Friday, November 14, 2008

Post Titled: "Africa conquers the White House."-Juergen Gansel, a state legislator and member of the extreme-right National Democratic Party

Post Subtitled: *D'oh!* not again...

(sorry, using that foto again of Gaba from Hamburg, he's like my Joe the Plumber- love it. Thanks Janna for the link!) If you read the blog during my first year back in Germany (2006), there was a lot of me saying things like "holy shit- you CAN'T say/do THAT!" - i.e. the BILD zeitung cover on the day Obama came to town where several prominent German politicians had been Barack-afro-blackified.
There were posts positively raging on the racial insensitivity and sometimes pure ignorance of my host country- (even the other day Ms. Bean (from Kentucky) told me how someone had made a snide "ausländer" comment to her - someone dressed as a cowboy at a country music festival she was playing at- wow, anyhow.)
But over time, the shock to my P.C.-trained brain has lessened significantly, and I -sadly-get used to the natural born racial insensitivity which much of the European continent suffers from (even with regards to their neighboring countries at times), but generally think Julian Bond (chairman of the NAACP) hits the nail on the head:
"The big difference here is that the United States has been thinking about and dealing with race since we were founded. These countries in Europe are relative newcomers to the conversation about race. They are much less familiar with confronting their own bigotry."


The US is so thrown in the water when it comes to racial diversity and tolerance that the standard is pretty-much unrealistically high. Coming back from the West Coast once again I just realized how amazing and natural and comfortable integration and truly comfortable co-existence of people from dozens of ethnic backgrounds has become, it is unreal- unlike anywhere else, it is the standard, really. London and Paris are somewhere in the running, and Europe may come around in time, but I am not expecting any miracles.
The thing is- if people just grow-up around other people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds then they are completely normalized, they don't think twice about other people's ethnicity- but in Europe it is rare that a child growing up would have such an experience... and if you grow up only seeing people who are essentially just like you, then of course you would come to think of others as real others... anyhow, hopefully this is the last time I will talk about racial issues in this blog, but it probably won't be...

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1 Comments:

Anonymous DLR said...

The German racial insensitivity is pretty amazing, it's true. And (probably talked about this sometime in Berlin) for all the "Americans are racist, a black man won't win" conversations that went on, there is equally never going to be a Turkish-German Chancellor, and I couldn't name any Indian, Pakistani, black British politicians who hold relatively senior positions.

But it's more bipolar in the US: even an electoral Obama landslide still leaves nearly a popular 50% (for whatever reasons) *not* being happy with the President-elect, and because the country is fucking huge, there will be simply more crazies and more prominent events reported about those crazies to the outside world.

It's a more explosive racial crucible (silly phrase) than in Europe but at least it's being dealt with rather than ignored. The US is still going through teenage therapy, but I suppose Europe is already middle aged and set in its ways?

5:16 pm  

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