From ADEFRA to Black Lives Matter: Black Women’s Activism in Germany

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Social Justice, Women on 2017-07-16 00:18Z by Steven

From ADEFRA to Black Lives Matter: Black Women’s Activism in Germany

Black Perspectives
2017-07-05

Tiffany Florvil, Assistant Professor of History
University of New Mexico


Black Lives Matter activists in Berlin in July 2016 (WOLFRAM KASTL/AFP/Getty)

On Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 4:30pm, a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest took place in Berlin, Germany with thousands of people expressing solidarity and promoting awareness of racial injustice. The event built from the momentum of two BLM marches that occurred last summer. Initially meeting at the 2016 BLM marches, Mic Oala, Shaheen Wacker, Nela Biedermann, Josephine Apraku, Jacqueline Mayen, and Kristin Lein remained in contact and eventually established a Berlin-based multicultural German feminist collective. With their new group and local connections, they planned the 2017 demonstration as a part of a month-long series of events, which included film screenings, poetry readings, workshops, exhibitions, and more.

Taken together, these events highlight the diversity of Black protest and activism within the German context. Using these events, especially the protest, the organizers publicly drew attention to instances of racism and oppression and attempted to gain visibility for Black people in Germany and beyond. The different events as well as the BLM Movement in Berlin represent the conscious efforts of these feminist and anti-racist activists to not only engage in practices of resistance, but to create and own spaces of resistance, solidarity, and recognition within a majority white society. In this way, they demand their “right to the city” and continue to make Germany a critical site for blackness and the African diaspora.


Ika Hügel-Marshall and Audre Lorde (Feminist Wire, Image Credit: Dagmar Schultz)

[Audre] Lorde was a visiting professor teaching courses at the Free University of Berlin (FUB) in 1984, which a few of these women attended. Black German women also cultivated connections to her outside of the classroom. Lorde emboldened Black German women to write their stories and produce and disseminate knowledge about their experiences as women of the African diaspora in Germany. Inspired, Oguntoye, Ayim, and Dagmar Schultz, a white German feminist, produced the volume Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte in 1986 (later published in 1992 as Showing our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out). The volume helped Black German women and men connect and socialize with one another and forge a dynamic diasporic community after years of isolation in predominantly white settings…

Read the entire article here.

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Afro-Latin America and the Black Pacific: An Interview with Sherwin K. Bryant

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery on 2017-04-25 02:39Z by Steven

Afro-Latin America and the Black Pacific: An Interview with Sherwin K. Bryant

Black Perspectives
2017-04-22

Yesenia Barragan, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

This month I interviewed Sherwin K. Bryant about his work on the Black Pacific and Afro-Andes. Bryant is Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University and serves as the Director of the Center for African American History. As an historian of colonial Afro-Latin America and the Atlantic/Pacific Worlds, Bryant works at the intersections of cultural, legal, social history and political economy, with an emphasis upon Black life in the Kingdoms of New Granada and Quito (what is now modern Colombia and Ecuador). Dr. Bryant’s book, Rivers of Gold, Lives of Bondage: Governing through Slavery in Colonial Quito offers the first serious treatment in English of slavery and slave life in colonial Quito and challenges the narrower conceptualization of slavery as primarily an economic demand. He is currently working on two new book-length projects. The first charts the history of Black subjectivities along Colombia and Ecuador’s Pacific littoral while the second develops a history of slave life within the contraband slave routes that ran through Panama and New Granada before the era of free trade. Follow him on Twitter @sherwinkbryant.

Yesenia Barragan: As you explain in Rivers of Gold, the Kingdom of Quito had a relatively small enslaved population in comparison to the more familiar cases in the Atlantic world and has thus been overlooked in the historiography of slavery in the Americas. What insights can we gain by examining the history of colonial Afro-Quito?

Sherwin K. Bryant: Until the last two decades, the African diaspora to Spanish America received scant attention compared to the US, Brazil, and the British and French Caribbean. This was due in part to a scholarly reading of slavery through labor, the plantation complex, and an emphasis on numbers. These approaches caused previous scholars to underestimate the socio-political impact of slavery and Black life throughout much of Latin America.

Another enduring challenge to the study of Blackness in Latin America is found in the national myths and master narratives that diminish the importance of Black life, and those that deny and devalue the scale of Black populations and the extent of their on-going persecution. Rather than account for the full scope of Black life, these nations have preferred narratives of mestizaje, or race mixture, marginalizing Blacks and their contributions to the nation. To some degree and for some time now, scholars colluded in this elision, privileging studies of slavery as an institution, or race mixture and social climbing. Consequently, the writing of Spanish America’s Black history was fraught, episodic, and belated relative to the flourishing studies on Indigenous populations and women since the advent of social history in the 1970s and 80s. Finally, a US-centric approach to African American history and the prominence of the Atlantic basin in diaspora studies contributed to these omissions…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Erasure of People of African Descent in Nazi Germany

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-04-19 21:15Z by Steven

The Erasure of People of African Descent in Nazi Germany

Black Perspectives
2017-04-19

Jaimee A. Swift
Howard University, Washington, D.C.


Afro-German during the Third Reich. Photo: Propaganda-Pravada.

Recently, Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer made some peculiar and offensive comments comparing Syrian leader President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attacks to those of Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. In attempts to justify Trump’s random missile strikes against Assad, Spicer asserted that what Assad did was completely inhumane—so inhumane that he claimed not even Hitler used chemical weapons against his own people, when in fact he did. Spicer would later on apologize for his Hitler comparison.

