Coalition of Women in German Leadership Statement on Halle

In recognition of the intertwined histories and present manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy

and as feminist scholars within German studies committed to intersectional understandings of social justice,

we condemn the violence that has again come to a head in the last week. We are sorrowed by the attacks against a synagogue and kebab shop in Halle and the resulting deaths on Yom Kippur. Once again, a violent attack has made painfully visible the ways in which white supremacy and heteropatriarchy continue to wield power in our society. The attacks, and the livestream that accompanied them, demonstrate the entanglements of gendered antisemitism, anti-immigrant racism, and misogyny. 

We express our solidarity with Jewish and immigrant communities in Germany. We note that our feminist solidarity with the targets of antisemitic and xenophobic racism must include a commitment to fighting racism and misogyny in all its forms.

We note as well that the calls for more police protection will not solve the problems of white supremacy and racism that create a culture promoting racist violence. Yes, racist violence is a security issue: as are all forms of precarity that expose groups to the threat of violence and death. This is a question of human safety and security. All too often racist thought has proven to inform police action, and police action has so often resulted in targeting communities of color. Ending the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy is a task that requires our broad interventions through our daily actions and interactions; through education; through the speech and discourse we normalize in our culture, whether through art, literature, social media, news media; and through our organized activism.

As a feminist organization, we are committed to teaching and scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. Feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. The systems that promote and rely on racism; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred, and exclusion are interlinked and often support one another. We express our solidarity with all groups who fight these systems of oppression.

This continues to be a painful time for our members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by racist, antisemitic, xenophobic, and misogynist violence – whether as physical threat or verbal aggression. We express our solidarity with all of you. 

Individual acts respond to a social context, one in which hate speech enables and promotes violent actions. We call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacy and heteropatriarchy wherever it is manifest, whether in everyday speech, social media, political discourse, or elsewhere. We cannot allow violent speech to seem “normal.” We cannot allow an atmosphere that enables such horrific violence to continue.

Coalition of Women in German Steering Committee Statement on Islamophobic Violence and the Murders in Christchurch

In recognition of the intertwined histories and present manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy –

And as feminist scholars within German studies committed to intersectional understandings of social justice –

We condemn the Islamophobia, and all forms of white supremacy and racism, that have manifested in this last week in the murders at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, even as we mourn the victims. This is not an incident that has occurred apart from our own location in North America. The 2015 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the 2018 shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the Christchurch murders are all part of white supremacist violence. This violence is not isolated to these individual acts of terror, but rather, a part of a wider structure of racist violence that is enabled and promoted by racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic speech, microaggressions, policies, and policy proposals.

We reiterate: As feminists, it is important to speak out in moments of oppression. We know that this violence is not new, but the murders last week in Christchurch painfully illustrate the ways in which white supremacy and heteropatriarchy continue to wield power in our society. We have joined in public protests, and we will continue to protest and speak out. We recognize that silence becomes complicity.

As a feminist organization, we are committed to scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. We recognize that feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. We recognize that the very existence of German studies in North America cannot be separated from a history of settler colonialism. We recognize that systems that promote and rely on Islamophobia; racism; xenophobia; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; antisemitism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred, and exclusion are interlinked, and often support one another. For our members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by these forms of oppression and violence – whether as physical threat or verbal aggression: we mourn with you and express our solidarity with all groups who work against these systems.

We once again call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacist heteropatriarchy wherever it appears, whether in everyday speech, social media, political discourse, or elsewhere. We cannot allow violent actions, speech and policies to become “normal!” We must interrupt a social context that enables such violence.

Women in German Statement on Antisemitic, Racist, and Transphobic Language and Violence

  • In recognition of the intertwined histories and present manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy –
  • And as feminist scholars within German studies committed to intersectional understandings of social justice –

We condemn the violence that has again come to a head in the last week. We are sorrowed by the murders of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the murders of two African Americans in a Kentucky grocery store, all at the hands of white supremacists. We denounce the symbolic violence that has taken place through the circulation of misinformation about trans people and transphobic language, through antisemitic and racist speech posted in social media and in the physical public, and the ongoing rhetorical attacks targeting immigrants and refugees.

As feminists, it is important to speak out in moments of oppression. We know that this violence is not new, but the convergence of these violences over the last week makes painfully visible the ways in which white supremacy and heteropatriarchy continue to wield power in our society. We have marched and protested, and we will continue to march and protest and speak out. We recognize that silence becomes complicity.

As a feminist organization, we are committed to scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. We recognize that feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. We recognize that systems that promote and rely on racism; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred and exclusion are interlinked, and often support one another. We express our solidarity with all groups who stand against these systems of oppression.

