Tue

Jul

1921:03

Silencing the guns

 
A Black Lives Matter protest was held in Copenhagen last week following police shootings in the United States, which also drew attention to the need to revive a Danish discourse about race relations

“Let it rain. Let freedom reign”

As the words thundered across City Hall Square, the sky above the Danish capital suddenly opened up and the rain started pouring down on the 500 people who had gathered to commemorate the latest victims of police violence in the United States – Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Alva Braziel.

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Protest organisers Sade Johnson and Mary Namagambe argue the recent shootings in the United States present an opportunity to confront issues of inequality and racism within the Danish society, where they say public racist slurs are commonplace and political parties across the spectrum have adopted cultural racism as an integral part of their platforms.

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Writer Lesley-Ann Brown spoke at the event, and argued that cultural racism flourishes in Denmark due to a lack of public scrutiny on the challenges faced by people of colour.

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Photo: Aleksander Klug

“Working within the school system, I have seen children being called the n-word by their teachers. That is violence, and it is violence when the politicians decide to use that word,” she said in her speech.

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Photo: Aleksander Klug

While Denmark has traditionally been regarded as a liberal and tolerant country, placing a high value on social equality and social cohesion, I think it hasn’t escaped the wave of racism and xenophobia that has swept over continental Europe following the refugee crisis.

IMG_0007

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Ethnic minorities are continually problematized in the Danish media as both a threat to Danish social cohesion and welfare. I worry that this negative reporting has fed the ‘unconscious grammar’ of cultural racism – subtle, ingrained and institutional preferential treatment for white Danes over their non-white counterparts.

IMG_0004

Photo: Aleksander Klug

So it’s not so strange to have a protest in Copenhagen over American police killings. Racism and bigotry is something we need to think about too. M

IMG_0003

Photo: Aleksander Klug

Photo: Aleksander Klug

News

By Aleksander Klug

A freelance visual journalist and political correspondent. Aleksander reports on social justice issues and European politics. @aleksander_klug

Facebook comments