Our new col­umn, “Among Peo­ple”, aims to offer a plat­form to mar­gin­alised peo­ple so they can share their expe­ri­ences of dis­crim­i­na­tion and draw atten­tion to the unseen. In this first instal­ment, Genaro is shar­ing his thoughts with you: “Between Oppres­sion Olympics and Olympus”.

At times, when I’m just pon­der­ing away and it kind of feels like sit­ting on a motor­way bridge, down below vehi­cles full of thoughts and lor­ries full of wor­ries, I am over­come with memo­ries. Mem­o­ries of me stand­ing with oth­er pupils in the yard as the few non­-migran­tised boys were des­per­ate­ly try­ing to come up with their own eth­nic back­ground so they could fit in with us. Take Kevin, for exam­ple. He was at least one six­teenth Russ­ian and most cer­tain­ly one eighth French—so why shouldn’t he suf­fer just as loud­ly as we did when the teacher told us to car­ry on study­ing even when we end up in jail? This sit­u­a­tion that would lat­er reap­pear to me in Mohamed Amjahid’s book “Der weiße Fleck” (“The White Spot”) as Oppres­sion Olympics did look quirky to me back then but by no means prob­lem­at­ic. Today, situa­tions like these do their crit­i­cal part to me fee­ling ashamed when I talk about my experien­ces. I feel like this impos­tor, like the boy who hasn’t been wan­der­ing through the yards of my mem­o­ries for a long time. Instead, after a long and hard road, I final­ly fit in with the elite—I go to uni­ver­si­ty. It is not with­out pride that I am writ­ing this sen­tence. I go to uni­ver­si­ty. This is a cir­cum­stance that seemed unthin­ kable to me or my for­mer school­mates, a suc­ cess sto­ry that could very well end with this sen­tence and every­one would be happy—the Kebab from those days has fit well into soci­ety and Ger­many has done a bril­liant job in hel­ping him to achieve that. I beg your par­don, dear read­er, but it’s not over yet.

My moth­er is Ger­man, my name is Euro­pean, my skin tone is the “good” kind of brown—just about white enough to not stand out. I once was con­sid­ered by white schol­ars to not fit in, now I am con­sid­ered by white schol­ars to fit in and again my impos­tor phe­nom­e­non is trig­gered—where is my place? Should I be flaun­ting my “light” bur­den? Should I talk about how I was abused at the age of 16 years by four true fas­cists, how their cig­a­rettes have over time been dec­o­rat­ing my hands and arms as silent wit­ness­es of their deeds for­ev­er? How the police­man lat­er asked me why I didn’t strike back—after all, I was a “state­ly man”? Or should I nod hap­pi­ly, thank­ing them for fit­ting in now? Don’t get me wrong, I do want to belong, I want to be part of this uni, but I still want to be my whole self.

Like most who are going to read this, I am study­ing at a uni­ver­si­ty in Halle an der Saale named after an anti­semite. A uni­ver­si­ty which offers the “Anti­Discrimination Pre­ven­tion and Coun­selling Office” as its only point of con­tact for migran­tised peo­ple. As much as I appre­ciate its work in the area of inter­sec­tion­al femi­nism, it still is a coun­selling office of white peo­ple who can prob­a­bly bare­ly empathise about racist expe­ri­ences. More atten­tion for margi­nalised and migran­tised peo­ple is need­ed on a struc­tur­al lev­el as well, in order to meet the orig­i­nal con­cept of uni­ver­si­ty: entirety.

While I am try­ing to share my knowl­edge with oth­er priv­i­leged peo­ple in my capac­i­ty as an ally, I should like to point out that rais­ing aware­ness is not just the duty of mar­gin­alised peo­ple. What we can all do is lis­ten more and look into our own priv­i­leges, even if it may feel like a loss or an affront at first. Let us try to treat each oth­er with more care, and sin­cere­ly ask about and notice oth­er people’s needs even with­in busy col­lege life, and we will be of help to all of us.

Text: Genaro Heuer
Trans­la­tion: Kon­rad Dieterich

Illus­tra­tions:
Cer­ti­fied su (CC BY 2.0) flickr.com/photos/certified_su/229016531/
Sam Bald (CC BY 2.0) flickr.com/photos/28931095@N03/5345386518/

• Do you feel dis­crim­i­nat­ed against, too? Our new col­umn, “Zwis­chen Men­schen” (“Among Peo­ple”), aims to offer a plat­form to mar­gin­alised peo­ple so they can share their expe­ri­ences of dis­crim­i­na­tion and draw atten­tion to the unseen. Would you like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to pre­sent your unfil­tered expe­ri­ences and thoughts on this top­ic? Please feel free to get in touch with us at zwischen-menschen@posteo.de.

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