The Films of Branwen Okpako: CfP for a GSA Panel Series

Posted in Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers, Women on 2022-02-21 23:00Z by Steven

The Films of Branwen Okpako: CfP for a GSA Panel Series

DEFA Film Library

January 2022

We invite contributions for a series of panels on Branwen Okpako’s films, for the 2022 GSA conference, September 15-18, 2022. Co-sponsored by the Black German Heritage & Research Association (BGHRA) and the DEFA Film Library, these panels seek to explore the range of stories and rich imagery in the films of this groundbreaking director.

The deadline for submission is 2022-02-28.

Relevant topics might include:

  • Afro-Germanness and Afro-German creativity and artistic production;
  • Form, filmmaking, and aesthetics;
  • Postcolonial and feminist consciousness at the intersections of multiple cultural and familial
  • traditions, norms, values;
  • Regimes of the body; femininity and gender;
  • Engagement with disciplinary regimes, e.g. the police, political regimes, or language;
  • German reunification and its repercussion on discourses of racialization, positionality and representation in Europe and Germany;
  • Family his- and herstories;
  • Affiliation and belonging;
  • Political activism and self-empowerment; and
  • The reception of Branwen Okpako’s films.

For more information, click here.

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Afro Germany – being black and German | DW Documentary

Posted in Anthropology, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Videos on 2022-02-15 21:46Z by Steven

Afro Germany – being black and German | DW Documentary

DW Documentary
2017-03-29

Black and German: news anchor Jana Pareigis has spent her entire life being asked about her skin color and afro hair. What is it like to be Black in Germany? What needs to change?

In our documentary “Afro Germany”, Pareigis travels through Germany to speak with other black Germans, including rap and hip hop artists and pro footballers, and find out what their experiences of racism in Germany have been. “Where are you from?” Afro-German journalist Jana Pareigis has heard that question since her early childhood. And she’s not alone. Black people have been living in Germany for around 400 years, and today there are an estimated one million Germans with dark skin. But they still get asked the often latently racist question, “Where are you from?” Jana Pareigis is familiar with the undercurrents of racism in the western world. When she was a child, the Afro-German TV presenter also thought her skin color was a disadvantage. “When I was young, I wanted to be white,” she says. Pareigis takes us on a trip through Germany from its colonial past up to the present day, visiting other Black Germans to talk about their experiences. They include German rapper and hip hop artist Samy Deluxe, pro footballer Gerald Asamoah and Theodor Michael, who lived as a Black man in the Third Reich. They talk about what it’s like to be Black in Germany.

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Whoopi Goldberg’s American Idea of Race

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-02-07 21:05Z by Steven

Whoopi Goldberg’s American Idea of Race

The Atlantic
2022-02-03

Adam Serwer, Staff Writer

Larry Busacca / Getty; The Atlantic

The “racial” distinctions between master and slave may be more familiar to Americans, but they were and are no more real than those between Gentile and Jew.

It made sense, to the New York Daily News sports editor, that these guys dominated basketball. After all, “the game places a premium on an alert, scheming mind and flashy trickiness, artful dodging and general smartalecness,” not to mention their “God-given better balance and speed.”

He was referring, of course, to the Jews.

In the 1930s, Paul Gallico was trying to explain away Jewish dominance of basketball. He came up with the idea that the game’s structure simply appealed to the immutable traits of wily Hebrews and their scheming minds. It sounds strange to the ear now, but only because our stereotypes about who is inherently good at particular sports have shifted. His theory is not any more or less insightful now than it was then; his confidence should remind us to be skeptical of similar, supposedly explanatory arguments that abound today.

Looking back at old stereotypes is a useful exercise; it can help illustrate the arbitrary nature of the concept of “race,” and how such identities shift even as people insist on their permanence and infallibility. Because race is not real, it is malleable enough to be made to serve the needs of those with the power to define it, the certainties of one generation giving way to the contradictory dogmas of another.

Whoopi Goldberg, the actor and a co-host of The View, stumbled into a public-relations nightmare for ABC on Monday when she insisted that “the Holocaust wasn’t about race.” After an episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert aired in which she opined that “the Nazis were white people, and most of the people they were attacking were white people,” she was temporarily suspended from The View. She has apologized for her remarks…

Read the entire article here.

