Transatlantic Experiences and Perspectives of Black Germans of the Post-War Generation
Edited By Marion Kraft
Which Figure Does Not Belong? About the Impossibility of Belonging (Thomas Usleber)
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Which Figure Does Not Belong? About the Impossibility of Belonging
25. Thomas Usleber. Private property.
An Ignorant Society
A reading in Gießen in 2003. The year before, my book Die Farben unter meiner Haut [The Colors Underneath my Skin],1 had been published. It describes my experiences as a Black German. During readings, I wanted ← 107 | 108 → to convey that I am not defined by my skin color and that I am as German as any other German. This was not my first reading. I usually introduced myself and talked about the motives for writing an autobiographical text before reading some passages from the book: childhood, school days, professional experiences, and the closing passages as a résumé. This was followed by a Question and Answer session, which was usually welcomed by the audience. But in Gießen, an elderly gentleman got up who had only one short, single question: “But by and large you like it here with us, don’t you?”
I had heard this or similar questions before, but never after I had so poignantly, so clearly and so extensively explained that I, too, was a part of this country. Now, this question knocked me off my feet, irritated and bewildered me. Suddenly I realized that I would never reach the depths of people’s minds, where prejudice was embedded so deeply. I would never belong to their “us,” and...
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