Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part II of a two part pancocojams series about being Black* in Germany. A few comments about being Black in certain other European nations are also included in these posts.
Part II documents selected comments from three YouTube videos' discussion threads about being a Black adult in Germany or in certain other European nations. These videos are embedded in Part I of this series and their hyperlinks are found below. Some of these quotes are followed by my brief editorial comments and/or informational quotes.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/11/youtube-comments-about-being-black-in.html for Part I of this series. Part I presents selected comments from the same three YouTube videos' (vlogs) discussion threads that are featured in Part II of this series. These comments focus on growing up as a Black person in Germany or in certain other European nations.
Almost all of the quotes in Part II of this pancocojams series are "first person" comments from Black people who were born and raised in Germany, Black people who visited/ are visiting Germany, and Black people or Black family members of those who work[ed] of are or have been stationed in the United States military in Germany.
All of these comments are from 2017. These comments for each videos are numbered for referencing purposes only.
These are only a few of the YouTube videos that are titled "Being Black In Germany". These videos were selected for this post simply because I happened upon them before the other similar videos (vlogs).
I've used a modified spelling for what is commonly called the "n" word in part to better ensure that this post would be acceptable in American public schools where the full spelling of derogatory terms and profanity could automatically disqualify supplemental material. Words that are modified are indicated by an asterisk.
*The definition for "Black" that I'm using includes people who are mixed race (people who have Black/non-Black birth parents).
These compilations don't include comments that only refer to people in Germany or other nations outside of the United States touching Black people's hair. I plan to publish a separate pancocojams post with examples of those comments. When that post is published, I'll add its link here.
The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the producers and publishers of these videos.
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THE YOUTUBE DISCUSSION THREAD FOR VIDEO #1
"Afro.Germany – Being black and German | DW Documentary", published by DW Documentary on Mar 29, 2017
1. Jason Jewett
"This is a very good documentary. I lived in Deutschland for about 13 years consecutive and loved the time I was there and I still miss it. As a Black American I never had a problem living in Deutschland and felt more at home in Deutschland than in the United States. I have met many people in Deutschland like Jana and have made many long lasting friendships. I will recommend my to some of my Black Deutsche friends there to get in contact with the group mentioned in the documentary that brings Black Deutsche people together. I know many Black American Soldiers who stayed in Deutschland and married Deutsche Fraulein's and successfully raised families. I asked a Black WWII & Korean War Veteran why he never returned to the states after he retired from the U.S. Army, at the time, he stated he was not treated as a second class citizen in Deutschland and had no problem to assimilate into the Deutsche culture. The some of the best advice he gave me was to be yourself and learn the language and treat people kindly and you will do just fine living in Deutschland. Miss you Papi Baker... DW keep up the great work, Bis Spater..."
2. Leaty joyce
"I am Cameroonian (central Africa ) and I live in Germany more precisely in the south. I have never experienced direct racism like "go back to Africa " or called the n word but the sterotypes are there. Sometimes non black people ask me questions like"do you wash your hair" ,"do you speak african?","don't you hate being black? ".and non black people think that we came here because of poverty or famine .if an Italian decide to live in Germany it's ok but when it's a black person it's always because of poverty.
German people in my opinion are very friendly.
I see people in the comment section saying that Africans always want to be accepted in countries which are not theirs and that they want pity ."
"Wow! I am blown away by the the fact that they teach small kids to associate black people with "bad". I hope this changes."
This comment refers to the segment of this documentary in which one woman shares her memories of kindergarten "playing these funny games like "Whose Afraid Of The Black Man and Ten Little Negroes it's said in German. And I remember they would run after me and say 'Jana Africana'- Jana is an African. And the problem is that 'African' meant something bad." 2:03-2:27.
"Xs Xs.....SPEAK! My cousins were "assigned" to Poland from Ethiopia and they caught H.E.L.L. if not everyday, then twice a day to make up for Saturday and Sunday---SKIN HEADS would call my cousins "niggers" and at first my cousins thought they were saying "Neges" which means "King" in Amharic (a language spoken in Ethiopia)....it wasn't until my cousins got pelted with rocks and the word "niggers" in the presence of my Dad who was visiting his brother (my Uncle) that my cousins realized how evil the Polish folks were/are."