His comments were met with much backlash, and many have claimed they were disrespectful to the Jewish community and therefore diminished the horrible plight of the millions of innocent Jewish lives lost at the hands of Hitler and the Nazi regime. What is critical in understanding Spicer’s offensive statement is assessing not only his erasure of the violence enacted on the Jewish community during the Holocaust, but also the effacing of the experiences of Afro-Germans, African-Americans, and persons of African descent during the Nazi era. Both national and global discourses have excluded the narratives about and perspectives on Afro-Germans in German society. While the German constitution forbids racism, prejudice, and other forms of discrimination, there lacks a substantive and stable legal reform on combatting racism, as a “generally accepted definition of racism does not exist in Germany.” The intentional void of state-sanctioned discourses on race in Germany because of the legacy of the Nazi era ignores the historical remnants and current manifestations of systemic racism against Afro-Germans, which is embedded in every facet of German society…

…In their article “Making the Black Experience Heard in Germany,” authors Jamie Schearer and Hadija Haruna detailed how during World War II, thousands of African-American GIs occupied Germany and had relationships with German women, thus producing bi-racial or multiracial children. German professor Maria Hoehn also discussed the percentage of Black children birthed to African-American GIs and white women in Germany and how animosity arose from many Euro-Germans surrounding the presence of Black children or Besatzungskinder (occupation children) or “Rhineland bastards” in the country. Hoehn explained:

“They would always identify them as ‘Black Occupation children.’ Or as mischling kinder, or mixed-race children. In the immediate postwar period, there were over 90,000 babies born of American soldiers, and about three-and-a-half thousands of them were African American. What is interesting is that almost the whole focus of the debate on occupation children was on those black children rather than the larger group of children.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Zadie Smith and Multiculturalism after Brexit

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2017-04-11 20:08Z by Steven

Zadie Smith and Multiculturalism after Brexit

Black Perspectives
2017-04-11

Merve Fejzula
University of Cambridge

Perhaps more than other forms of criticism, outsiders often imagine literary criticism to be free from the vagaries of the present moment. American President Donald Trump and British politician Nigel Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, may intrude on other aspects of life, but surely we can still enjoy the beauty of John Keats’sOde on a Grecian Urn” in relative peace. Yet aesthetic appreciation is as subject to Hamlet’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as anything else, and nowhere does this pliable relationship to literature assert itself more than in the critical reception of authors of color . An illustrative example of this dynamic might be charted through the work of Zadie Smith, presented by the literary world as the “mixed-raced” poster child for the cosmopolitan axis of LondonBrooklyn

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Race and Civil Rights Dramas in Hollywood

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-24 19:53Z by Steven

Race and Civil Rights Dramas in Hollywood

Black Perspectives
2017-03-24

Justin Gomer, Assistant Professor of American Studies
California State University, Long Beach


Katharine Houghton and Sidney Poitier in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Photo: Columbia Pictures.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, starring the iconic Sidney Poitier. During the 1960s, when the film was released, Hollywood produced few movies about the political activism that comprised the civil rights movement. Instead, the movie industry turned to Sidney Poitier to offer representations of black middle-class respectability and colorblind racial discourse in hopes of changing the hearts and minds of whites across the country. Yet, Hollywood’s most celebrated civil rights drama debuted three years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and two years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, amid a very different political climate. The film’s premiere in December 1967 was fourteen months after Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and nearly eighteen months after Stokely Carmichael, director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, began making calls for “Black Power.” James Baldwin, writing in July 1968, noted the contradiction between Hollywood’s images of black respectability vis-à-vis Poitier’s roles and the desires of the burgeoning Black Power movement, “white Americans appear to be under the compulsion to dream, whereas black Americans are under the compulsion to awaken.”

The 2016 Hollywood year wrapped up a few Sundays ago with the Academy Awards. While the record six black actor nominations and the Best Picture Oscar for the black queer film Moonlight is reason to celebrate, Baldwin’s assessment of the movie industry endures. Indexing Hollywood’s “diversity problem” strictly to volume fails to fully comprehend the movie industry’s problematic relationship with black lives broadly, and with black history explicitly…

Read the entire article here.

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The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Religion on 2017-03-15 01:36Z by Steven

The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Black Perspectives
2017-03-14

James Padilioni Jr, Ph.D Candidate and Teaching Fellow in American Studies (Africana-affiliated)
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

On June 25, 1942, Edward Atkinson arrived at 101 Central Park West to sit for a photo shoot in the home studio of Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten, author of the infamous 1926 novel Nigger Heaven, was a white patron of the Harlem Renaissance and amateur photographer who took hundreds of photographs of Black Harlem’s who’s who such as Paul Robeson, Billie Holiday, and James Weldon Johnson. Atkinson, an off-Broadway actor no stranger to playing a role, transformed himself into Martin de Porres (1579-1639), a Peruvian friar who became the first Afro-American saint when the Vatican canonized him in 1962 as the patron of social justice. I trace Martin’s iconography and ritual performances across Black communities in Latin and Anglo America to reveal the historical relations of power that structure and materialize the networks harnessed by Black peoples to mobilize resources in their varied yet persistent efforts to create meaningful lives out of the fragments of the Middle Passage

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