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Ijoma Mangold: “I was a Wagner fan already at 15”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive on 2022-01-20 18:40Z by Steven

Ijoma Mangold: “I was a Wagner fan already at 15”

Exberliner
Berlin, Germany
2022-01-06

Alexander Wells


Photo: Christian Werner

Ijoma Mangold is a man who speaks his mind. One of Germany’s top literary critics, he currently lives in Berlin as the culture and politics correspondent for Die Zeit, while featuring regularly on German television and on literary prize juries. Late last year, DAS Editions published his memoir about growing up biracial in 1970s Heidelberg, The German Crocodile, in an award-winning English translation by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. This compelling work covers Mangold’s relationship with his single mother, his burgeoning passion for German literature, the belated appearance of his father and formative visits he made to both Nigeria and the USA. The narrative is shaped throughout by Mangold’s subtle literary touch, his understated wit – and a fierce intellectual independence.

What led you to write a book about your youth?

The catalyst was the death of my mother in 2010. That triggered a lot of beautiful, even idyllic memories of my childhood, including ones I didn’t know I had. So I began writing about that. But then I realised that the reader would be wondering, with all this talk about a mother and child – where is the father? I would have to explain that. It became clear that this was the essential story of the book: what it means to grow up in a completely idyllic German setting when you look different, have an unusual first name, and don’t have a father around. I also quickly realised I was bringing some tonalities and perspectives that aren’t exactly typical for this genre. Which is to say that my book isn’t one of accusation, or of trauma. On the contrary, I had an extraordinarily happy childhood. And I wouldn’t say that I really experienced racism. Still, as a child, I had this growing consciousness of being different that I carried around with me…

Read the entire interview here.

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The German Crocodile: A Literary Memior (Das Deutsche Krokodil)

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Europe, Monographs on 2022-01-19 23:52Z by Steven

The German Crocodile: A Literary Memior (Das Deutsche Krokodil)

DAS Editions
November 2021 (originally published in 2017)
366 pages
Hardcover 978-1838221508
eBook ISBN : 978-1838221515

Ijoma Mangold (Translated into English by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp)

In this compelling memoir of growing up different, Ijoma Mangold, today one of Germany’s best literary critics, remembers his youth in 1970s Heidelberg and the new Federal Republic, and momentous visits in early adulthood to the USA and Nigeria.

His own story is inextricably linked with that of his mother, a German from the eastern province of Silesia, forced to escape as a refugee in the expulsions from 1944, and to start afresh in utter poverty in West Germany. His Nigerian father came to Germany to train in pediatric surgery but returned before Ijoma was old enough to remember him. His reappearance on the scene forces a crash collision with an unknown culture, one he grew up suspicious of, and a new complex family history to come to terms with. Mangold explores many existential questions in this lively narrative; How does a boy cope with an absent father? What was it like to grow up ‘bi-racial’ in the Federal Republic? Was he an opportunist, a master adaptor who had over-assimilated? What is the relationship between race and class? And what is more unusual in Germany: having dark skin or a passion for Thomas Mann and Richard Wagner? Ijoma shares his story with its dramatic twists and turns, not forgetting the surprises he uncovers about himself along the way.

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Film Screening with Director Ines Johnson-Spain in Attendance: “Becoming Black”

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-19 20:34Z by Steven

Film Screening with Director Ines Johnson-Spain in Attendance: “Becoming Black”

Black Germans
2021-11-17

Sponsored by Waterloo Centre for German, German at University of Toronto, and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden
November 17, 2021

SYNOPSIS: Becoming Black (dir. Ines Johnson-Spain, 2019, 91 min.):

In the 1960s, the East German Sigrid falls in love with Lucien from Togo, one of several African students studying at a trade school on the outskirts of East Berlin. She becomes pregnant, but is already married to Armin. Sigrid and Armin raise their daughter as their own, withholding from her knowledge of her African paternal heritage. That child grows up to become the filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain. In filmed encounters with her aging stepfather Armin and others from her youth, Johnson-Spain tracks the strategies of denial developed by her parents and the surrounding community. Her intimate but also critical exploration comprising both painful and confusing childhood memories and matter-of-fact accounts testifies to a culture of repression. When blended with movingly warm encounters with her Togolese family, Becoming Black becomes a thought-provoking reflection on identity, social norms and family ties.

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Film Screening with Director in Attendance: “Becoming Black”(2019)

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Europe, Live Events, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-12 16:07Z by Steven

Film Screening with Director in Attendance: “Becoming Black”(2019)

Black German Heritage & Research Association
Online Event
Wednesday, 2021-11-17, 17:30-19:30Z (12:30-14:30 EST)

As the next segment of our ongoing All Black Lives Matter event series, and in cooperation with the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, The University of Toronto, and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden, the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) is pleased to invite you to a film screening of Ines Johnson-Spain’s autobiographical documentary “Becoming Black“(2019).