5. Lechiffresix six
"sweety reality works differently but pay attention, because this biracial guy does not have time for racial purists . I am still very much mixed race. And I know very well that I look white. One of siblings is a biracial that looks biracial. At the end of the day we are both very much what we are mixed race."
Comment #7 of the section "Selected Comments from Video #2" happens to be written by this same commenter.
"Love this documentary. Dad is white from Wurtzburg. Mom is African American so I definitely relate. Plus, I have Black relatives on Mom's side and German relatives on Dad's side. I like rock, R&B , Jazz etc. When you're a mixed person, your taste is mixed too."
7. Yvonne Moore
"Great video. Doris McMillon a former TV Anchor is also a Black-German. She was adopted during the 50s. Her father a military man was transferred and when he returned it was too late. She was adopted by a Black military couple in the US. Was "Brown Babies" The Mischlingskinder Story shown in Germany?"
8. johnathan clark
"I was born in Frankfurt Germany but I'm a black American.
I recommend the book
Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany by Hans J. Massaquoi."
"This was an enjoyable documentary. I was stationed in Germany during the Cold War and the fall of the wall.
I did meet Continental Africans, but very few black Germans. I did know German/American kids of Soldiers, etc. as well."
"Beethoven The Blackamoor"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_van_Beethoven begins with this sentence "Ludwig van Beethoven .... baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist."
Here's a long excerpt from an online page about Beethoven's racial ancestry:
"Beethoven: The Black-a-Moors of Europe – by ReelDeel
"Frederick Hertz, German anthropologist, in “Race and Civilization,” refers twice to Beethoven’s “Negroid traits” and his “dark” skin, and “flat, thick nose.” (pp. 123 and 178).
Frau Fischer, an intimate acquaintance of Beethoven, describes him thus, “Short, stocky, broad shoulders, short neck, round nose, blackish-brown complexion.” (From r. H. Schauffler, The Man Who Freed Music, Vol. I, p. 18, 1929).
In speaking of the immortal Haydn who was Beethoven’s teacher, Andre de Hevesy, says: “Everybody knows the incident at Kismarton or Eisenstadt, the residence of Prince Esterhazy. In the middle of the first allegro of Haydn’s symphony, His Highness asked the name of the author. He was brought forward. “‘What!’exclaimed the prince, ‘the music is by this blackamoor? ‘Well, my fine blackamoor, henceforward, thou art in my service.'”
Carpani, who originally related this says that “Haydn’s complexion gave room for the sarcasm.” And that Haydn had the title of “second professor of music but his new comrades called him The Moor.” (G. Carpani: Le Haydn, etc. Letter 5. Milan, 1812).
Referring to the above incident, Alexander W. Thayer, perhaps the foremost authority on Beethoven, says, “Beethoven had even more of the Moor in his features than his master, ‘Haydn.'” (Beethoven, Vol. I, p. 146). By “Moor” was meant “Negro.” Until recent times the German for “Negro” was “Mohr.”
Paul Bekker, another very noted authority on Beethoven, says that “the most faithful picture of Beethoven’s head” shows him with “wide, thick lipped mouth, short, thick nose, and proudly arched forehead.” (Beethoven, p. 41, 1925. trans. Bozman)...
Beethoven’s family originated in Belgium, which had been ruled for centuries by the Spaniards, who had large numbers of Negro soldiers in their army there. Theophile Gautier speaks of a Belgian type characterized by brown skin and dark hair “a second race which the soldiers of the Spanish Duke of Alva have sown between Brussels and Cambrai.”
In short, the general description of Beethoven, even to his frizzly hair, fits that of many an Aframerican or West Indian mulatto. In the Southern States Beethoven would have been forced to ride in the jim-crow car."...
