Nine-year-old Ishema Kane's handwritten letter to a German newspaper has gone viral amid a countrywide debate about the use of racial epithets in children's books.
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The debate began last month when German Family Minister Kristina Schröder said she cut words like "Negro King" from a Pippi Longstocking story while reading to her daughter, according to the Local. Shortly after, ZEIT, a German newspaper, published a piece that reportedly defending the use of such terms.
According to Jetzt.de, Ishema's mother bought the issue and summarized it for her daughter.
"Ishema reacted very emotionally," Katharina Lobeck Kane told the news source. "She immediately began to cry."
The next morning, Ishema wrote a letter to the paper. Stop! Talking, a blog, provided a translation:
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.
Ishema Kane, 9 1/2 years old
P.S.: You're welcome to send me a response.
[more lightning bolt signs]
The letter has since been shared several thousand times on Facebook, been picked up by several blogs and news outlets across the world and even prompted ZEIT to issue a response.
You go, Ishema!