Why so Many Black People “Can’t Breathe”

!!!POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING!!!



Funny thing is that when talking about mental health and the people it affects, the first thing I associated it with was white people. Perhaps because of the historic emphasis on the experiences of white middle class children in the research on psychology in children. Through the media I often heard about white people committing some crimes and it being linked to some kind of mental problem that they have. I even remember some of my white friends telling me that their parents had scheduled a meeting with a psychologist because of their mood swings, which seemed to me to not be such a serious matter. Furthermore, in many African and African American households mental health and it’s issues are often disregarded. These factors built up the image I had of psychology, mental health, and the people connected with it.


Last summer, something inside of me and inside of so many black people shifted and was freed. For the first time, the breath that had been held by so many black people around the world, especially in Germany, was released. In the German society, racism as a way of thinking and act has been so normalized that many white Germans are under the impression that they can’t be racist or are less racist because they’re not in America. However, this notion is total nonsense! Because if something is racist, it is racist. It does not matter if in your opinion as a white person it’s “just something small.”


One thing that I have noticed as a black person living in Germany is that so many white people think that they are in a position to determine what’s racist or not. Recently on social media, the application Tiktok I saw a German black girl talking about her experiences of racism in Germany. The comment section was filled with white people assessing if her experiences were truly racist. Excuse me?! Who are white people to regulate whether something is racist or not”?”. I can assure you that black people don’t actually take pleasure in having to talk about racism; we also get uncomfortable at times. It takes courage to stand up and talk about your racist experiences. Important to remember is that racism is not a black problem but a black issue. The idea of one race being superior than another was introduced by white people. The question white people need to ask themselves is, why is it that they needed black people enslaved in the first place. This question goes deeper than just on a superficial level but touches the essence of white Europe and America.


Another big thing I have noticed in living in Germany are the stares. As a black person you practically receive these stares everywhere you go. The stares are very prominent in supermarkets, specifically DM or Rossman. As soon as you step inside, you feel the security guard’s eyes judging your appearance, and then they try to “discreetly” follow you around.


Through what happened to George Floyd (RIP), the black community was finally able to breathe again. One of his last sentences, “I can’t breathe,” speaks volumes to the way that black people have felt for decades and continue to feel under the system that has constantly made it harder for black, indigenous and people of colour to present themselves. His death opened the door for black people to cry out about the injustices that have been inflicted upon us in our everyday lives. It also gave us the opportunity to deal with the many scars that are still present from racist experiences that we are told to keep to ourselves.


So many black people find themselves in a state of self-hatred because of the media‘s portrayal of the eurocentric standards for men and women. So many expectations that need to be met especially in a country like Germany, where so many are in denial of racism. Nevertheless, as Fannie Lou Hamer stated with “, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Black psychology and mental health associated with black people should actually be an extremely important topic discussed in the black community and outside of it. This would not only help black people to emancipate themselves out of “mental slavery,” but it would also help white people to better understand the struggle that black people face mentally. Sad fact is that even white psychologists are often also unaware of the weight that black people face mentally. Franz Fanon worded it beautifully “, We revolt simply because for many reasons we can no longer breathe.“



Contributed by

Keren Aganyi


Keren Aganyi is 17 years old and after living in Texas (USA), she have been living in Germany for 7 years now. Keren's parents are from Nigeria and Cameroon and she currently attends the Nelson Mandela School. This post was originally a task from her English class to write about racism in Germany and very kindly Keren shared it with us.

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