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Welcome to AK UniWatch\'s blog - Fighting Racism in our Spaces!

UniWatch is a student initiative active against racism at german universities.

With this blog, we hope to work against the invisibility of this subject and build a platform for people impacted by racist incidents and others who no longer wish to sit silently by as racist structures and subject matter are perpetrated in our academic spaces.

On this site you can...

...report a racist incident at your university.

...contact us when you want support for an intervention.

...find out which other organizations offer advice to targets of racist attacks.

...inform yourself about racism generally and at the university specifically, critical self-positioning and much more.

find out more about AK UniWatch and our work.

find out how you can support or join us.

...find literature tips on the subjects; racism, (critical) whiteness, ect. and links to organizations that are involved in the fight against racism.

...contact us per email if you have suggestions, questions or comments.

AK UNIWATCH IS LOOKING FOR NEW MEMBERS*

November 7, 2016
UniWatch is a student initiative fighting against racism at German universities. Our aim is to make the issue visible by building a platform for people negatively impacted by racism and others who can no longer  stay silent about the racist structures and teaching materials in our  academic spaces.
 
Our strategy: documentation – intervention – communication.
 
In order to stay active and approachable we are looking for new people or groups who wish to join and organize the initiative.
 
AK UniWatch was founded in 2009 by Black, POC, and white students and has been made up by different and changing members with different positionings ever since. We currently position ourselves as POC, jewish, and white.
 
If you feel addressed and are interested in joining and organizing the initiative please contact us!
For this purpose, we want to invite you to our next network meeting on 1st of december at 6.30 pm at Pfeiffers (Oranienstraße 17 Kreuzberg). There are many groups and individuals who do great work against racism at the universities/ in science. Our work is super important and a small exchange here and there could strengthen us all. We want to use this opportunity to discuss our topics, struggles, processes, etc.. If you feel like coming by, let us know.
 
CONTACT:
UNI_WATCH@YAHOO.DE
 

Open Letter about Racist Incidents during Philosophy Lectures at FU Berlin in Summer Semester 2014

December 1, 2014

To all the FU Berlin staff,

We, AK Uniwatch, are a student anti-racism group which works to combat racism in Berlin universities. With this open letter we would like to inform you of the following racist incidents which occurred at the FU and to express our outrage regarding them.

In the summer semester 2014, during an FU Philosophy Institute lecture, there were multiple racist incidents in the form of the use of racist speech. During said lecture, the white lecturer made use of the N-word multiple times. This word is violent and traumatizing (see Grada Kilomba) and has a direct relationship to colonialism and racist constructions.

–––The N-word is a hierarchical attribution, which underlines past (and contemporary) racist power structures. It is very closely bound with white concepts and estimations of black people (e.g. “primitiveness” and “inferiority”). Black people and People of Color are, according to this white conception, marked as “the other”. In this way, white people are construed as the “normal”, “neutral” or “objective”, upon which black “otherness” is projected. In white academic spaces, ostensible objectivity or academic rigor is the highest rule—everything is allowed in the name of academia. Racist, sexist, ableist, and classist language are all used and tolerated in the name of “academia,” as long as the white meanings dominate: the white academy decides what is useable and what isn’t. This gives the white academia the power of definition, which coincides with the historical strategy of oppression of marginalized people, and serves as a sign of the hegemonic paradigm of the university. Language is not separate from this oppressive reality, and indeed language functions as a representation thereof (see Stuart Hall). The repetition of racist words such as the N-word in the name of academia leads to the naturalization and normalization of the word and its reproductions functions as legitimation.–––

The lecturer gave students position statements as learning material which had racist terms and reproduced racist speech acts and “jokes”. Instead of critically engaging with harmful language, which was allegedly what the course was about, there were repeated instances of racist content which were normalized, accepted, and/or ignored. It is not necessary to use and reproduce hurtful language when discussing and analyzing their effect and power. Moreover, it is crucial to reflect on the positions of the speakers and the spoken to in this context. This did not occur in the course, in fact, the opposite is the case. Everyday racism was not focused on in an appropriate and informed manner but rather perpetuated. It is also apparent that the white professor was unaware and/or unwilling to reflect on the important fields of critical race theory and critical whiteness, which are essential for dealing with racist mechanisms and racist language.

