German Museum Faces Right Wing Backlash After Implementing A ‘Safer Space’ For BIPOC Visitors

The Zeche Zollern Museum in Dortmund, Germany, has dedicated a 4-hour time slot every Saturday for BIPOC visitors to view the museum’s exhibit about German colonialism. Unfortunately, hostile responses from white right-wing visitors have forced the Zeche Zollern to require protective law enforcement presence on the premises. 

The exclusive time slot is only in place for Zollern’s “This is Colonial” exhibit. According to the director of local industrial museums, Kirsten Baumann, the “safer space” is for Black, Indigenous and other people of color to visit and experience the exhibition peacefully without being met with “further (even unconscious) discrimination [and to be] to be considerate of people who are more affected by the topic of colonialism than others.”

As reported by The Washington Post, the new time slot has caused a backlash. Last month, a TikTok video went viral showing two white men angrily confronting the museum staff, accusing the time slot of being discriminatory against white people. A prominent German parliament member, formally a part of the Alternative for Germany party, shared the clip on her social media. Due to the video going viral, museum staff members have been met with threats of violence and vitriol online.

Barbara Rüschoff-Parzinger, the head of the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe’s cultural department, later clarified that as per the Zollern’s website guidelines, that white visitors are not “banned” from the museum during the 10 AM to 2 PM time slot. Reportedly, admission into the exhibit during that time slot is not monitored and is based on “trust” and a request for white patrons to respect the allotted time slot’s intended purpose. 

Rüschoff-Parzinger disclosed in a telephone interview on September 6 that museum employees feel “threatened” and the employees featured in the TikTok video were being recorded without their knowledge and are taking legal action for “defamation.”

Rüschoff-Parzinger explained that police officers were dispatched to be present at the museum for the remainder of this month during the ongoing colonialism exhibit to prevent “politically motivated crimes.”

The “This is Colonial” exhibition features interactive performances, workshops, and display pieces discussing the history of German colonialism locally and abroad, and the “safer space” time slot is described as “an opportunity for BIPOC to be able to withdraw and exchange openly without being observed, judged or criticized by white people. For BIPOC, such safe spaces are rarely available in everyday life or in museum spaces.”

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