11. Charles Hazelton III
... "But i will say, "black" folks living in Germany for "400 years" does seem like nonsense to me. We were there much longer than that!"
This comment is in response to the statement in this video that Black people have lived in Germany for 400 years.
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THE YOUTUBE DISCUSSION THREAD FOR VIDEO #2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqVWn1eEQTM "Being Black In Germany", published by Kera Ariyel on Jul 20, 2017
1. Mike German Chocolate
"Kera Ariyel your very beautiful I am black man and born and raised in Germany for decade and i feel USA is more racist than Germany. Germany was great to me I want to move back"
2. Keli K.
"Yes she is but I think they look at her more because she's black.
I've had the same feeling the first time I visited Germany. I felt like a prince. Everybody just looks at you and you feel it's not in a bad way. You are rare, it's normal. Here in Africa, white people get the same treatment. I remember this young little toddler in a supermarket aisle. She was following her dad. When she saw me, she just stopped and started to stare, her lollipop in her hand on the side, like frozen. Her dad had to come back, apologize to me with a great smile and lead her to their cart. And she kept looking. She probably never saw anything like me or rarely did.
I always thought German people were racist but that first experience changed everything. That is why Germany is the only country I'd really wish to visit on a regular basis. I always feel special there."
"same thing happened to me when I traveled in europe. You think germans love black people, wait till you get to ireland. :)"
4. Ngweng Nancy`
"Germans like people from America being black or white but they do not really like people originally from Africa"
5. wardogs161 Wardogs
"Ms. Kera Ariyel,
I suggest you change the name of this segment to being a Black American Women in Germany. I was station in Stuttgart, Germany for 3yrs. The Germans are clueless about the Black America culture. They think Hip-Hop is a representation of Black Americans and Hip Hop is from the South. They don't even call it Hip Hop in Germany, they called it Black Music. I think you need to educate them more about your culture and make them respect you than like you.
"Kera Ariyel It's funny. Some Germans wanted to know if I were from Ethiopia while a few of other Germans asked me if I were from India but I'm mixed American Black and I don't have a board nose. I had been in Germany for 3 weeks. "
7. Lechiffresix six
"born and raised here yes even if you go to Munich , germans STARE they stare and they have their mouth open. i personally think you should "mind" having your hair touched by random people because a- its creepy , it really is . i do not react well to people trying to paw or prod me . b- germs, germs, germs . people's hands are dirty. I would often say , no i don't want any germs on my scalp. and at work . I do not want free massage either or random hugs and as a matter of fact i want people to leave my mortal coil alone lol!
Stuttgart is different. US GI soldiers ( african americans ) were often sent there. because the US was segregated , white soldiers were sent to the north and black people in the south. you know this already, this is the reason why they are mad interested in you. which is good.
unfortunately I am not too familiar with stutti but i could point to afro shops and hairdressers in Munich . because that's my city. there is everything there . you know all your fav conditioner , shampoo , ee-ver y-thang !"
8. Matthias Falkenberg
"Kera Ariyel: My wife and daughter look like you, just white and blond. If we are in North Africa, Turkey, South Italy.... people stare at them and some want to touch their hair. It´s just being "exotic" in a "strange" environment. I´m from Germany and lived in the US and Canada. People where curious because I was from Europe as soon as they knew it. With your look, people assume without talking to you that you are from abroad and tourist/guest in this country. So they are mostly just friendly and curios. Keep up your positive attitude and enjoy Germany."
9. Volox TV
"Lot of bs in the comments. As a German American I have a few things I'd like to comment on:
1) The stares. I think you're partially right in your assumptions, however, Germans stare down people indiscriminately. No matter who you are, you'll always get some of that.
2) That's weird. Hey, I guess compliments are compliments, right? But there are quite a few black people in Germany, just not as common as in the US and usually not of african american decent.
3) Never got why people do that. It's strange.
4) I'm sure you can find those products somewhere, even if they're harder to find.