No coping with criticism and a defensive stance against responsibility

As an anti-racist student group we decided to react to these numerous incidents and handed out flyers to the participants of the course. In our flyer we stated that the use of the N-word by white people is a racist act and elaborated on why that is the case (we included the text written in the Flyer above, between the dashes). The white lecturer as well as the majority of the white participants chose to react in a very defensive and aggressive way instead of dealing with our criticism and intervention constructively. The white lecturer made clear that they controlled the power of definition and also controlled which words could be used and reproduced, by whom, and how. In addition, the lecturer attempted to present our criticism as baseless and badly informed. Some white students accused us of being defamers and agitators as well as racist ourselves. This allegation is based on the unreflective assumption that power relations and racism can simply be reversed and echoes a white defense mechanism that is commonly used by those that discriminate to deny their own discriminating behavior and responsibility. There is no reverse racism against white people because racism is based on hegemonic power relations and a centuries’ long history of the systemic oppression of Black people and People of Color (see Toni Morrison).

 

We demand, that lecturers at the philosophical Institute of the FU desist using the N-word in their classes in the future.

In order to avoid racist incidents and defense strategies (like what occurred in the incident above) we demand that individual lecturers as well as the philosophical Institute as a whole deal with Critical Whiteness.

AK Uniwatch

This open letter is supported by:

 

  • Adefra e.V. – Schwarze Frauen in Deutschland
  • Africavenir International
  • Afrika Zentrum e.V.
  • AFROTAK TV cyberNomads
  • Berlin Postkolonial e.V.
  • Frauenreferat des AStA FU
  • gLADT e.V.
  • LesBiTrans*InterA-Referat des AStA FU
  • LesMigraS – Lesbenberatung Berlin e.V.
  • Referat für Antifaschismus und Antirepression des AStA der Beuth-Hochschule
  • Fatima El-Tayeb
  • Lann Hornscheidt
  • Emily Ngubia Kuria
  • Alyosxa Tudor

An Examination of Racism in Berlin Academia (german and english)

November 10, 2011

15. November 2011

17:00 – 19:30 Uhr

In this dialogue round, the question of which racist forms of inclusion or exclusion are practiced within Berlin academia will be closely examined. The following questions will be looked into: Who has academic authority? Which topics are discussed? Who is qualified to be cited? Whose expertise and language is academically recognized? Whose expertise is suppressed in the process? What forms of racism are found in the realm of scholars and academia, including „international“ study programs? Lastly, the topic of practical and effective steps toward change will be discussed.
Students, professors and all who are interested in sharing experiences and perspectives are invited to join.

Datum / Date: 15.11.2011
Kontakt / Contact_
Yvonne Hylla, Katharina Kersten, Patricia Spina, E-Mail:muriel@zedat.fu-berlin.de
Ort / Place_Migrationsrat Berlin-Brandenburg e. V., Oranienstr. 34, 10999 Berlin
Veranstalter / Organisation_Studierendengruppe des / Student group of the “European Master in Children’s Rights”, FU Berlin

General Students Committee at the Hamburg University puts out racist video

March 6, 2011

The General Students Committee at the Hamburg University have put out a racist video.

Students at the university staged an intervention at the premiere of the film, taking the mic and voicing their opposition, which can bee seen here:

http://www.hwp-netz.de/studierende-erschreckt-von-rassismen-und-sexismen-im-asta-film

Join Uniwatch!

October 28, 2010

We are looking for new Uniwatch members.  If you are interested, please email uni_watch@yahoo.de

Congolese student expelled from Moscow State University after suffering violent racist attack

August 23, 2010

From the Youth Human Rights Movement:
“About Boris:
In the evening of May 9th Boris Desten, a Congolese student of the Moscow State University of Food Production, was attacked on the street by 8 young people when he was coming back from the official celebration of the victory in WWII to his dormitory. According to Boris Desten, he was being beaten up with the cries, which he considered humiliating to his skin colour. Boris called ambulance and the medical certificate from Botkin hospital in Moscow states that he had received abrasions of forehead and the back of the head. A Policemen refused to register his complaint because “it’s Friday and holiday and this is Russia”.
On May 12 Boris got to know that he expelled from the university for the reason of “participation in the incident on 9 May 2010, which ended up with a fight on the dormitory territory”. He was evicted from the dormitory at the same date. Till 29 July the security guard of the dormitory did not allow the student to access his personal belongings. Boris Desten did not possess of any other clothes, except clothes in
his dormitory room. Several days later he was robbed on the street and all his money, cell phone and even shoes were stolen. Visa, that provides Boris Desten with a legal stay in Russia, expires on 24 August, 2010.

He hadn’t any problems with the university administration till that incident and was considered to be a good student with proper marks. Boris had to ask for an asylum, financial and legal support trying to survive in Moscow and to get back his status of a student.

