Dear Afrogerman Siblings,
So many things came together while I have lived here so that I could realize my Blackness. From Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland, I have been watching through a computer screen as my siblings at home face brutality, death, and injustice.
I have been learning that these are not isolated events, but reflections of a system that has existed for hundreds of years. I have been reading about the way this system does not just exist in the United States, but is a global phenomenon that has been imposed on the rest of the world by the West.
With all of this information, the question has become imprinted in my mind:
Who am I in this system, as a mixed Black American woman in Germany?
It is a question that I approach every experience with hoping to find answers…
When I first began searching, it was you who I found. Afrogermany. I will never forget the first time I met the people who I would grow to consider deep friends, and spiritual siblings in Blackness. I arrived at the restaurant, walked in with nerves rattling, and in the sea of whiteness, I saw your curly-haired heads turn and look at me.
It took me a lifetime to see myself the way you saw me immediately. Effortlessly.
I remember the way it flowed out. Like a waterfall. The words. I had been searching for you for so long. Maybe my entire life. And there you were, with skin and hair and experiences like mine. And even though the language was rough, I remember the way we shared everything. I remember the empathy in your eyes as I talked of the microaggressions I was facing. I remember your stories and that spirit of solidarity at the table.
Then last summer, we spent a weekend in the countryside together. Not just the six of us who’d sat at that little table in the tapas bar, but siblings from all corners of Germany. More than 200 siblings in one place. I had never felt so much love.
When my friends back home asked me about it, there was only one word I could use to describe what I had felt: Unity.
I came into my Blackness in Germany because you, Afrogermans, showed me unity in a way my identity stopped me from experiencing in the U.S. As I’ve come to hear a thousand times from your lips, your history is one of loneliness. This is not my ancestral story, but since living here, I can understand. I know what it’s like to sit in a train car of only white people, where the men stare at me with rape in their eyes. I have gone into restaurants, Fest tents, schools, and hospitals, where I have been the only Black person… where Whiteness has made sure that I know it.
I do believe it took these experiences – and then meeting you – for me to appreciate my identity as a Black person. I was able to decolonize from much of my internalized anti-Blackness because when I finally met you after years wandering this white wilderness, you embraced me as “Sister” and never treated me as anything less.
The colonizer language in which I write this will never be able to encompass the overwhelming gratitude I hold in my heart toward you. And forever will.
But although we oftentimes look alike, although there are definite parallels in our experiences, although we share this language and this culture right now, we are still fundamentally different. I am from America with all of the immeasurable meaning those four words encompass; the same way your German upbringing has its roots entwined with your souls.
I acknowledge that. I respect that. I honor that.
We will not always find each other on topics surrounding race because of these differences, and in those times where we cannot find each other, I hope our basis in love is always clear. I know that as long as we go into a conversation with the unity I know to be an integral part of the Afrogerman identity, we will always learn from each other. We will always grow together.
Thank you for teaching me this gentleness. Thank you for teaching me this love. Thank you for teaching me this unity. Just by… being.
Filled with love, inspiration, and admiration,
Your American Sister