Whether in Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne or Wolfsburg: the M-word is still present on street and business signs. A Cologne student calls for a rethink.
Frankfurt / Cologne – From chocolate logos and street names to the naming of pharmacies in almost every major German city: Germany is discussing the future or the extinction of a term that is commonly known only as “the M-word”. The outdated term “Mohr”, which originated in times of colonization, is repeatedly criticized – and it is repeatedly defended by parts of society: partly for racist reasons, partly because it appears harmless to people.
Now another student from Cologne has called for the term from the colonial era to be dealt with, the racist origin of which many Germans are now also aware of. “In German-speaking countries, the M-word has been used for centuries as a name for black people who were kidnapped and enslaved by white people during the colonial era. If you walk past such a pharmacy every day like me as a black man, it hurts, ”Jamal Coulibaly justifies the demand that the RTL format“ Punkt 12 ”made public.
Linguistic rethinking as a means against racism in everyday life also in Frankfurt
The word “Mohr” has its origins in the Greek “mauros” for “black”, or in the Latin “maurus” (dt. Black, dark) and was used during the time of German colonization in Africa for the people who were enslaved there and abducted. Historically, many questions from this time have been dealt with over the last few decades, but the M-word has remained.
And this despite several attempts to initiate a linguistic rethinking in the fight against everyday racism: In Frankfurt, the municipal foreigners’ representation (KAV) last called for the renaming of two Mohren pharmacies in 2018 *, the city’s magistrate rejected the application but on the grounds from * that there was no way to “work towards the renaming of a private company”.
Hate messages after the demand for a name change in the fight against everyday racism
A request in Berlin, according to which Mohrenstrasse in the Mitte district should be renamed, ran differently. According to reports from the Tagesspiegel, the city government decided to rename it in the spring of this year; the BVG transport company had already renamed the corresponding underground station in 2020. In the future, the street is to be called Anton-Wilhelm-Amo-Straße and thus commemorate the first German legal scholar and philosopher with dark skin. Anton Wilhelm Amo came to Germany as a child in 1707 as a slave.
It remains to be seen whether Jamal Coulibaly’s request can trigger similar effects. After the first media reports on his request, the student spoke up on the Tik Tok social media platform and emphasized his surprise at how many hateful messages had reached him in the past few hours. However, he does not let that discourage him: “As long as people are hurt and you can change that, why shouldn’t you do it?” (Sandra Kathe) * fr.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA