”Our Lives are Intersectional, Our Struggles are connected.
If any of us is not free, we are all not free! ” – maisha auma
On a sunny afternoon on the 22nd of July, protesters and activists hit the street of Berlin to stand in solidarity with African American founders of Black Live Matters movement, Afro German, Black LGBTQIA community, and refugees. Aside from its inclusiveness and focus on intersectionality, Black Live matter Berlin also protest against german institutional racism, racial profiling, police brutality and demand justice for people of African descent who died in police custody, proving that racism and institutional injustice is not just an American issue.
The German capital Berlin, is known for its impressive night life, sexual liberation, open-border-asylum policies and its influx of creative expats from western countries. However it isn’t well known for its ethnic diversity – let alone black population. In Berlin, immigration is still a relatively new thing, with Turkish and Vietnamese citizens being the first wave of non-EU migrants fleeing from war and political instability in the 60s and 70s, followed by Sub-Saharan Africans in the 80s.
Interactions between German and African began from as early the 17th century, and is a painful reminder of slavery, colonisation and racial segregation. By the end of 2nd world war and cold war, there were soldiers of Afro-Carribean, Afro and African American descent from the US, UK and France who were stationed in Germany. Many had married and fathered ethnic German women. At the time where interracial marriages were institutionally discouraged by German government, many mixed race Afro German children where forcefully removed from their home, sterilised and became ward of the state.
Today, Afro Germans consists of approximately 2% of Berlin population ( 70000), which makes it one of the smallest group of non white ethnic minorities in Berlin. Despite its small number, Afro German and Africans in general experience racial discrimination, micro-aggression in everyday life, and are more likely to be racially profiled by Police, receive harsher prison sentences, and are more likely to died in police custody than white germans and other ethnic minorities.
The most known case that sparked national and international outrage includes the death of Oury Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean asylum seeker. He was found lying on a burning mattress,with hands tied up to the bed frame, body covered in bruises and severely burned in Dessau police cell back in 2005. The officers involved were charged with causing bodily harm with fatal consequences and with involuntary manslaughter but were acquitted due to lack of evidence. An institutional cover up is suspected as all the evidences had disappeared, police documents were destroyed and traces were wiped off during the investigation.
For Germany to become a truly equal, multi-cultural ,tolerant society as it claims be, it must no longer ignore and must address its racial disparity , through institutional reform and affirmative action.
”They tried to bury us, but they did not know we were Seeds”.
”It is important to me to state, as an activist, a black feminist who has been active in Generation Adefra, Black Women in Germany for over 20 years now, that to build community, we must be able to give us much as we take! We have to learn to hold a balance between giving and taking. We are all bruised. We are all fragile, but we are also all resilient at the same time, fierce! We cannot come into Movements with the hopes that they will fix us. We come together to create Spaces, where we are not alone, in figuring out how to fix ourselves”
~ Maisha Auma, Black lives matter Berlin activist.
“borderless and brazen: a poem against the German “u-not y.”
i will be African
even if you want me to be german
and i will be german
even if my blackness does not suit you
i will go
yet another step further
to the farthest edge
where my sisters – where my brothers stand
o u r
i will go
yet another step further and another step and
when i want
borderless and brazen
~Poem by May Ayim
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