Bim Adewunmi: The everyday microaggressions I experience as a black woman in Berlin

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Reichstag building, Berlin
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RE: Bim Adewunmi: The Guardian, Sunday 8 December 2013 15.00 EST
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Bim Adewunmi in Berlin: theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/08/black-woman-in-berlin”
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OK, here goes the opinion of another English (, Spanish and German) speaking person, also with Yoruba ancestry (I was born black (more like multi-racial) in Cuba), who doesn’t exactly sport an Afro (more like kinky hair) and, mostly out of laziness, regulary shaves his head
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I was last in Berlin (a city I would admit I have always liked even though I don’t like a bit die mittleeuropaische Zeit) a few years ago and I felt a bit like “where is everybody?” ;-) (people have told me I would feel the same if I visit Minnesota U.S.A.)
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To a large extent it may relate to the fact that when I went to Germany it was as a student and I was “young” and impressionable, but I did learn the good in them, to the point of considering myself (by exposure) a bit “German”, even though German people/culture themselves could not even begin to understand why I found this and that “impressive” to begin with, for example German “Sachlichkeit” I love (maybe aspie me is conditioned to thoroughly love it) or maybe I just don’t see race or sex as political issues in general to begin with, but at some point I saw past what you call their “everyday microaggressions”
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I remember right before I left my country that my father told me with a concerned face “not to get upset if someone called me black” and I wondered why would I get upset … “I am black after all” (it felt kind of getting upset for people calling me by my name and people in Cuba call each other “black” in a friendly, neutral way as if they were calling each other “dude” (in the U.S.)), but then I understood what he meant …
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> I thought about something that comedian Dave Chappelle performed back in 2000, in which he says some encounters leave you feeling like you’re watching a scene from a movie.
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Those kinds of “experiences” accompany all kinds of learning processes. Part of it is that German people (for example as they compare to gringos) are very disinhibited when it comes to their opinions even though they may not exactly be solicited.
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You would not hear the end of it if I start telling stories about my experiences regarding “micro”, all-out, tacit, subtle, … aggressions. For example in my early tweinties days after I had gotten there while taking a shower I very anxiously noticed two girls that mindlessly came with their gossip and totally naked into the boys’ showers. I would not consider that exactly an agression, but I nervously and without knowing what to make of it walked out of there and, they noticing I was black, stopped their gossip to mercilessly eye me … then a friend of mine explained to me those girls simply heard the hot water running in the boys showers and didn’t feel like waiting for the cold water to run through the pipes during that super cold winter … and that they would not understand at all if I would try to make anything out of that chance encounter … As Catholic Polish people living in their common borders so well know German people like to free themselves of their clothes whenever they can probably thinking that just air exposure will tan them …
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> The staring never really feels malicious, just curious and rude.
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I can’t get how you can see anything rude in some kid’s reaction. Some old ladies once did a bet my (very dark hair) was a wig and pulled it exactly as you describe but in my case they kept talking to themselves unperturbed about the bet … In some other ocassion I took a long trip to listen to a children choir (I grew up in a family of musicians), but when I arrived they almost refused to sell me a ticket and keep explanining to me how I could take the bus back to Dresden ;-)
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I did learn German pretty fast to the point of writing poetry in that language
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https://hsymbolicus.wordpress.com/category/gedichter/
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before I did in my mother tongue (I found the language (and then languages in general) fascinating) and I have never protected myself from exposure and in addition to that I tend to be a natural Einzelgaenger, so I could understand from where they were coming from and let me just tell you that being loudly yelled out those pesky “BlutSchande” in a bus while I was there with my girlfriend by a group of youth was (the least to say) not nice. Even my “white” Cuban friends (some of them German descendants) were outraged when they experienced those personal (micro?) aggressions to themselves and other people, but I found them mostly stupid when they were (only and verbally) towards me and I could still see when the point was joking around, like that time while in a bar when I did notice two guys who came from behind some girlfriends and I did (physically) fight them. Police took all of us out and even though I was the one whom they had seen giving a blow to one of the guys (who kept joking about “me having two girls and them having none”) after it all was clarified (“Die haben meinen Arsch angefasst” ;-)) and even though they dind’t like exactly like “Scheisswauslaenders” they expelled the two guys from that nightclub
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> In Alexanderplatz, almost a month to the day, another stranger plunged his hand into my afro and laughed. That night as I braided my hair out of reach of strangers’ hands, I double-checked the dates of my flight home. I can’t wait to be anonymous again.
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After those experiences you won’t be ever able to be “anonymous” again even if you “go back”. I did spend in Germany 4+ very intensive years in that explains to a large extent why our experiences towards pretty much the same issues are so different, but I wonder if you had a chance to visit the Deutsche Museum where you could have seen how they will teach you about their own history (specially those dark Nazi past times, which is what we really want to learn about) next time (if you can and want) you should pay yourself a ticket to the U.S. and try to find anything resembling that level of honesty about their own history. I would suggest going to the National Museum of the American Indian in DC (they have many museums in the same area)
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Im Detschem Museum you will see horrible torture, killing machines with extensive technical and historical explanations about those most despictable acts against humanity. When you ask gringos why aren’t their museums like that they ask you (I am not kidding you) “What do you mean?”, then they (those who know “what I mean”) tell you “… but doing this would be like accepting that that was right”, or the greatest of them all so far … “if you go to the museum of the U.S. military you will find out about how U.S. soldiers suffered the consecuences of using chemical weapons against the Vietnamese” … Now you don’t have to know so well about the proof of Goedel’s incompleteness theorems to be able to see the huge bug in that kind of thinking
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Leviathan212: 08 December 2013 8:32pm
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Leviathan212: the monarchy and the church made Britain a more tolerant place
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> … But, I do think both the monarchy and the church have played a role in making Britain a more tolerant place.
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to yourself, best ask people who were under British occupation and colonization about it …
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truth and peace and love,
C

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