Race is a very sensitive topic, one that makes people cringe and very uncomfortable. But unfortunately we have to talk about it. Many at times l have sought to share my feelings on this topic, but the fear of the controversial responses and people l might offend has always stopped me.
But today, that lady who stood up as l sat adjacent to her on a spacious four seater in the train and instead chose to go and squeeze herself with the bicycles for the remainder of the forty minute journey, touched a chord inside of me. And as l sat there contemplating whether to stand up and go look for another seat so as to allow her the comfort l had robbed her of, l knew this post was way overdue. All l wanted in that moment was to go up to her and ask her why she had stood up? Did l scare her? Was l perhaps carrying a foul body odor from my long day? Did she dislike foreigners? Or maybe she just preferred to sit alone.
Flashback to the time when l was preparing to come to Germany, and everybody was worried about how l would choose Germany, the famous Nazi land in history as my destination of choice. Quite frankly it never bothered me then, and l do believe Germans are not as a bad. People just judge them from their serious faces and way of doing things. Once you get to know them, they are warm individuals just like all of us.
But then, just like in any country there will always be prejudice or discrimination directed at someone because of their different race. Down here it exists but unlike in America where police footage from body cameras or dashboard cameras constantly shocks us, it is subtle. Most of my German friends express shock when l tell them this but believe it or not, racism is everywhere. You have to be discriminated against first to feel it.
Try and be in the bus or train, and have the police head to you first irregardless of where you are sitting to ask for your documents.
Try and be the passenger when that ticket controller comes around to check your ticket with an expectation already written all over his or her face.
Try and sit down next to people in th train and have them stand up, make nasty grunts or purposely cross their legs and turn their backs torwards you.
Try and walk in into a store and have the security person tag along you immediately.
Try and check in at some fancy place, and be questioned of your identity and if indeed you are the person on the reservation.
Try and have the store alarm beep as you walk out and see how vigorously you will be dealt with.
Many at times we are subconsciously acting as racists and we dont even realize it. I do it too at times. As for me, l have found a way to make myself small and not attract too much attention. As soon as l walk out of my door, l am like an actor in a movie. Fitting in, being cautious and going out of my way to belong, so as to avoid these terrible moments. When out there, do like the Romans when in Rome is my motto.
Sometimes l wonder if the verbal outspoken rasicm is preferable in comparison to this silent subtle one. But thats a question for another day, for now,
This is being Black in Germany.