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Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng highlights the importance of education to combat racism

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Jerome Boateng spoke about the present situation in both his native Germany and the United States and what can be done in the future to make racism a thing of the past.

Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the worldwide protests that have followed, many Bundesliga players have spoken out against racism. In an interview with DW’s Jonathan Harding, Bayern Munich’s veteran center-back Jerome Boateng spoke about the current events in the United States and parallels he sees in Germany.

Shocked at seeing the death of a man in broad daylight, in a country he has visited many times, Boateng commented, “the case of George Floyd shows us just how widespread racism against black people is in America, and the role racial profiling plays. I find it extremely upsetting because I’m often in America myself and I like the country and the culture a lot.”

Boateng concluded, “Racism is found everywhere, but it is extreme in the USA.”

The extent of the problem in the US is baffling to Boateng in light of the significance of African-American culture. ‘’When you think how much African-Americans have done for the image and culture of the United States, I find it inexplicable,” he said. “And I’m only thinking of sport, fashion, and music. Barack Obama as President was also a defining figure.’’

Boateng was born in West-Berlin 1988 to a German mother and Ghanaian father. He also acknowledged racism in Germany, which he personally endured growing up.

‘’During my childhood in Berlin, I also had experiences with racism, of course,” he said. “But I also remember my time on the football pitch, where it didn’t matter where you came from or what religion you were. We were Iranians, Africans, Turks, Germans. We didn’t really think or talk about it. It was all about being together.’’

Boateng still feels that “people of African heritage are underrepresented in certain areas” of German society, but the 31-year-old defender added that he believes Germany is an open country that compares favorably with others in Europe:

“Fundamentally,” he said, “I think Germany is an open country. Personally, I’ve had a lot of good experiences, too. There are countries in Europe where it’s a lot worse.”

Speaking about the possibility to do some type of initiative to combat this problem in the future, Boateng comments that it is important not to just limit your voice to social media: ‘’What we really need is to really get stuck in and do something, be that working with children or supporting other integration projects. Everybody can help.’’

Boateng concluded by emphasizing education: “Everything begins with the education of children. That’s the most important thing. No child in this world is born a racist. It’s up to the parents and what they tell their children.”

He hopes that the world will be a better place for his own children: ‘’The worst thing that could happen would be for my children to experience such things.” That has to start with education. Boateng said, “It’s vital that we teach them that racism isn’t acceptable and that, should they see someone being abused, they should defend them and speak up. That has to start in school. It has to be an integral part of the curriculum. Only in that way can we make progress.’’