but more and primarily with a battle term that opposes one white and neo-colonial narrative and against attempts at division through racism - and actively. In order to be able and allowed to acquire such an identity at all, it took years of anti-racist collective work, for example in the context of the segregation laws in the USA. It was and is black people who coined, established and used these terms in the public discourse in order to oppose colonial continuities and the structures of violence whiter Fight domination and oppression.

To explain this again more clearly: what racism does to us as a society is that it separates us all from one another and helps to put us in two opposing positions: one of domination and one of oppression. This is also reinforced, for example, by racist ascriptions and insults: the N-word, the K-word, the Z-word and the F-word are variations of the same racist language. Privileged positions are often named or not named at all because they are the norm - and the norm is invisible.

But like all forms of oppression, racism does not and does not exist without the dominant one white Position. »Bio-German«, »Potato«, »Alman« and »White" are all terms that serve to name this invisible and violent position and to criticize its construction. However, they are by no means racist insults because they are not set out of a structural position of power that oppresses and exploits people. These are terms used by BIPoC people from their suppressed perspective for the designation whiter People used to make the oppression verbally visible.

It is correspondingly problematic when white People acquire these terms. Because they are trying to reinterpret - in the form of a weakening - of terms that have nothing to do with any form of liberation, and thus exercise double violence: They take BIPoC the interpretive sovereignty over terms that take on meaning in the anti-racist liberation struggle and claim them the self-empowerment of appropriation for themselves, even though they are already in the more powerful position.

How important the processes of appropriation are for BIPoC, on the other hand, is shown by the fact that racism not only hierarchizes society, but also separates us from ourselves, together with capitalism and other systems of oppression, and thus makes us lonely. To acknowledge an identity and a position individually - to appropriate them - is therefore a long, painful but also liberating process, which BIPoC has to deal with all of their life. While white Structurally speaking, people can usually decide for themselves who they want to be, go through life without fear and engage in activism that is often far less dangerous for them than for BIPoC, many (post) migrants struggle with serious, everyday issues Obstacles. Years of pain, constant cross-border experiences of violence and daily micro-aggressions lead to burnout and have severe psychological consequences.

It freed me to initially work as a PoC, then as part of the BIPoC community, then as a Woman of Color, then as an Asian-German person and finally as a asian to designate myself and to decouple myself from insults like "Schl * tzauge" and "F ** dschi" and ascriptions like sweet, polite, hardworking, submissive, introverted and shy. It was extremely important for me to learn and to recognize that I alone decide who and what I am in this world.

This made it possible for me to return to parts of myself that I had to repress and separate from myself through the racism I experienced. It is a liberation that I allow myself to escape the everyday experiences of violence to which I am so often powerlessly subjected. At the same time, my self-designation also means that I show solidarity with people who share similar realities of life, identity crises and perspectives. By coming together through our self-names, we implement an empowerment approach that comes from previous generations of struggles of blacks, indigenous peoples and people of color: the so-called "BIPoC Safer Spaces", i.e. protected spaces in which marginalized people share their experiences in a majority society Share with each other and do community building. In BIPoC rooms we can be seen, meet one another, heal together and become resistant. So when I say: "I am Asian and find myself in the BIPoC term and its community", then I am showing that my existence is political.

Are we turning the tables ?!

Many privileged and left-wing privileged people criticize identity-political work and accuse the actors and marginalized people of demarcation and reactionary political positions. Often this goes hand in hand with the argument that this form of work hinders joint struggles. In the course of this criticism, however, it often happens that marginalized, BIPoC, (post) migrant and FLINT *[2] People who are active in identity politics white left spaces are excluded. I then often ask myself: Are these "Almans only" or "Potato only" rooms that white Should Germans empower? Because sometimes it seems to me that I would White-German people create exactly these spaces without reflection and unconsciously, because they feel attacked and excluded by BIPoC Safer Spaces.

Something similar happens when white People hear or read like BIPoC people words like WhiteUse, »bio-deutsch«, »potato« and »alman«: you become embarrassed, red, insecure, silent, look away and wait until the unpleasant moment is over. These mechanisms show that white People are very reluctant to let go of their privileged position of determination: control and power over the racism discourse and over their own white Identity should be regained. Because it's weird for white privileged people when they are "reduced" to their privileged positions. Building a white So potato identity works here as an unconscious defense mechanism. Examples of this are moments in which white Meeting people at BIPoC and trying to defuse the potato names of BIPoCs by anticipating jokes about Almans themselves or by sending Alman memes back and forth to deal with their own discomfort with "reflected" inside jokes - so that it almost feels like Community building feels like.

However, this is more than fatal, because with an "alman" and "potato" being there is always one white What is meant is being German, which the named persons should not ironically elude. Because White Being in Germany means having been socialized in a racist way in any case - from remnants of National Socialist ideology to the ubiquitous anti-migration discourse. Being German as an identity - even as a potato identity - sounds to me unreflective, reactionary and right-wing. And to emphasize one more important point here: That too white Leftists who supposedly make anti-racist claims of themselves and want to position themselves clearly against fascists and new rights cannot be spared this criticism.

Learn solidarity at eye level

The white So the left is no less free from the reproduction of racist continuities than the majority society is. That there is more to reflecting on privileges than to Black Lives MatterGoing to demos and recognizing that there is no racism opposite white there should be consensus by now. Therefore would have to white Leftists also understand that referring to yourself as a "potato" or "alman" does not automatically make you an ally. Because behind this is the imagination that you can talk and stand with BIPoCs and (post) migrants on an equal footing because you are ultimately aware of being a potato or an alman.

white In doing so, however, people are again depriving marginalized people of the authority to interpret terms in the anti-racist discourse: they are depriving them of the power to determine how they want to fight against racism - and they are concealing their own position as oppressors. In doing so, they should learn to step back in order to create space for their voices, language and realities of life for marginalized positions instead of appropriating them again. It shows up far too often White-Being already by the fact that it is taken for granted to acquire other cultures and to take whatever place you want at any time (# colonial continuities).

There must be consequences for this suppressive behavior white People never really wear: You, as white Person, can paint you black, can braid dreads or even make Nazi jokes, and yours white Friends laugh about it with you. But you are not part of something just because you reappropriate concepts of identity from marginalized groups. Stop dodging the discomfort that your privileged position brings with it. Stop gaining control over foreign labels. Neither “Alman” nor “Potato” is an empowering or associating self-designation under white - and shouldn't be. So if you are a white People appropriate these terms, then veils and denies their origin and the years of struggle for identities and for a self-determined society.

What white Therefore, people should really learn is that not every term and every space is open to them. Instead of ironically calling itself potatoes, the should white Left learn to use terms like BIPoC and racism and recognize racist experiences. They should stop taking BIPoCs' terms and the emancipation that goes with them, they should learn to leave the discourse about racism to other people and start to endure the unpleasant feelings about their own privilege. That means your own white To put back fragility, the own spaces for non-white To open up people not to criticize BIPoC for their anti-racist treatment and their protective spaces, but instead to help them to make such spaces possible. And it means living solidarity - not only on a structural level, but also on an emotional and personal level.


[1] BIPoC is a self-designation and means »Black, Indigenous, People of Color«.

[2] FLINT * is a self-designation and means »women, lesbians, inter *, nonbinary *, trans * people«.