What can be done to protect Boris:

the official appeal can be sent from individuals and organizations on the address on the university;

to inform German universities which cooperate with MSUFP university about this case and to ask them to put a pressure on their partner in Russia;

to call to the university administration and to ask why Boris was expelled;

It will be great if you can inform me of my colleagues (stud-solidarity-desten@yhrm.org) about undertaken actions.

German partners of the university:

*******************

Hohenheim University, Stuttgart, Germany
Postanschrift
Universität Hohenheim
70593 Stuttgart
Telefon:0711 459-0
Telefax: 0711 459-23960
post@uni-hohenheim.de

__________________________________________________________________

Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Post:
TU Dresden
Dezernat 5
TUD-Information
01062 Dresden
Tel.: +49 351 463-37044
Fax: +49 351 463-37284
infostelle@tu-dresden.de
___________________________________________________________

Protest Letter Template

GLOSSARY – Racism

April 24, 2010

Racism is the construction of hierarchically valued differences on the basis of racial identity combined with a historically, socially, politically and economically disproportionate power structure.

Racism is not the same thing as discrimination, racism necessarily includes a societal asymmetrical power imbalance. In her book “Plantation Memories”, Grada Kilomba defines racism as prejudice plus power. Racism often manifests itself in individual racist acts and thoughts, these individual instances cannot however, be separated from the system of privileges and discrimination that allows and encourages them.

GLOSSARY – Critical Whiteness

April 24, 2010

white” does not refer to a homogenous group based on biological facts, as the categories of “race” and ethnicity are socially constructed. Despite this, all attributions resulting from racialization have real consequences and impacts on our lives in the form of discrimination or privilege.

Peggy McIntosh writes, that to be white, means to live your life with an invisible knapsack of societal privileges. These privileges are not earned, but rather ensured through violent structures of dominance. Among others, this “knapsack” holds the privilege of not having to think about racism and usually, not wanting to.

The feminist theologist Eske Wollrad explains that whiteness builds “the heart of racist hegemony”. It is a specific and alterable identity that can be fought for, given and lost. To create and retain this identity, white people constantly bring forth “the others”. This process occurs through multilayered demarcations and attributions with negative connotations. The goal of the creation and sustenance of these categories is the (re)production of white dominance within racialized power structures. In this way, white privilege and violence is legitimized. Through the constant labeling and marking of “the other”, whiteness, as the underlying norm and motor of this process, stays invisible and unmarked. White people appear to be without race and neutral.

GLOSSARY – Racism in Academic Spaces

April 24, 2010

Racism is, when….

…your professor is allowed to show a racist film, but rejects a discussion about it afterwards.

…not a single Black or POC author is present on your list of recommended literature, even when the class is for instance about cultures in African societies.

the professor looks to a Person of Color when talking about China, just because the professor thinks the POC looks “sort of Asian”.

…white students don’t distance themselves actively from racist statements and actions of other white people and in this way participate in a white consensus.

…the same students use the terms “we” and “our” in their papers and presentations instead of identifying their perspectives clearly as white.

…white Scientists lay claims to a universal access to the “Truth”.

…in seminars, people repeatedly use the words “premodern, traditional societies”and“natives”

…upon informing your professor that descriptors like “premodern, traditional societies” are racist, she dismissively replies: “oh, THAT old discussion!”

…someone “praises” you by saying that “for a Turkish person your German is really good”.

…white students suggest to their POC-peers that they are reacting “too emotionally or over-sensitively” in regards to racism.

…you, as a Student of Color, are repeatedly asked “where are you frooom?”

…white students, on the other hand are not typically asked where they come from.

white classmates reproach a Student of Color, by saying that because of hir position as a victim of racism, s/he can’t approach the subject of racism neutrally.

…the N-word is used in a lecture and the white professor tries to justify the use of the racist word by saying that in his youth it was very common.

to be continued…

> send us your sentences about “Racism in academic spaces”!

GLOSSARY – Critical Whiteness Studies

April 24, 2010

Critical Whiteness Studies began in the mid 1980′s in the USA. At this time, white authors and social scientists also started to write critically about whiteness. As Grada Kilomba points out, the examination of whiteness is by no means an invention of white people. On the contrary, the analysis and examination of a white psyche are and have been necessary survival tools for People of Color and Black people since colonial times.

Some of the first Black authors to critically write about whiteness are W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Toni Morrison and bell hooks. Critical whiteness studies differs from “regular” critical race studies in that the focus is changed from analyzing“the other” or individual extreme white supremacists, to an analysis of the (re)production of a white normalcy and the daily violence that accompanies it. It is a perspective reversal from the victims of racism, to the perpetrators (white people) and structures that create and profit from racialization.