5) Same idea as 4)
7) I think that has a lot to do with American popculture washing over to Germany, but with many lacking a bit of context, they don't get how impactful that is. Though the German equivalent to the word is bad and is pretty much socially shunned, it doesn't have the history behind it that America had. Germany never had a slave culture. They had a short but terrible attempt at colonialism. But that's pretty much it. So the word never was as derogatory as in the US. Again, not cool, not an excuse, but a bit of context. Similar for stereotypes."
10. THE OVERWATCH PLAYER
"Im german and i wanna answer a few things ;D
So point 1: yeah germans are very interested in new things in general, so yeah i guess they find you interesting
Point 2: there are a few awkward germans who want to be nice but dont know what to say so i guess they want to be nice and make awkward compliments
3. Touching your hair: i noticed that too, i have two black friends, and when i meet with them it happens quite often that people want to touch their hair and i find it kinda rude...
4: quite much people in germany have black hair but not the kind of hair you have so yeah they wont have much things for ya
5: same thing with make up as with hair
6: the old ones are not nice to people who dont look like germans i find it very rude but yeah they are old you cant do something against that. And i dont treat black people different because were all humans and all the same so why should i treat you different
7: me and my white friends say n** to ourselves(WE DONT MEAN IT NEGATIVE!!!!!!!) if we get a little more brown over the summer and the young germans dont say it in a mean way , so yeah were very open and not racist at all
I hope i helped you to understand germans more or at least show you what this looks like from the view of a german :D
now there is a thought"
11. 2TWINS 1CAM
"ACCURATEEEEE when you said that the younger generation is okey but not the older. We could do a whole long film abt the older generation in Sweden 😂😂 Half Ugandans here! 🙋🏽❤️ #yourfavtwins"
This entire comment is written in bold font.
12. Chance Mcgee
"Great video, I can relate to most of it (although I'm not a black female supermodel 😉) I've been in Germany for 6 years now, with a few months back in America. I'm an African American from Texas, which means I tend to immediately think race is the reason for why I'm being mistreated. I've lived in Essen for 3 years, Berlin for a year, Stuttgart for a few months, and now Dresden in far East Germany. This is what I can say about Germany:
1.) Language is by far the number one factor for how Germans will treat you.
2.) The whole Nazi stigma has created a very hostile environment for any kind of racism or discrimination or even love for Germany more generally (which is why they go crazy with the flags during soccer season)
3.) Being American makes a HUGE difference and is always considered more relevant than my race.
4.) Germans are not superficial, they don't apologise unnecessarily, they don't feel the need to be polite to strangers, and they're blunt - especially East Germans and older Germans in general.
5.) The wall between East and West Germany still exists, but culturally.
6.) Most young Germans are anti German culture.
Being in Germany has been a challenge for me but it's mostly because of me. Black Americans, especially Southerners, are conditioned to see everything through a racial lense. Europeans tend to see through a nationality lense. I remember first coming to Germany and talking to a French co-worker who mentioned how the Germans made too many French jokes. I didn't understand at first how the Germans could make fun of him, after all they were all white. It took me a while to understand that Europeans aren't nearly as racial sensitive as they are nationality sensitive. Of course being in West Germany and especially Berlin I felt this privilege you speak of but that all evaporated when I went to Saxony, in fact it was quite the opposite. Buuut! I actually felt like I was talking to real people.
It often felt a bit artificial with some of the interactions I had with people in Berlin, and I could sense a kind of blankness in the discussions. For example I read Goethe and Heine in German, Beethoven and Schubert are my favorite composers and I sing German Lied. Most of the young people had a kind of allergic reaction to these subjects and only really wanted to talk about American pop culture and how bad racism and nazism are. I often felt limited in how I could talk to them because of this Nazi stigma. I love Germany, I love America and I love history and art but it's a much more confined discussion with younger Germans.
