Guten Tag, y’all!
Ever had a question you felt silly asking? I have! Especially before moving here. I wanted to know about Germany, specifically from a black person’s perspective. Let’s face it–there are certain concerns that many black people, especially black Americans, tend to have when traveling or moving to another country. Luckily, I have family who’ve lived here before, so they were able to answer some questions. For other concerns, I turned to the good ol’ Internet to read the experiences of black people who live and have lived in Germany. Now that I’ve lived here for a few years, I feel like I can add a little to the conversation. So, here are a few questions that people often ask me privately!
1. Are there black people in Germany?
Yes! Even though the images we see of Europe in films and magazines present it as a totally white place, that’s just not the case. Black people do live in Germany, and have had a presence here for quite some time. The black people I’ve met here are Afro Germans, black Americans, black people from Africa and black people from other countries in Europe.
2. So is Germany safe for black people?
Yes. Although I have to admit that there are places in eastern Germany (for me, that means too far past Berlin or Potsdam) that I don’t want to visit (but there are places that I wouldn’t visit in Mississippi and hell, in my home state of Alabama), because of extreme right wing views. That said, there are probably black people who live and work very contentedly there.
3. Have you experienced racism there?
Yes, but no more than I experienced in America. There was a guy who yelled at me that I should go back to Africa, but it wasn’t any worse than the guy who yelled out “N*gger” as my cousin and I walked along the Las Vegas strip. Actually, despite coming across gross, archaic images of black folks, I’d say Germany feels, overall, decidedly less racist than America. Folks don’t stare at my interracial family like they did in Alabama.
4. Speaking of staring: people in Germany stare at me a lot. Is it because I’m black?
Nah. People in Germany stare at everybody.
4. Good to know. Let’s talk about something else. What’s a black girl to do about her hair while in Germany?
Girl…this is a tough one. If you live in a smaller town like I do, you’ll definitely find yourself with fewer options when it comes to products and services that cater to black hair. Ladies in bigger cities will have more luck, though the quality of options vary greatly. If you’re lucky enough to live near Kaiserslautern and you have natural hair, then I absolutely recommend going to the Honeycomb salon in Kaiserslautern for products and maintenence.
5. Speaking of girl concerns…do German men find black women attractive?
Clearly, I can’t speak for every German man in the world. But I do happen to have a German man handy to answer this question. The Man says: It depends on the man’s taste. But in general, if a man thinks a woman is pretty, then race doesn’t matter. Tat adds: I’ve seen a lot of couples composed of black women and German men. Just be confident.
6. What’s it like to be married to a German man?
Again, I can only speak to my situation, but I LOVE being married to my German guy. Sure, we have our culture clashes sometimes, like when CPT (colored people time) runs in to DPT (Deutsch people time, which is the opposite of CPT), but we love our life. I have noticed that German guys seem to be a bit more egalitarian than American men (I see WAY more dads pushing strollers and doing daycare pickups here than I did in America). They’re also good dressers. Actually, I think this topic merits its own post! Look for it down the road.
7. What’s it like to raise a child in Germany?
In some ways, it’s very different from in America. For example, childcare is more affordable but less abundant. There’s also a weaker focus on pre-K education, but a stronger emphasis on foreign language learning. Healthcare is definitely more accessible. There are playgrounds everwhere and lots of green spaces for running around. Plus, even though Germans work hard, they also take plenty of time to enjoy life, which can translate to more time with your family.
So that’s what I’ve got! Do you have a question I didn’t answer? Some information to add? Do you disagree with something I’ve said? By all means, leave a comment! UPDATE: And if you’re a black, Arabic, Asian, or ANY minority who grew up in Germany, PLEASE leave a comment! I understand that your experience will be quite different from mine, and I think it is very important to hear your voices in this discussion!