In France, government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye was offended by what suggests that including racial data in the national database could allow policymakers to “measure and look at reality as it is” , while in Germany a new independent census initiative is launched at the end of the month to document the realities of life for blacks and other ethnic minorities.
Unlike the UK, where the census forms allow participants to identify themselves as “White, Mixed / Multiple Ethnicities, Asian British Asians, Black / African / Caribbean / Black British, Another ethnic group”, statistical surveys in Germany do not offer you the category “person of foreign origin” – a partially dependent fudge, in 2015, of the Germans’ sensitivity around racial classification and speech Rasse, which in German also refers to the breed of animals.
“Unlike English, where” race “is now increasingly used to denote a social construct, the German word Rasse still denotes organic essence, “said Daniel Gyamerah, the president of Each Berlin-based One Teach One Community Empowerment Project.
Last Sunday, about 8,000 people formed a socially distant human chain in Berlin to protest racism and social injustice, but with a lack of statistics on the experience of people of color, in Germany, the debate around institutional racism has remained vague.
“When it comes to statistics to shed light on racism, Germany is stuck in the stone age,” said Gyamerah. “We just don’t have the data. And that makes it easy for the people here who argue that institutional racism is a unique problem for the United States or the United Kingdom. ”
“Compiling statistics based on the background migrant population is not enough,” said Karamba Diaby, one of only two black deputies in the current German parliament. “Statistical surveys tell us little about whether a group is discriminated against or not.”
The problem is that the “immigrant” category does not include Germans whose parents or even grandparents were born in Germany, but who may still experience discrimination on the basis of their color of skin or their name.
“You have white Germans with an Austrian immigrant, who have no experience of discrimination in housing or the labor market, for example,” Diaby said. “On the other hand, you have black Germans who have no experience of migration, but still experience of discrimination. We need to start collecting anti-discrimination data. ”
According to a new report by the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS), the number of cases of discrimination on the basis of race increased by 10% in 2019, although the actual figures are probably much higher than the of 1,176 cases listed.
The ADS only record self-reported cases of discrimination, and since, unlike some of its European counterparts, equal treatment Germany does not have the right to take these cases to court or feedback in the legislative process, the incentives for victims to ask, it is relatively weak.
One attempt to fill the gaping holes in Germany’s self-portrait statistics is Afrozensus, an online survey launched at the end of June that will try to paint a representative picture of racial discrimination, in trying to reach participants through community groups and church organizations.
The situation is similar to neighboring France, where the country collects no census or other official data on the race or ethnicity of its citizens. As well as French anti-racism groups such as SOS Racisme have argued against ethnicity data, saying it would not only be unconstitutional but encourage prejudice .
France considers itself “colorblind” and has often legislative for this purpose, more recently in 1978. Strong resistance to race data remains high on the grounds that it would be contrary to secular republican principles and the recall of Vichy, era of identity documents.
Investigations may ask related questions specifically authorized to do so, but an attempt by former President Nicolas Sarkozy to allow the government to identify inequalities and adjust public order, by “measuring diversity ”Has been defeated. Similar calls by CRAN, an umbrella organization for the black community of groups, have failed to gain traction in the past.
This week, the Ndiaye intervention, however, could be the signal for a change in the debate. Ndiaye, who was born in Senegal, argued in a letter to the newspaper Le Monde that France should take a closer look at “people of color are represented”, later to say radio station France Inter Raciale data could help to fight “subtle racism”.
These statistics could help “reconcile the two strands of our society that are still popular,” she said. “Those who tell you,” People of color have access to nothing, and those who tell you, “The problem does not exist. “”
However, two of the government’s key ministers quickly expressed their opposition to the proposal and an advisor to Emmanuel Macron, said the president did not wish to return to the issue “at the moment”. Macron was said to “support concrete action to combat discrimination, rather than a fresh debate on a rare subject for quick return and the results are visible”.
In Germany, as in France, some have called for a radical reform of data collection following the British model. The Nazis’ use of population registers in organizing the Holocaust made modern Germany particularly aware of what can happen when data, as well as gathered with good intentions, falls between bad hands.
While the Afrozensus project receives funding from the state, through ADS of equal treatment, the data it collects will remain on its own encrypted servers, paying attention to privacy.
“There are good reasons why the British approach to collecting data on ethnic origin could not be transplanted directly to Germany,” said Joshua Kwesi Aikins, political scientist at the University of Kassel who is behind the initiative. “But the experience that the UK has had with the public sector in its duty of equality is very relevant – it may be a basic principle.”