A life as black in Germany – still a struggle, chland, dw

October 5, 2017 — by MCutts0

A section from the DW documentary "Afro.Deutschland" moved the users particularly. He was clicked and commented a thousand times: Theodor Wonja Michaels story about "Völkerschauen".

"I’m African, but I didn’t know that Cameroon and Togo were German colonies", a user writes in response to an online video clip about the life of Theodor Wonja Michael, one of the oldest German contemporary witnesses.

The clip shows an excerpt from DW production "Afro.Deutschland", who deal with the different experiences of people living in Germany Black concerned and questioned the historical amnesia to the German colonial past.

In the video clip, Michael, born in Berlin in 1925, tells of his childhood as a black man in Germany and of the fact that he was often forced as a young boy into so-called "Völkerschauen" occur. He survived the Nazi era and later became an author and actor.

Michael is proud today of the great achievements of the black community in Germany. He complains, however, that his being German is still questioned by people who see Germany as a nation of blond and blue-eyed white people. The 92-year-old is tired of this view and hopes for further positive changes in Germany.

Great response in social media

Apparently his story hit a nerve worldwide: the video was clicked on the DW social media platforms more than 2.3 million times and commented on more than 1,100 times. The clip sparked countless discussions on Facebook and Co. and reflected the struggle that black communities around the world are waging on various fronts.

Users, most of whom described themselves as African Americans, reacted particularly positively to a statement from the video: "I am black and would not change it for anything in the world."

Racism starts with characteristics that the person concerned cannot influence and classifies them as inferior. If the alleged inferiority reason relates to biological differences, the experience of being different can be particularly humiliating and disempowering.

From trauma to pride

As a child, Theodor Wonja Michael was in "Völkerschauen" in which the visitors touched his hair and rubbed his arm to see if the color didn’t go off. He was exhibited like an animal – and also humiliated: the visitors who inspected him found his humanity unnatural. The memory of it still hurts him today. All the more, therefore, do many people appreciate that he is proud of the color of his skin, which has given him so many traumas.

The legacy of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and pride in being black lives on today "Black identity" more: This includes Beyonce’s homage to the Black Panther movement at the Super Bowl as well as the virtual applause for Michael’s words.

The "Black Pride"-Movement in America was a reaction to the supremacy of whites and their culture. It led black Americans to free themselves from the alleged inferiority historically imposed on them and to be proud of their African heritage. Clothing from Kente, an exquisite fabric reserved for kings in Ghana and Ivory Coast, and natural hairstyles became the symbol of the time "Black Pride"-Move.

The parents of Theodor Wonja Michael

The pride in being black, however, can unintentionally promote an idea of ​​black authenticity that not everyone shares: Because if the die "Black Pride"-Move her image propagated by a black man, other black people don’t see it that way.

With black skin in Germany

The color of the skin doesn’t make a person – but it influences the way a person experiences the world. "My mother was French, my father was American [. ] Since I was fair-skinned, I fought black people because I wasn’t dark enough. And against whites because I wasn’t bright enough. I fought against Spaniards and Puerto Ricans who thought I was a ‘wannabe’, a ‘fake’", a user writes.

Such statements make it clear how different experiences can be and show how differentiated racism can be. In the discussion forum, for example, an American user could not believe that German people with black skin were treated badly, another explained how their nationality can change the way they look at a race.


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