racist german children story

Looks like adults aren’t the only ones making their voices heard these days.

We all had a favorite book growing up and for many of us these books were filled with tales of wonder and adventure. However, the experience has been a bit different for nine-year-old Ishema Kane from Germany. It all began after German Family Minister Kristina Schröder said she cut words like “Negro King” from a Pippi Longstocking story while reading to her daughter. This move prompted ZEIT, a German newspaper, to publish a piece that reportedly defending the use of such terms.

racist children's stories

Well, little Ishema was devastated that such language would be acceptable for anyone, let alone children. According to her mother Ishema “reacted very emotionally,” and “immediately began to cry.” But simply shedding tears wasn’t enough for the nine-year-old, she wanted to make sure editors at the paper knew how disappointed she was in their decision to defend the offensive language, so she put pen to paper and sent them this letter translated into English by a blog called Stop! Talking:

Dear Editors,

You’re in luck that I’m at least writing this letter to you in my best handwriting because I am very angry at you. Why should it not be prohibited to write ‘Neger’ in children’s books? One has to be able to put oneself in somebody else’s shoes. Because my father is Senegalese, and he is a very dark shade of brown; I am café-au-lait brown. Just imagine if you were Afro-German and lived in Germany. You’re a newspaper reader and unsuspectingly buy the ZEIT of January 17th 2013. Suddenly, you note the article ‘The Little Witch Hunt.’ This is when you read that the word ‘Neger’ is supposed to be deleted from children’s books, and that this would allegedly spoil the children’s books. I find it totally shit that this word would remain in children’s books if it were up to you. You cannot imagine how I feel when I have to read or hear that word. It is simply very, very terrible. My father is not a ‘Neger’ [lightning bolt sign] nor am I. This is also true for all other Africans. Right. That was my opinion. This word should be deleted from children’s books.

Yours,

Ishema Kane, 9 1/2 years old

P.S.: You’re welcome to send me a response.

Word of Ishema’s letter spread around the internet, and the world, like wild-fire and even prompted ZEIT to issue a response! This should be a lesson to everyone that you are never too young or too old to speak out against injustice. If this little girl could voice her opinion, not just to a local paper, but to a nation … what’s your excuse?

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  • Was the word Negro or is that a kind translation of nigger? The reason I ask is considering the time that Pippi Longstocking was written Negro is historically accurate and therefore, not objectionable. If it was a kind translation, then I get the letter.

    • Stephanie

      The English translation of the word Neger is nigger or coon. The German word for Negro is Schwarze, which is also the German word for black.