AW: German society (was: AW: [thechat] King Preaches Abstinence to Parading Maidens)

iris laren4 at
Mon Sep 16 14:25:18 CDT 2002

sorry to come in here in the middle of it, not having
read the whole thread.  i've just moved back to
germany after 12 years in england and just resubbed to
evolt after 2 months absence.

i feel anxious about my return to a country i didn't
really want to come back to and whose culture i have
been out of touch with for such a long time.  i find
it difficult to re-adjust to german culture which is
just 'a tad' tenser than the british.  more 'correct'
and 'accurate'.  but on the other hand so refreshingly
straight-forward and honest.

still... strange that i now find myself defending the

--- Erika Meyer <emeyer at> wrote:
> I lived in BRD 1985.  I was astounded when my host
> would
> automatically refer to any dark-haired, dark-skinned
> person as a
> "foreigner."  It seemed such an assumption.

germany is a very white country. they are not used to
seeing dark faces. (i know, that sounds terribly
corny.  bear with me...)  germany never had a great
influx of people from former colonies (because they
didn't have many). most black [i use that word in the
broad sense, probably politically incorrectly] people
you see in germany are either descendants of black GIs
from after WW2 or from a brief wave of refugees from
eritrea in the early 80s, if i remember right.
baically there aren't many.  that's an
over-generalization, of course, and i'm sure that's
changed in the last few years.  but from what i've
seen in the last two weeks it is still true that a
black person in germany is most likely to be a
foreigner (american, in fact ;)

also consider that even the long-term foreigners in
germany, such as the italian, turkish and greek
'guestworkers', who have been living in germany for
decades, are still considered 'foreigners'.  they are
not german, not by law and not in the minds of the

in most cases this is not malicious.  it's not
'foreigner' as in 'you are worth less'.  it's just
'foreigner' as in 'you are not part of my tribe'.
which is sad enough of course, but fairly universal.
i wouldn't call this attitude racist, but i do think
it's nationalistic.  not in the nazi sense, but in the
tribalistic sense.  the same tribalism / nationalism
we see in england, in the states and everywhere else
where nations / tribes fight over limited resources.

i've completely lost the plot of what i was trying to
say now.  i guess i'm trying to say:  don't be afraid
of the individual who might say something funny.
individuals are rarely racist or intolerant, just

i'd be afraid of the masses, though.  which was
exactly the reason i left germany after the fall of
the wall.  there was just a bit too much flag waving
and cheering for the wrong people going on.

when individual enters mass, independent analytical
thinking is switched off.

backtrack to the 'dark skinned people are foreigners'
thing.  i was in the library in manchester, england,
when i heard a child speak german and turned around.
there was father, mother and child and they were
black!  i had to talk to them because i was so
obviously staring at them in surprise but throughout
the brief conversation i was so totally embarrassed
that i'd been more suprised at them being black than
hearing german in england.  i felt really bad about
having made the assumption that a black person would
be speaking english, not german, and i really hoped
they didn't notice this and think i was a racist.

i think that's pretty confused, don't you?

it'll take a little bit longer for the germans to stop
being surprised that a black person speaks german than
it took the british to stop being surprised that a
black person speaks english.

end of totally confused rant.  i haven't completely
thought this through yet and of course, as i said, my
perspective of germany might be a bit outdated.  and,
as i hinted at, i'm a bit scared of finding out
whether and how german culture has changed - or not...

one more thing.  i find the german love for using
english words absolutely hilarious.  a mobile phone is
a 'handy' (and they totally believe that's what it's
called in english speaking countires) and little
backpacks are 'bodybags'.  cringe!  i should set up a
site like that 'japanese engrish' site.


omnia mea mecum porto


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