This continues to be a painful time for our members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by racist, antisemitic, xenophobic and transphobic violence – whether as physical threat or verbal aggression. We stand with all of you.

Individual acts respond to a social context, one in which hate speech enables and promotes violent actions. We call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacy and heteropatriarchy wherever it is manifest, whether in everyday speech, social media, political discourse, or elsewhere. We cannot allow violent speech to seem “normal.” We cannot allow an atmosphere that enables such horrific violence to continue.

– Women in German (WiG) Steering Committee

In Memoriam Julie Klassen

Dear Wiggies,

We are heartbroken to hear the news of Julie Klassen’s passing. As we enact change at our institutions in this political climate, we must also remember those who worked tirelessly before us. Julie was a longtime active and activist member of Women in German who frequently attended the annual meetings (and helped script the Cabaret!), took care of printing and mailing the Newsletter for several years, co-organized the 1990 annual meeting, and served as president from 2006-2008. She was a supportive and enthusiastic mentor to many younger Wiggies over the decades of her engagement with the organization. We recall Julie’s work and presence at WiG with fondness and admiration. While we are sad to know that we will no longer see her there, we will celebrate her life and her contributions to our profession. We remember and will remain inspired by her sharp intellect, her generosity, her care for and support of junior faculty, her humour, her commitment to feminism, her work as an activist, and her deep love for literature.

We extend our condolences to those who knew her and her work well.

Sincerely,
Your WiG Team

WiG Statement on Charlottesville

In the spirit of all that the Coalition of Women in German stands for, we condemn the actions of white supremacists, including the recent violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tragically, that violence is not limited to the vicious attack on De’Andre Harris and the murder of Heather Heyer. A newspaper headline in the last days read “Racism never died in Virginia,” but in truth, racism is not just isolated to one location, but indeed, remains very much alive throughout the United States. Charlottesville is but one bitter reminder of the ways that white supremacy persists. The threats against Jews, the uttering of Nazi slogans, and the display of Nazi symbols contribute to a climate in which it has become increasingly acceptable to publicly and violently target people of color and Jews.

As North American German Studies scholars, we are compelled to speak out against the threatening behavior and speech of neo-nazis, KKK, and white supremacists in the United States. As a feminist organization, we are committed to scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. We recognize that feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. We recognize that systems that promote and rely on racism; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred and exclusion are interlinked, and often support one another. We express our solidarity with all groups who stand against white supremacy and racism.

This is a painful, traumatic time for us, for members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by racist violence. This has not been the first or the last of such episodes. Cognizant of the inadequacy of words alone in the expression of solidarity and support, we call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacy wherever it is manifest, whether in the overt and obvious racisms that took place in Charlottesville or in the everyday.

As allies, we ask you to consider these pledges:

I pledge to do the work. I will put my body on the line during protests if able. I will use my voice to speak against white supremacy, and I will act.

I will remind myself that allyship is a process. I will make mistakes but I will apologize, educate myself and not make them again. I will not let my emotions get in the way of my fight against white supremacy. There is too much at stake.

I will check on people who are impacted by this event more than me, and I will not allow myself to be celebrated for doing something that should be common sense.

Women in German Solidarity Statement  

 As an organization that is committed to promoting feminism, inclusivity and anti-racism, The Coalition of Women in German reaches out to all members in solidarity and support following the results of the 2016 presidential election. In lieu of celebrating the election of our first female president, in the 45th presidency, we face a man who won by promoting misogyny, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment, and an exploitative attitude towards the environment.

As feminist educators of German language, culture, and identity, the historical reminders of political intolerance and inhumanity against marginalized groups are all too familiar. We herewith commit to stand in solidarity with all vulnerable and targeted groups in society, especially DACA, LGBTQ, Muslims, Jews, racial minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, and those threatened by environmental destruction. We will actively work to protect and speak out in support of those who feel vulnerable and unsafe in our society.

Now more than ever, we feel the urgency of feminist work–in the classroom, in our scholarship, at our institutions and in our communities. We urge members to commit to activism, to defend human rights and civil liberties, to stand up to bigotry, and to act as allies to marginalized groups. Contact your local and state representatives to encourage them to engage in actions that promote equality, diversity, and respect in our communities. As an organization, we propose fundraising donations for the following organizations:  Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, local Black Lives Matter chapters, Standing Rock Sioux (#NoDAPL), Southern Poverty Law Center, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, National Resources Defense Council, and the Council for American-Islamic Relations.