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By placing ourselves in situtions where we are the Other.

Since I came to Germany in 1999 for an exchange program to learn German on the Uni in Lueneburg, I have missed the American Racial diversity i was used to in Austin, Texas, my home town. I am as White as they come I guess. I am proud to be from Austin because of the typical racism all over Texas that is not so present in the liberal, at times exotic capital (home of Whole Foods and a university town). My family is White and at times can be subtly racial. I, too, have the illusion that I am not racist, but when I am in the states and I see Black person I stare. I feel awkward around people of African descent because I don't know how thtey perceive me. Maybe because i miss the sheer Color being here in Germany. There are a lot of Turkish immigrants and Turkish families who are German citizens, having been here for generations. But Black people here are from Ghana or the former Kongo - they have a whole different background of experienced racism and culture, which i can only ponder and wonder at. When people (Germans and Turkish) hear that I am American, there is a sense of respect; when they here that I am from Texas, they raise their eyebrows and say Oh. Sometimes they comment about George W. but mostly its a silent reprimanding look.
I look norther European (swedisch or danish or whathaveyou), but when I open my mouth, people know i'm not from here, although some don't get it until about 20 min into the conversation (my German isn't taht bad since i studied here and got my teaching degree).
In high school I tried to come to grips with racism - at my HS there was unspoken segregation - i made a few friends who where Black, but they seemed to think I was maybe pitying them or maybe they sensed my hesitation or my own nervousness. It so dang complicated!

What is going through your mind during the moment?

I feel guilty in general being White and an American. Germans have been forced to face their past and the educated people here feel the burden of being German. Of course there are idiots who still think the whites are better and it is VERY disturbing when the neonazis make their presence known. It is a shame and i am very afraid of that. Especially because I don't want my daughter (3 months) to grow up getting influenced by them.

What is going through your head about the people who surround you? What do you perceive will be their treatment of you? How do you act in response to all this stimuli?

I want my dd to know that there are different cultures and different colors and that we are all humans. I want her to know other cultures besides German and American adn appreciate them and actually experience being around other cultures, languages and people. Good people who have the same views as we do.
i am sorry i don't live in a country with a lighter view of race, but then again Germans have actually faced their past, unlike most Americans who
say I'm not racist and leave it at that. The nation view point is ok, that's history, why make a big deal of it now.
I hope to someday be able to see all colors, religions and ethnicities being ok together, but we humans are so selfish and self-honoring that i think it can only be achieved by practical and pointed experiences and reflection.

I hope I have doen the workshop correctly - it's hard concentrating with a little baby around

A few years ago i did a big research paper on Ebonics or Black Talk and the socio-culutral aspects of it - it opened my mind in a lot of ways and raised many important issues of when to make a big deal of race and who you talk and when not to and what the consequences are for both Blacks and Whites. I am trying to keep thinking of those things and apply the thoughts to the German-Turkish situation here - it's the same pattern as in the states- I'm a school teacher and my dream is to just be able to teach kids about beign together with a focus on being able to talk to each other. Language is the key, i think, to showing and sharing culture.
 
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