Bigotry at the Playground


(picture not my own)

I posted this the other day in German.  It is something that my dear friend experienced.

  It is too important not to share in English.





Gervinuspark, Essen-Frohnhausen:

For some time a group of Roma and Sinti have discovered for themselves, the benches and meadow of this park. As soon as the weather is good, they flock in droves of family associations and settle there. They stand and sit around gesticulating loudly, listen to music, eat and drink and leave a huge pile of garbage every day. Once again the City ordinance hotline was called!  They are no longer allowed to barbeque there, but this does not diminish their joy, nor does it detract from their meetings.

Older people who sit year in and year out on the benches in the summer, feel robbed of “their place” and disturbed by the deprived families aggressive tone, which is set also by the “gypsy kids” on the playground.  A discussion with their parents is difficult, not only because of communication difficulties, but also because a very high potential for violence prevails.

Yes, there is a problem.

On the playground now are the “educated” and “German white trash, -the uneducated, uncouth and poor which in recent years have led a kind of guerrilla war about whether smoking is allowed in the sandbox, slush ice-cream is harmful  and how to communicate with each other and with the children, in order to stand in a united front against the “pack”.

This is also a problem.

When I went again today with my daughter after a long time to the playground, I sat a little off with my study materials, I was watching the kids play in between, it happened: 
The “Gypsy children” came. And as always, they had no toys. As always, bursting with curiosity – which is understandable when you get yelled at and beaten half the day – they would also love to have a bucket and a shovel. And it must be bad for them, if you receive and are met with – no matter where you go – disgust and negative expectations. But they sat and stood only next to the other children. They just wanted to play.

All parents froze. They were waiting for something to happen. Some parents collected their children straight away from the sandbox, the rest were eyeing the action with eagle eyes to “protect” their own offspring in the case of the case.  And of course, something happened – all children quarrel – one was pelted with sand. It was something “typical  for children.  The dispute started out of a nullity, which should be treated as a typical, and the “gypsy child” only reacted.

The mother ran to the scene of the incident and shouted:  Enough is enough! Strike back Justin! We can no longer put up with this here! This is our playground! I want you to defend yourself reasonably!  If you cannot behave yourself, go to where ever you came from, you gypsy brat, you have no business being here anyway!  Another incident and I will get rough!  Lowlife shit! “

I could not stand it. 

I went to her and asked:  What is all this, have you lost your senses?

The Mother replied:  Stay out of it. Someone here must put a stop to the gypsies.

Me:   They are children! 

The Mother:  I do not give a damn. I do not want my son playing with them!  

Me:  And I do not want my daughter to experience something so anti-social here.

She:   Are you saying that I am anti-social?

Me:   Yeah!

She:   I think something is about to happen here.

Me:    Yes. I think so.

She:   You just do not know yet what’s going on here.

Me:    Yes, I do.

She:   No, you don’t.  The gypsy children beat my son the other day.

Me:    Which kids?

She:   The fucking gypsy children.

Me:    You mean these kids here?

She:   It does not matter!  Any of the fucking gypsy children.

Me:    I want YOU out of here immediately!

She:   No. We will not leave our playground. They leave!

Me:    No. You!

The mother calls over to all the other parents:  “So this is what it has come to already. This lunatic here, is on the side of the Gypsies.  Justin and I do not go.  Now finally speak up! You guys all share my opinion.”

The parents are there.  Rank and file, the doctors, the construction workers, the cashiers stand next to the social workers, the Hartz VI receiver alongside the journalists, their former “enemies”.  No one says anything.

I say:  I want you to comment on it now.

A mother says:  Yes … but it can’t continue like this here.

A murmur of agreement from all the others.

One of the “gypsy girls” comes to me and says:  My name is Chanel. We are here for the first time today.  My brother has done nothing. This boy threw sand in his eyes.  I’m afraid!

I’m scared, too.  And I feel despair, and a boundless rage.  I have the feeling that something terrible is happening.  In the middle of a playground!  In the midst of children!  A situation which we are not able to cope with is developing!  Something that the parents next to me, and those over there on the benches – who are fortunately too engaged with their food and their music, who have heard and noticed none of all this –  is coming to a head!  At least it did not happen today.


I say:  What just happened here, is racism. Something that can lead to something gruesome. Something we all should know about.  I am ashamed. I’m ashamed of us all. And I’ll stay here with these kids.

The mother goes to the other parents. Wild discussions.  Then I hear no more. In my head, it is roaring. As Chanel and her brother start to play – with the sand toys my daughter shares with them – I need to gather up all my strength not to cry. For two hours. When everyone else is gone, they are still playing. And I’m sitting next to them.

I do not know how to proceed…


2 thoughts on “Bigotry at the Playground

  1. How terrible and how difficult to know exactly what to do! Good for you for standing up for the children but I can understand that you don’t know what will happen next or what to do next.


    • Thank you Janet for your kind words, this is an account of what my friend experienced at our local park. I merely translated it from German and altered the style and lay-out after her consent.
      Cultural differences are an increasing issue here in Germany, and civil courage is diminishing everywhere. Standing up for the less fortunate is becoming rare and when you do, it leaves you feeling defeated, cause your action is like a drop on a hot stone…yet we can not and should not turn away!!!

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