Harmless Like You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2019-05-04 01:52Z by Steven

Harmless Like You: A Novel

W. W. Norton
February 2017
320 pages
5.9 × 8.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-324-00074-7

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old.

The novel opens when Yuki is sixteen and her father is posted back to Japan. Though she and her family have been living as outsiders in New York City, Yuki opts to stay, intoxicated by her friendship with the beautiful aspiring model Odile, the energy of the city, and her desire to become an artist. But when she becomes involved with an older man and the relationship turns destructive, Yuki’s life is unmoored. Harmless Like You is a suspenseful novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships, and familial bonds that asks—and ultimately answers—how does a mother desert her son?

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Berlin marks Black History Month but the struggle goes on

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Social Science, Women on 2012-02-29 03:19Z by Steven

Berlin marks Black History Month but the struggle goes on

Deutsche Welle
2012-02-16

Anne Thomas

Berlin has become more diverse and the situation for Afro-Germans has improved, but it’s still hard to get a job or an apartment. Black History Month highlights the challenges faced by over 2 percent of the population.

A black Portuguese friend of mine once dated an African-American guy she had met in her favorite bar. “We were so surprised to see another black person, we instantly gravitated towards each other,” they told me, laughing. They were able to joke, but for many Afro-Germans, it has been a lonely struggle.

Although I live in Neukölln—reportedly Berlin’s most diverse district with inhabitants from 160 countries—I am always struck by how white the city seems compared to other European capitals. I have never seen a black doctor, civil servant, yoga teacher, ticket collector, bus driver, pharmacist, plumber, policewoman, librarian… Most of the black people I know are from the US, UK, Nigeria, Senegal, Brazil or Portugal.
 
As a white foreigner in Germany, I sometimes find it difficult here and am very aware of my differences. However, I cannot really imagine what it must be like to constantly be considered exotic, just because of a different skin color.

Remembering May Ayim

So this year’s Black History Month in Berlin has been especially fascinating. The Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD) introduced this annual event in 1990, the year of German reunification, which Afro-German poet and activist May Ayim described as a celebration “without immigrants, refugees, Jewish or black people.”

To date, many in Germany maintain the country has a very insignificant colonial history and racism is not an issue. Ayim (1960 – 1996), whose father was Ghanaian and mother German, suffered from this ignorance and co-founded the ISD to change attitudes and work towards a non-racist Germany…

…Introducing Afro-Germans

Micosse-Aikins also praised the fact that Berlin had changed for the better as a result of the work of May Ayim and her fellow panelist, the historian and activist Katharina Oguntoye, who was born in Zwickau to a white German mother and a black Nigerian father.

When Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde arrived in Berlin in 1984, she looked for other black women and found mainly isolated individuals, including Ayim and Oguntuye. She encouraged them to write a book.

“She said we should introduce ourselves to each other and to the world,” recalled Oguntoye, adding that this was an extremely daunting task for two women in their early 20s, but one they felt equipped to perform.

The result was “Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out,” a groundbreaking combination of historical analysis, interviews, personal testimonies and poetry that explored racism in Germany and was published in German in 1986…

Read the entire article here.

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Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992

Posted in Biography, Europe, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Videos, Women on 2012-02-28 22:16Z by Steven

Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992

Third World Newsreel
2012
84 minutes
Germany
English/German with English Subtitles

Dagmar Schultz

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Audre Lorde’s passing, the acclaimed Black lesbian feminist poet and activist. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Lorde’s incisive writings and speeches defined and inspired the women of color, feminist and LGBT social justice movements in the United States.

Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992  explores a little-known chapter of the writer’s prolific life, a period in which she helped ignite the Afro-German Movement and made lasting contributions to the German political and cultural scene before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification.

Lorde mentored and encouraged Black German women to write and publish as a way of asserting their identities, rights and culture in a society that isolated and silenced them, while challenging white German women to acknowledge their white  privilege. As Lorde wrote in her book Our Dead Behind Us: Poems, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 contains previously unreleased audiovisual material from director Dagmar Schultz’s personal archive, showing Lorde on and off stage. With testimony from Lorde’s colleagues, students and friends, this film documents Lorde’s lasting legacy in Germany.

See the Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 Study Guide here.

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Half-Blood Blues

Posted in Books, Europe, Media Archive, Novels on 2011-11-11 05:53Z by Steven

Half-Blood Blues

Picador (an imprint of Macmillan)
2011-09-03
304 pages
8.5 X 5.5 X 0.9 in
Cloth ISBN:9780887627415
Paperback ISBN: ISBN: 9781250012708

Esi Edugyan

  • Winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Paris, 1940.  A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again.  He is twenty years old.  He is a German citizen.  And he is black.

Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate.  From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of  Paris—where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance—Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of resistance.

Half-Blood Blues, the second novel by an exceptionally talented young writer, is an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

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