Thursday, August 13, 2009

Racist poster of German Green party

"The only reason to vote black", the poster states. In German: "Der Einzige Grund Schwartz zu wahlen." The image of two white hands on the buttocks of a black woman complete the statement. Is this the poster of some right wing German organisation? Is it an awareness campaign , or is it a joke?

It is a local political campaign pamphlet of the Green Party in Germany. Because black is the colour of the German Conservative party, the poster is used - according to the party – to break the absolute majority of the Conservative party CDU in the region. So it just means, don't vote conservative?

But why use the image of black woman in this way? Black German organisations call the poster racist and sexist, but the German party sees no harm in it. They even see it as provocative. In a press release they state: "The Green Party in particular have politics which stand out for their commitment to tolerance, *Weltoffenheit *and equality." Weltoffenheit is a German concept that is meant to symbolise inclusiveness, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. And, "Indeed, this poster could be seen to be "anti-racist" since we have received exactly this feedback from people with a migration background." See the full translated press statement here.

On their blogs Afro-Germans express their grief about the poster. On the blog of the black media watch organisation ‘der braune mob’ most people see it as blatant racism. Others see the fact that party stated “people with a migration background” as a sign that the party makes a sharp distinction between ‘Germans’ and others.

Unfortunately the German Green party still doesn't see that that their multicultural awareness is in sharp contrast to the awareness to other Green parties. At least those who claim to embrace multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. I don't think that similar parties in the Netherlands, France, the UK or in the US would see such a poster as an expression of diversity.

But it’s clear that the Green party in Germany knows how to connect to ‘its own people’ to achieve its goals. I’ am afraid that my biased Dutch opinion about Germany may even be true.

But what does "the only reason to vote black" really mean. In my view the Green Party probably meant to say, that conservative voters are only interested in foreigners if it has to do with sex. The word "black" refers to the colour of German Conservative party, and the image of a black woman might refer to foreigners. But the offical explanation is, that the poster is meant to highlight the Greens' support for same-sex partnerships. But why use a black woman?

The Greens actually think the poster can be seen as anti-racist. But the reality is that they without any shame exploit racial stereotypes of black women for political goals. I don’t think the party would even consider of using racial stereotypes of Jewish people. But the image of naked black woman is in their world view something they can use without serious consequences.

Also read: German Green Party Defends 'Racist' Campaign Poster

(Special thanks to the media watch organisation Der Braune Mob for supplying the translated press release)

5 comments:

  1. Wow.

    This one is a head-scratcher. The only reason to vote black? I don't get it at all, and their explanation isn't good enough. I can't think of any sensible reason for this, other than to create controversy. Or they're just simply ignorant. Or both. I can only imagine the kind of blowback this would generate stateside.

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  2. Thanks for the reply. It was a head-scratcher for me too. I am sure that you know the answer by now, but it's clear that readers don't see the clue when they first see the image. So I added my explanation in the post. So thanks again for the comment!

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  3. I think if it was posted in the US, African-American community would go crazy about it, and probably sue them...

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  4. Yeah I really have to agree with the last comment. There's absolutely no reason for them to draw a connection between sex and race and these political parties. i.e. the allegory does work literally in terms of colors, but the imagery is extremely inflammatory. Nothing positive can come of this. There's not a chance that this would fly in America because the black community is so much larger and more prominent here. I think it's extremely unfortunate that the Green Party is unapologetic about this. Hopefully the black community will be able to raise some attention about this topic.

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  5. To vote and to choice are the same word in German. So the posters say "the only reason to choice Black". It's a pun. Maybe you should learn about other cultures and there symbols before you condemn them.

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