After a while I got fed up with the admiration, not in and of itself, I'm not that righteous - but I noticed how much people would change when they found out I was American. My German is pretty good and I don't really have an American accent, but it's clear it's not my native language. In the west they would usually ask me where I'm from after talking for a while and when they found out I was American they would dramatically change, it was almost as if they had to apologise for not being polite enough or showing enough respect. I really really dislike that, so much so that sometimes I would just let them think I was African and talk to them like real people. But it's very different in Saxony, in General they don't talk too much with strangers but most of the ones I have talked to have no interest in my nationality. In fact even after I've told them I was American they just nodded their heads and kept talking to me like normal people. But it's not all nice, sometimes they looked me right in the eyes and said "Amerika ist schei**e" and then said "not you of course." I've had drunk men literally stop in the street to tell me that they're not racist, they just think refugees need to leave. Awkward doesn't begin to explain those talks as I try to convince them to think deeper about this crises (much to my own futility)
Granted I feel much less comfortable in public in Saxony, because I'm really, seriously like the only black person in like a 20 mile radius and I've heard the occasional "Ausländer raus!". I see a lot more bald tattooed men and can't help but get defensive. But the few interactions I have here feel much more meaningful.
I've been called the "N" word a few times, both in Essen and Saxony, not in an innocent way, but this was only after the refugee crises. I think dark skinned men, especially those of middle Eastern nationality, are viewed as unwelcome by some Germans (probably more than most would think). In general the Germans see an African refugee when they first look at me. Which kinda makes sense, I'm a young black male in Germany - and Europeans see through a nationality lense.
In the East and with older people generally, they show respect for me when I speak to them in German and for my understanding of history, my love for German literature and music. Unlike most young Germans, they share that interest and unlike most west Germans, they aren't afraid to show it - and they shouldn't be. I've also talked to them about the spirituals and Black history in America and they're geniuenly interested, unlike many young Germans - or young Americans for that matter.
So in short being a black American male in Germany is very different wherever you are and with whoever you talk to. Most Germans will openly criticise Greeks and Spaniards for being "lazy" but don't seem to see that as being incompatible with not being prejudice. I've certainly experienced less racism in Germany than in America and I honestly love Germany, but I don't think too many Germans love Germany - the ones the do are mostly old."
The asterisks that are included in this comment are how the comment was written in that discussion thread.
13. Topaz Rose
"1.did think about your outfit and make up you was wearing maybe thats why the staring
2. In every country the want to touch your hair.
3.Gosh the are african shops
4. Go to a other shop if you didn't find it so easy.
5. Ok your friends are friendly
6.Tell you friends the N word is a NoGo.
7.All strereotyp came from America
8.If you go to a other city it's very different.
9.there are many black ppl here
Before you say i'm a White mad german I'm a black mad german girl."
In this comment the word "mad" may mean "crazy".
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THE YOUTUBE DISCUSSION THREAD FOR VIDEO #3
"Being Black In Germany", published by Unique Love on Jul 19, 2017
1. Robin Vidén
"Really, Silvana Barilla, Black people have only been in Germany for about 20-30 years? The Afrodeutsche philosopher and economist Anton Wilhelm Amo, working as a teacher at the universities of Halle and Jena, is the first Black person known to have attended a European university back in the early 18th century. In 1729, he wrote (as his dissertation in Law School at the University of Halle) 'De iure Maurorum in Europa' (The Rights of Blacks in Europe). That's more than 20-30 years back in time.
There's been Afro-Germans since at least the 17th century. During the interwar period, Germany had a population of 20,000–25,000 Afro-Germans (out of a total population of about 62 400 000 Germans), which were subject to the Nuremberg Laws.
Sure, the Black population of Germany has always been small - but to say that it's only been around for 20-30 years, just isn't true."
