The Lord Mayor of Hannover is starting next week Belit Onay, the new First Lady of the city Derya. These are beautiful Turkish names, but above all, they are practical. Imagine, it would only be a little more complicated: Would Germany be ready for a mayor named Çagas Imamoglu-Nebiogullari, the Turkish version of Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger? I'm afraid not. Many journalists have a hard time pronouncing Cem Özdemir correctly.
Let's face it: Names play a big role. For example, what do you think when you hear the name "Mandy" - the CEO of a global corporation or a hairdresser from Jena? Or imagine two officials in the Foreign Office, which names do they probably have? Ali and Olga, Ronny and Jacqueline or Anja and Robert? Or: did someone ever call you in a telephone hotline with "Leopold from and to Something, how can I help you" ? No? Just. Noun est omen.
"Kevin is not a name but a diagnosis" - that's still true today
Names usually point to belonging to a group and are associated with prejudices, for example, German-academic, foreign-academic ("Henry James"), East German proletarian, foreign-problematic, etc. A vicious circle that reproduces itself again and again. In 2014, a study showed that students with Turkish names, even with the same starting conditions, have significantly worse career opportunities than their friends with German names. And ten years ago, a study of first-name prejudice among teachers cited the winged response from a questionnaire: "Kevin is not a name but a diagnosis." That sits to this day.
We should not accept that. If you do not want to wait another 70 years until someone with a guest worker name surprisingly leads you to the top, you should start acting now. As? With maximum irritation. Dear Black and Muslim Parents: Give your sons old-white-men-names like Helmut, Gerhard or Ulf and call your daughters best Hannelore, Sieglinde or Waltraud. Or who likes aristocratic sound: Apollonia, Helene and Leonore or Eduard, Ferdinand and Valentin are definitely working well too.
The migration background becomes invisible
Some of my immigrant friends have already started using the name guerilla. They give their offspring unobtrusive, internationally pronounceable names like Lina, Ella and Jacob and the surnames of their original German partners, if available. This makes the migration background invisible - in some cases only on paper, in some even in everyday life. Because the assignment "foreign appearance" works only to a certain extent. For many Germans, the millennia-long history of migration has left its mark - some simply look "southern". Even some AfD politicians could well pass as Ahmet in Turkey. But with "Uwe" or "Stefan" no one wonders where he originally came from. OK then. We can work with that.
Of course, not all Adelheid, Egidius and Renate have to be named. German names alone do not protect against racism - and certainly not against fascists. The National Socialists also did not have an overview of who is Jewish and simply introduced a naming ordinance in 1938: Anyone who was Jewish in their eyes and did not have a clear name had to use the middle name "Israel" or "Sara". It made them easier to recognize, humiliate and later murder.
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So we only make progress with the name guerrilla, when all sides join in the irritation. Dear white fellow human beings, who also want to spoil nationalist nationalism: take part! Just call your kids Osman, Aliyeh, Nguyen or whatever you like. According to Bunte are "flowery, Turkish names" already in vogue. I thank all those who accept the surname of their foreign spouses - you are true integration pioneers.
These include the parents of Fatima Krumm, a colleague of the "Westdeutsche Zeitung". Her parents apparently thought nothing of it when they missed the daughter in 1988 in Eisenhüttenstadt the name of a Bedouin princess from a GDR comic strip. They just loved him. Fatima Krumm describes in an article, how it lives after the turn in the West as potato-Germans with Arabic name. Apparently, it fits into the scheme for no one, not for white Germans, not for the others. In order for that to change and everyone finally relax, we need more Ahmet Lehmanns, Gülten Krügers and Bijan Böhnings.
That may sound odd at first, but the name guerrilla has worked very well before: Jewish names are in vogue. Hannah, Esther, Sarah, Leah, Elias, Noah, Benjamin are universally popular and no longer "Jewish names". What a sympathetic, anti-fascist guerrilla move. Now we should make sure that you can no longer distinguish Osman from Otto.
Annoying Faschos is easier than you think.