SYNOPSIS: Becoming Black (dir. Ines Johnson-Spain, 2019, 91 min.):

In the 1960s, the East German Sigrid falls in love with Lucien from Togo, one of several African students studying at a trade school on the outskirts of East Berlin. She becomes pregnant, but is already married to Armin. Sigrid and Armin raise their daughter as their own, withholding from her knowledge of her African paternal heritage. That child grows up to become the filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain. In filmed encounters with her aging stepfather Armin and others from her youth, Johnson-Spain tracks the strategies of denial developed by her parents and the surrounding community. Her intimate but also critical exploration comprising both painful and confusing childhood memories and matter-of-fact accounts testifies to a culture of repression. When blended with movingly warm encounters with her Togolese family, Becoming Black becomes a thought-provoking reflection on identity, social norms and family ties.

The link to view the film will be posted on Eventbrite for registrants to stream from November 15-18, 2021.

For more information and to register, click here.

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A family story as complex as American history, tracing to 1820s Berlin Crossroads in Ohio: Michael A. Chaney

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-09-19 01:55Z by Steven

A family story as complex as American history, tracing to 1820s Berlin Crossroads in Ohio: Michael A. Chaney

Cleveland.com: Covering Northeast Ohio
2020-07-03

Michael A. Chaney, Professor of English
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire


Michael A. Chaney, an author and professor of English at Dartmouth, traces some of his roots to a storied African American community in Berlin Crossroads in Ohio’s Appalachia.

HANOVER, New Hampshire — As the celebration of this country’s revolutionary independence looms, I cannot help but reflect on my own ancestry and what it says about place and race, politics and perspective. A mixed-race Ohioan, I was born in Cuyahoga Falls and raised in the Akron/Cleveland area. Like most Ohioans, I am proud of our wooded forests, our first-rate colleges, our winning sports teams. I want to believe that if more people knew about Ohio’s Black and mixed-race histories, we would be cautiously optimistic to note those times when Black lives have mattered in Ohio — in the solemn presence of mourning those times when Black lives should have mattered more.

This won’t be a linear story. As with all history, including complicated family histories, and, particularly, family trees made more complicated by the intersection of different races, it moves from Akron to Germany and back to Ohio, with some side branches that go back 200 years to a once-storied and now largely forgotten African American community in Ohio’s Appalachia

Read the entire article here.

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The Black Lives Matter movement in four E.U. countries

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice on 2021-07-13 22:25Z by Steven

The Black Lives Matter movement in four E.U. countries

Der Tagesspiegel
Berlin, Germany
2021-07-12

Andrea Dernbach

Graciously translated from German into English for me by Gyavira Lasana.


Black Lives Still Matter: Dass das Leben Schwarzer Menschen weiterhin zähle, war der leicht variierte Titel einer Demonstration. FOTO: FABIAN SOMMER/DPA

The short summer of BLM—and what remains of it. The results varied, but everywhere #blm influenced the debate on racism, says a European study. A comment.

A year has now come and gone since the protests that drove hundreds of thousands onto the streets after the death of the black US citizen George Floyd—and not just in the USA. In Germany, by the end of July 2020, around 200,000 people had demonstrated against racism in their own country, through police, discrimination in public services and against the gauntlet that is their everyday life for the majority of non-white people.

Forgot everything? The last demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate brought just a thousand people, despite relaxed pandemic regulations. Media interest in “Black Lives Matter” also quickly subsided after initial widespread coverage, as a group of researchers from Germany, Poland, Italy and Denmark who investigated the phenomenon a year later for their respective countries have noted.

But this only seems to be the surface when you read what the social scientists from the German Center for Integration and Migration Research in Berlin, the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, the University of Copenhagen and the Polish Academy of Sciences have compiled in interviews with activists, media analysis and on four maps of protest. In all countries, the short #blm summer has made racism as a topic more visible and black voices more audible than ever.

In Poland protest only in the cities

Even if, as quoted in the research report, it had to be made clear to the enthusiastic newcomers that the black movement in Germany has existed for more than forty years and not merely since May 25, 2020. Now having gained momentum and publicity, anti-racism became, according to the report, “like never before a political topic.” Even for Poland, where the protests were relatively small—limited to major cities such as Warsaw, Kraków, Wroclaw and Katowice—and failed to include outrage over government actions against women’s and gay rights, Black Lives Matter nonetheless made racism a public issue.