2. It's Chelah and Arno
"hey, We live in Germany, I (Chelah) am from Kenya and can almost relate to your experience but, its not all lost, I have learnt to go out there and make friends (by force 😂) . I also think Germans do not make an effort to make friends but that is just their nature...i say they have a shell which when broken will make great friends. have learnt to be patient. all the best in whatever you decide to do. 😂"
3. Iggy K
"Im so sorry for your experience.I've been living in Germany for three years now ,and this vlog just made me realise that the only German friends I made ,were those that I had met in South Africa ,or friends that I met through those German friends 😧😧,im also shocked that you said that people in Hamburg are not friendly ,I live in the South(Close to Stuttgart) and people here are quite friendly ,I just assumed that because Hamburg is bigger ,that people are more open minded .I must admit however that learning the language helped me to converse and and connect with the locals ,as they are quite stubborn and even if they can speak English they don't even try .You unfortunately always have to be the one to compromise in order to survive 😔😔.I have a law degree from South Africa ,but because i know I will never get a job here with that degree,I ended up doing TestDAF level exam and I am now applying to do a new degree in German(I know ☹️!!Im just gonna suck it up I guess).Okay I was going to ask how you will cope when you return ,but then I got to the end .I think it's very important that you both want personal growth for your career aswell,doesn't make sense to move to Germany if it will end up leading to depression or frustration.But also if you decide to come back to Germany ,research the towns in the South that are close to American army bases ,Atleast you won't be too alone .All the best ,and I truly needed to watch this video today.🤗🤗"
4. Unique Love
"Igonda Negumbo hey thanks for sharing your experience. No, I've never lived in Hamburg, I mentioned the modeling agencies there. I don't know how it truly is in Hamburg. I lived in Cologne. I could have received a second degree( taught in German as well) but since it is truly something I do not want at the moment then I don't feel the need to go for it as it seems to be a waste of my time. But it was a thought."
5. Chinemelum j
"Igonda Negumbo I really agree with that English part. You speak English to them and they reply in German
Well Thank God, I can now speak German and also looking forward to study computer science"
6. Iggy K
"2oceansmeet oops mixed up the towns ,I assumed that bigger towns are better for black people in general,sad that ,that is not the case .Gurl it took me so long to finally decide to do a second degree,some days I'm just like : "But why must I have to compromise when I have a good degree that would get me a job back home ".The only catch is my husband and daughter ,he has a good job here and for her ,it will definitely be better to grow up in Germany because of all the social benefits.I am currently waiting on uni application results ,and depending on that ,we either stay put ,or we relocate back to Namibia (where I'm from )."
7. Iggy K
"Chinemelum j girl !!and sometimes they can clearly understand what you are saying !!"
8. kantsoteka petrus
"Iggy K heei🤗🤗 Namibia here✌"
9. Ayanda Buchegger
"Iggy K I'm a South African also based in the south of Germany (Constance) I have been living here for 5years and let me just say it has been ROUGH! Mental illness can become real very fast!! It's still a struggle but after all these years it is slowly starting to feel like home."
10. Unique Love
"Ayanda Buchegger Agreed, and although I thought I had more patience, I'm not waiting to see just how far a mental illness can creep it's way into me. Cause it's mad real."
11. Iggy K
"Ayanda Buchegger 100% agree with everything you say ,it's not a smooth transition and for me whose been here for three years it still doesn't feel like home to me either .Especially trying to raise a child in a place that is so foreign to how we do things ,it takes a lot of getting used to and there are many ups and downs.Im just greatful that I have support from friends that I met while studying in South Africa and my husbands family aswell.I was actually in Konstanz last weekend for a girls weekend ,your town is beautiful xx"
12. Hollie James
"Iggy K 😊😊😊 EXACTLY!!! The experience is what you make of it. I made plenty of friends.... German, African, Turkish, Italian, American etc... though I've moved back to the U.S. we still keep in touch to date! Speak positivity into your current situation. When I first moved to Germany I hated it, I wanted to come back home. But once I STOPPED sitting around complaining or being depressed about it, and got out and got moving, starting being social, diving into the culture and appreciating the beauty, peace, and calm if that country.... I NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 There's so much to see and do. So much to become a part of, so many places to make friends. You're younger than me, so I'm not sure of the settings or types of surroundings your desire. But, girl... it's all in your mindset! "
Get online and set your pace! Pave your path and watch Germany open up to you!"
This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series.
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