“What are you doing do you think the Covid-19 speed is for us? “This is the question that many black people living in Berlin asked me in early March 2020. The answer: We do not know. Unlike other countries , in particular the United States and the United Kingdom, the German government does not record racial identity information in official documents and statistics. Because of the country’s history with the Holocaust, call Race (race) by its name has long been challenged.
For some, data that focuses on race without taking into account intersecting factors such as class, neighborhood, environment, or genetics is with hidden deception because it may not be able to encapsulate the many elements that affect well-being. Similarly, some information makes it difficult to categorize a person into one identity: A multiracial person may not want to choose one racial group, one of many riddles that complicate the term demography. There is also the element of trust. If there are reliable statistics documenting race data and health in Germany, then what will be done about it, and what does it mean for the government to potentially access, collect or use this information? As with the story of artificial intelligence, characters often capture the experiences of poorly black people or are often abused. Would people trust that the German government will prioritize the interests of ethnic or racial minorities and other marginalized groups, especially with regard to health and medicine?
Nevertheless, the absence of data collection around racial identity may obscure how certain groups may be disproportionately affected by a disease. Race self-identities can be a marker for data researchers and public health officials to understand the frequency or trends of diseases, whether it is breast cancer or Covid-19. Race data have been useful in understanding inequalities in many contexts. In the United States, statistics on maternal mortality and race have been a sign of revealing how African Americans are disproportionately affected, and have since been a compelling basis for changing behaviors, resources, and policies on birth practices.
In 2020, the educational association Every One Teach One launched in partnership with Citizens for Europe Afrozensus, the first large-scale sociological study of black people living in Germany, where they asked about employment, housing and health – part of a deeper insight into the ethnic composition of this group and the institutional discrimination to which they may be exposed. Of 5,000 people who participated in the study, just over 70 percent were born in Germany, where the other top four are the United States, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Germany’s Afro – German population is heterogeneous, a reflection of an African diaspora that originated from various migrations, whether it be Fulani people from Senegal or descendants of slaves from America. “Black,” as identity, does not grasp and cannot grasp the cultural and linguistic richness that exists among the people who fit into this category, but it may be part of a tableau for gathering common experiences or systematic inequalities. “I think the Afrozensus did not reveal anything that black people did not already know,” said Jeff Kwasi Klein, project manager for Every One Teach. “Yes, there is discrimination in all walks of life.” shows that ignoring Race has not allowed racial minorities to remove prejudice in Germany.
The thought of Europeans could use the term “Race” was not uncommon in the 18th century. In fact, some of the most acclaimed scientists of the time not only used the term, but created a pseudo-scientific rubric to codify humans. The German physician and naturalist Johann Blumenbach coined the term “Caucasian” in his 1775 publication About the natural variants of humanity, where he classified people into five races. His colleague, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, followed suit and constructed a taxonomy for humans in four different variants: Europeans, Americans, Africans, and Asians. Zoé Samudzi notes that under the auspices of colonialism, German scientists such as Eugen Fischer resorted to using color charts and hair textures of mixed people in German African colonies to justify antimiscegenation and eugenicist claims. Fischer’s work would later inform the Nazi racial classification system and the Nuremberg Laws, which claimed that German identity was based on jus sanguinis, not place of birth. The exclusion of Jewish and African descendants from Germany also meant that the Nazi state discouraged interracial marriages. IN Superior: The Return of Race Science, Angela Saini proved that the misconception that some racial categories are superior to others is not a relic of the pseudo-scientific past, but a phenomenon that Euro-American societies have struggled with throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Instead of fixating on strict, formal racial categories, many contemporary scientists are instead trying to apprehend human movement and human ecosystems. Evolutionary biologists have shown that cultural adaptations mean far more than phenotype. Skin color, which relates to the distribution of melanin in the skin, has been associated with early human settlements relative to the equator. Not surprisingly, the closer people settled to the equator, the more melanin there was in their skin, and the farther away from the equator, the lighter the skin. If we look at another factor that is also based on the environment, we find that skin color – which is only sometimes correlated with race – is an arbitrary category to define human difference. One condition, sickle cell anemia, is a mutation that occurs in people affected by malaria, which is more prominent in climates with heavy rainfall. This leads people to believe that individuals with sickle cell characteristics are descended from ancestors who had to deal with the malaria parasite in places such as. central India, eastern Saudi Arabia and equatorial Africa. If we were to group people together with traits that dealt with environmental conditions, such as the sickle cell trait, would our categories of racializing people change? Science is a bricolage in which no single gene or trait can explain human evolution. Whether to use the term “Race” in the German constitution – no matter the issue of data collection – is a direct dispute that tries to complicate history with the lived reality.