Particularly interesting is the comparative view of the two countries with both fascist and colonial pasts: In Italy as well as in Germany, the #blm protests reached the whole country, and both movements related racism to their nations’ past. In the media, on the other hand, and possibly beyond there was resistance to the connection of today’s racism with national history. According to the analysis of the team from Florence, even Italy’s left-liberal and left-wing traditional newspapers have dealt with the US protests in far more detail than with those in Europe and Italy. Even the left-wing Il Manifesto has interpreted the slogan “I can’t breathe,” whispered by the dying Georg Floyd, not as a call against anti-black racism but a jingo for the many who suffered from shortness of breath owing to the pandemic, the climate and the economic crisis.

Racism is often that of “others”

In Germany, the news daily Bild had virtually concealed the topic. The narrative that minorities have been wanting to blow up for decades—that racism has been successfully overcome together with fascism and Nazism—still seems resilient. The editors of Bild had decided that a racist status quo in Germany was not something its readership wanted to see, hear, or read. Interestingly, Alle außer mir, Francesca Melandri’s excellent novel about Italy’s racist Abyssinian War against Ethiopia and its consequences sold 70,000 copies in Germany in one year, while selling over the counter just 10,000 times in Italy. Racism is preferably that of others.

The two countries are also far apart in terms of the response of established politics to #blm. In Italy, the momentum seems to have ebbed before reaching the so-called palazzo, or parliament: “At the political-institutional level, we cannot yet see any effects,” says the research report. In Germany, however, even as BLM was less diverse and counted fewer refugees and fewer active people than in Italy, the movement found exactly the right people for German formal democracy: long-established Afro-Germans with the necessary experience in German politics. For example, they participated in the Chancellor’s Cabinet Committee on Right-Wing Extremism and Anti-Racism, and since then there has also been more money committed black programs and projects.

How long the topic of racism endures at the upper levels of institutions cannot readily be determined. As the researchers also write: For a real verdict on #blm in Europe, a look at the one short summer is too short.

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Queer Memory and Black Germans

Posted in Articles, Europe, Gay & Lesbian, History, Media Archive on 2021-06-21 01:33Z by Steven

Queer Memory and Black Germans

The New Fascism Syllabus: Exploring the New Right through Scholarship and Civic Engagement
2021-06-08

Tiffany N. Florvil, Associate Professor of European History
University of New Mexico


Memorial plaque, May-Ayim-Ufer, Berlin. OTFW CC BY-SA 3.0.

In “The German Catechism,” Dirk Moses offers an interesting intervention by challenging the idea of the Holocaust’s uniqueness as well as current debates about the Holocaust and its connection to German colonialism, especially the Namibian genocide (1904-08). He also addresses the stifled debates surrounding antisemitism, Israel, and Palestine. In making his argument, Moses uses five points to explore Germans’ abilities to come to terms with their genocidal past and how that past has shaped subsequent postwar efforts at state (re)building, national identity, belonging, and restitution. Postcolonial scholars such as Paul Gilroy, Frantz Fanon, and Aimé Césaire have long acknowledged the interconnections among colonialism, antisemitism, racism, and the Holocaust. Moses even references the latter two theorists in his piece. I applaud some of his intellectual provocations as well as the other contributors in this exciting forum (i.e. Frank Biess, Alon Confino, Bill Niven, Zoe Samudzi, Helmut Walser Smith, Johannes von Moltke, etc.). Together, they not only force us to grapple with these histories and our own positionalities, but they affirm how subjective (and not value-free) the production and dissemination of knowledge really is.

As much as I welcome debate, I am left pondering what is exactly new about Moses’s claims given that Black (queer) women in Germany examined the Holocaust and memory politics since the 1980s often outside of academic institutions and mainstream debates; sadly, a dynamic that is still common today. There were (and remain) racialized communities in Germany who used the Holocaust as a point of reference for opening up public dialogues about discrimination and systemic racism. They did so in their community and in their own publications, constructing a new public sphere. This was not taken up in the mainstream; it still isn’t today. Where are the voices of those individuals in these German debates past and present? This is also striking considering that those same communities demonstrated in their cultural and political work how “Memories are not owned by groups—nor are groups owned by memories. Rather, the borders of memory and identity are jagged”—a point stressed in Michael Rothberg’s Multidirectional Memory (2009), which is encountering criticism in today’s Germany, but which has propelled analysis of the complex, overlapping layers of memory at play in the postwar years. If Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung is such a fundamental feature of postwar German society, where are the perspectives from Black German, Turkish German, and Romani communities? Why don’t we know them and why aren’t they shaping the debate? The latter group was not officially recognized as victims of the Third Reich until 1982. It is the first group I will focus on in further detail below…

Read the entire article here.

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