The term “race” should be removed from the German constitution, two leading Green politicians said Monday. In recent weeks, Germany has seen widespread anti-racism protests and dialogue around systemic racism in a German context following the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US.
“We have to unlearn racism,” Green co-chair Robert Habeck and party vice-president for the state of Schleswig-Holstein Aminata Touré wrote in the German daily Taz. “Racism is also a German phenomenon. As a black woman and a white man we are affected differently by this, but it affects us all.”
“The word race should be removed from the Basic Law,” they added. “There is no such things as race, there are only people.”
Germany’s Basic Law is the country’s constitution, penned in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, and so goes to great lengths to forbid the Nazi regime’s worst crimes.
“No person shall be favored or disfavored because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavored because of disability,” section 3 of Article 3 says.
Habeck and Touré argue that the term race implies the existence of different categories of people, claiming it undermines another key clause of the Basic Law: “All people are equal before the law.”
The politicians did not suggest a replacement word or an exact alteration.
The word “Rasse” in German, rendered as “race” in the official translation of German law, is described in the German Duden dictionary as dated and potentially discriminatory. It also has an ambiguity not as present for the word “race” in English; as it can also refer to different breeds of animals.