It’s been an odd time for me in my German life. You know, that kind of time where you’re like hmmm I’m not sure how I feel about stuff? That kind of inarticulate and unsure time. On one hand, my social life is booming. Seriously, people seem to like me, and that’s pretty awesome. The Hubular One and I even went out socializing last weekend. I feel like I’m turning a new leaf, or whatever that saying is. Don’t judge me, thinking and remembering stuff is very difficult for me right now.
Meanwhile, we experienced a very unsavory encounter on a 40-minute train ride on Saturday night. About 10 or so German tatted-up teens on the train were shouting racial epithets and “White Power” for all of those 40 minutes, which was naturally very unsettling for me. When I looked at them, it only elicited giggles and further more derogatory terms. Now, as an outnumbered pregnant lady, I really wasn’t in a position to defend myself or even say something. I even tried to avoid the entire thing. But the train was fairly packed and I have a really bad bout of motion sickness on public transportation throughout pregnancy, so sitting with my head down is a must when traveling. However, this is part of a big picture and an even bigger conversation that I’ll need to have in the future. So let me reel off my perhaps over-analytical feelings with you.
See, my problem is, I’m not one for condoning bad and racist behavior whether it’s directed at me or not. I stand up for myself and for other people, and to be honest, I’ve never suffered any backlash for it most of my life. I don’t tolerate bullies, and I don’t suffer fools. I’m not a fighter by any means, but I’m not someone that you can walk over. That said, what happens in this situation when I’m traveling with my little daughter? Do I tell her to keep her head down and to not be offended? What am I supposed to say to her? This isn’t my country; it may be my home for now, but I don’t feel like it’s my home. Know what I mean? I can’t even stand up for myself in German because it’s just not good enough, (and yes, don’t get on me about learning the language, I know, I know, but not even that wouldv’e helped in this situation). So in the end, my concerns aren’t that there is racism in the world, and no, I don’t think it’s even more prevalent in Germany, it just sticks out a lot more here. Germany is naturally a predominately white country, which makes complete sense. The faces of Germany may be changing now to incorporate the many expats this country now hosts, but in the end, someone like me still gets looks walking to the grocery store, and not just because Germans are 100% ok with staring at people (which they totally are), but because I’m different. I know this, they know this, and we don’t talk about it. So The G-Man aka The Hubular, never experienced anything like this before. He doesn’t know how to justify it, or what to do with it. This may be something I’ve had experience with since I was a young girl, but for him, this is his country, his home, and I know he doesn’t know how to feel about it.
You can justify it by saying there are idiots everywhere, because that is a quantifiable fact. But I’m outnumbered here, in a language and usually a dialect I don’t understand, in a culture that doesn’t love foreigners, in a place I don’t wholly know. So, I’m worried. I’m worried that my daughter will have to accept these things; the judgment and racism of others because she will know early on that she doesn’t stand a chance of winning a battle against people that she won’t look like. She will be German and American, and she will grow up speaking English at home with me, and German everywhere else. She will be taught that her grandfather’s family went through integration and busing practices, and that her great-grandma was a Harvard graduate and darker than dark from Alabama. She’ll learn about New England, and I might inadvertently teach her the Boston accent. She’ll learn about her late grandma, who didn’t care about race, but did care about making a difference. She’ll laugh with her goofy parents, she’ll spend time getting to know her Swabian grandparents and dialect, and she’ll walk down the street holding one brown hand and one white one. But will she be embarrassed by me, like I was with my Mom sometimes when I was young and stupid, because she gets made fun of at school or they call her racial slurs? Because she’ll be outnumbered here for sure, this isn’t Harlem or Boston, this is Germany; and it for sure isn’t the most diverse place on earth. You may see some Africans walking down the street in Nürnberg, but in those little villages that are everywhere in Germany, you’ll be hard-pressed to see anything but pale, sun-deprived Germans. So that’s my analysis of a problem that may (or may not arise) while bringing-up our little girl. What do you guys think?
And before I get any comments suggesting I’m being dramatic, and playing a race card or anything, there are a number of articles recently published online in German news regarding the rise of racism, Neo-Nazis, and violence targeted against foreigners. I won’t provide many links but check out those below for a glimpse.